Carroll leaves USC to coach Seahawks
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LOS ANGELES (AP)Pete Carroll loves challenges and the NFL game. The Seattle Seahawks offered both, and not even Southern California could compete.
Carroll ended his nine-year tenure with the Trojans on Monday, leaving behind a program facing multiple woes for a lucrative deal to coach the Seahawks.
"If you know anything about me, you know I can't pass up this challenge," Carroll said.
Carroll insisted his decision had nothing to do with the NCAA's lengthy look into his program, denouncing rumors of a rift between him and athletic director Mike Garrett. Carroll said he thought he would be at USC "forever."
USC quarterback Matt Barkley also said quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates is leaving with Carroll after just one season, presumably to become the Seahawks' offensive coordinator.
Carroll won 97 games, seven Pac-10 titles and two national championships at USC, but the school is under a cloud of NCAA investigation and other scandals. Although the charismatic 58-year-old coach spoke glowingly of his highly successful years in Los Angeles, he jumped at the best — and timeliest — of many offers he's received over the years to return to the NFL.
"I do not expect to ever be able to top what we just did," Carroll said. "I think it's just been a beautiful time together. It hurts to separate right now ... but it can't keep on going, because I can't pass up this opportunity."
Carroll's departure ends one of the most successful runs in college Football history — perhaps right when it was about to become much less fun, considering the just-completed 9-4 season, USC's worst since his first year at the school.
But Seahawks owner Paul Allen pried the 58-year-old coach out of a comfortable oceanside life as one of the most popular sports figures in the nation's second-largest media market, with numerous charity endeavors and a team that helped fill the area's NFL void.
He's taking along Bates, who replaced Steve Sarkisian last year. Sarkisian recruited Barkley before jumping ship to the University of Washington last year.
"It's kind of disappointing to see them leave," Barkley said. "More than anything, it's a challenge to get better and just reach another level. I came to this school because I wanted to be a Trojan, and nothing about coaches leaving would change that for me."
Carroll's departure seeped out to his players through various unconfirmed reports in the media over the weekend. The Trojans who straggled into Heritage Hall for an afternoon meeting chose USC largely on the strength of Carroll's success and charisma, but they returned to classes Monday with no idea what was next.
"I kind of didn't want to come to the meeting today, but it's something you've got to do," said tailback Allen Bradford, who will be the Trojans' top returning rusher with Joe McKnight's early departure for the NFL. "How he got us training and competing, I don't think that's ever going to leave us. The new coach coming in is going to see this team is hungry and wants to win."
Bradford planned to hold a players-only meeting in the locker room after Carroll's farewell address.
Garrett brushed past dozens of reporters after Carroll's news conference, maintaining his largely silent public stance about his troubled department, which sanctioned its own men's basketball program recently in an attempt to assuage the NCAA.
"I'm working on the next step, and when I finish, you'll hear about it," Garrett said. "I don't talk about my search."
As for the NCAA investigation into allegations that former USC tailback Reggie Bush and his family received improper benefits from a marketing agent, Yahoo! Sports reported Monday — citing unidentified sources — that the NCAA has concluded its inquiry.
Yahoo Sports! reported the NCAA's Committee on Infractions will meet from Feb. 19-21 to address what investigators uncovered at USC.
Carroll's hiring capped a busy weekend for Seahawks chief executive Tod Leiweke. Seattle fired coach Jim Mora on Friday after just one season, and Leiweke spent Sunday in Hermosa Beach completing a deal with Carroll.
"We are excited to add Pete as our coach. He brings a great passion for winning and a positive attitude that is contagious," Leiweke said.