Pete Carroll

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Pete Carroll
Color head-and-shoulders photograph of silver-haired Pete Carroll in dark blue sport shirt with Seattle Seahawks logo on left breast.
Carroll in 2014 as head coach of the Seattle Seahawks
Seattle Seahawks
Position: Head coach
Personal information
Born: (1951-09-15) September 15, 1951 (age 66)
San Francisco, California
Career information
High school: Larkspur (CA) Redwood
College: Pacific
Career history
As coach:
Career highlights and awards
Head coaching record
Regular season: 111–76–1 (.593)
Postseason: 10–7 (.588)
Career: NCAA: 84–18 (.824)
NFL: 120–83–1 (.591)
Coaching stats at PFR

Peter Clay Carroll (born September 15, 1951) is an American football coach who is the head coach and executive vice president of the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League (NFL). He is a former head coach of the New York Jets, New England Patriots, and the USC Trojans of the University of Southern California (USC). Carroll is one of only three football coaches who have won both a Super Bowl and a college football national championship.[1] Carroll is the oldest head coach currently working in the NFL.

Early life[edit]

Carroll was born in San Francisco, California, the son of Rita (née Ban) and James Edward "Jim" Carroll. Two of his paternal great-grandparents were Irish immigrants, and his Croatian maternal grandparents emigrated from around the region of Sibenik.[2] Carroll attended Redwood High School in Larkspur, California. After being an athlete in childhood, his lack of physical growth as a teenager caused him frustration in high school sports; weighing just 110 pounds (50 kg) as an incoming freshman, he was required to bring a special doctor's clearance in order to try out for football. He was a multi-sport star in football (playing quarterback, wide receiver, and defensive back), basketball, and baseball, earning the school's Athlete of the Year honors as a senior in 1969. He was inducted into the charter class of the Redwood High School Athletic Hall of Fame in April 2009.[3] Carroll has stated that one of his favorite players growing up was LSU defensive back Tommy Casanova, and that LSU was a place that he always wanted to coach.[4]


After high school, Carroll attended junior college at the nearby College of Marin, where he played football for two years (lettering in his second year) before transferring to the University of the Pacific,[5] where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.[6] At Pacific, Carroll played free safety for two years for the Tigers, earning All-Pacific Coast Athletic Conference honors both years (1971–72) and earning his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 1973.[5]

After graduation, Carroll tried out for the Honolulu Hawaiians of the World Football League at their training camp in Riverside but did not make the team due to shoulder problems combined with his small size.[7][8] To make ends meet, he found a job selling roofing materials in the Bay Area, but he found he was not good at it and soon moved on; it would be his only non-football-related job.[8]

Coaching career[edit]

Collegiate assistant (1973–1983)[edit]

Carroll's energetic and positive personality made a good impression on his head coach, Chester Caddas. When Caddas found out Carroll was interested in coaching, he offered him a job as a graduate assistant on his staff at Pacific.[5] Carroll agreed and enrolled as a graduate student, earning a secondary teaching credential and Master's degree in physical education in 1976, while serving as a graduate assistant for three years and working with the wide receivers and secondary defenders. The assistants at Pacific during this time included a number of other future successful coaches, including Greg Robinson, Jim Colletto, Walt Harris, Ted Leland, and Bob Cope.[5] Carroll was inducted into the Pacific Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995.

After graduating from Pacific, Carroll's colleague Bob Cope was hired by the University of Arkansas and he convinced Lou Holtz, then the head coach of the Razorbacks, to also hire Carroll.[5] Carroll spent the 1977 season as a graduate assistant working with the secondary under Cope, making $182 a month.[9] During his season with Arkansas, he met his future offensive line coach Pat Ruel, also a graduate assistant, as well as the future head coach of the Razorbacks Houston Nutt, who was a backup quarterback. Arkansas' Defensive Coordinator at the time, Monte Kiffin, would be a mentor to Carroll; Carroll's wife Glena would help babysit Monte's two-year-old son Lane Kiffin, who would later become Carroll's offensive coordinator at USC and then head coach of the Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Volunteers, and the head coach of USC.[9] The Razorbacks won the 1978 Orange Bowl that season.

The following season, Carroll moved to Iowa State University, where he was again an assistant working on the secondary under Earle Bruce.[5] When Bruce moved on to Ohio State University, he brought Carroll, who acted as an assistant coach in charge of the secondary. The Ohio State squad made it to the 1980 Rose Bowl where they lost to USC.

When Monte Kiffin was named head coach of North Carolina State University in 1980, he brought Carroll in as his defensive coordinator and secondary coach. In 1983, Bob Cope became head coach of Pacific and brought Carroll on as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator.[5]

National Football League (1984–1999)[edit]

Carroll left Pacific after a year and entered the NFL in 1984 as the defensive backs coach of the Buffalo Bills. The next year, he moved onto the Minnesota Vikings where he held a similar position for five seasons (1985–89).[8] In 1989, he was a candidate for the head coaching position at Stanford University; the position went to Dennis Green.[10] His success with the Vikings led to his hiring by the New York Jets, where he served as defensive coordinator under Bruce Coslet for four seasons (1990–93). When there was an opening for the Vikings' head coach position in 1992, he was a serious candidate but lost the position, again to Green.[8]

In 1994, Carroll was elevated to Head Coach of the Jets. Known for his energy and youthful enthusiasm, Carroll painted a basketball court in the parking lot of the team's practice facility where he and his assistant coaches regularly played three-on-three games during their spare time.[11] The Jets got off to a 6–5 start under Carroll, but in Week 12, he was the victim of Dan Marino's "clock play"—a fake spike that became a Miami Dolphins game-winning touchdown. The Jets lost all of their remaining games to finish 6–10. He was fired after one season.[11][12]

Carroll was hired for the next season by the San Francisco 49ers, where he served as defensive coordinator for the following two seasons (1995–96). His return to success as the defensive coordinator led to his hiring as the head coach of the New England Patriots in 1997, replacing coach Bill Parcells, who had resigned after disputes with the team's ownership. His 1997 Patriots team won the AFC East division title, but his subsequent two teams did not fare as well—losing in the wild card playoff round in 1998, and missing the playoffs after a late-season slide in 1999—and he was fired after the 1999 season. Patriots owner Robert Kraft said firing Carroll was one of the toughest decisions he has had to make since buying the team, stating, "A lot of things were going on that made it difficult for him to stay, some of which were out of his control. And it began with following a legend."[11] His combined NFL record as a head coach was 33–31, and he was later considered a much better fit for college football than the NFL after his success at USC.[13]

Even though several NFL teams approached him with defensive coordinator positions, Carroll instead spent the 2000 season as a consultant for pro and college teams, doing charitable work for the NFL, and writing a column about pro football for[10][14]

USC Trojans (2000–2009)[edit]


Carroll giving an interview after a fall practice in 2008

Carroll was named the Trojans' head coach on December 15, 2000, signing a five-year contract after USC had gone through a tumultuous 18-day search to replace fired coach Paul Hackett.[15][16][17] He was not the Trojans' first choice, and was considered a long shot as the USC Athletic Department under Director Mike Garrett initially planned to hire a high-profile coach with recent college experience.[18] Meanwhile Carroll, who had not coached in over a year and not coached in the college ranks since 1983, drew unfavorable comparisons to the outgoing Hackett.[17][19][20]

USC first pursued then-Oregon State coach Dennis Erickson, who instead signed a contract extension with the Beavers; then Oregon coach Mike Bellotti, who similarly signed an extension.[18] The search then moved to the San Diego Chargers coach Mike Riley, who had been an assistant coach at USC before later becoming the head coach of Oregon State. Stuck in contractual obligations to the Chargers (who were still in the midst of an NFL season) and hesitant about moving his family, Riley was unable to give a firm answer, opening an opportunity for Carroll, the school's fourth choice.[18][20]

Carroll actively pursued the position, as his daughter, Jaime, was then a player on the school's successful volleyball team.[18] After the first three primary candidates turned down the position, USC hired Carroll. Under Garrett, USC had tried to recruit Carroll to be their head coach in 1997, while he was coaching the Patriots, but Carroll was unable to take the position.[16] The second time the opening came up, Daryl Gross, then senior associate athletic director for USC, recommended Carroll to Garrett based on his experience as a former scout for the New York Jets while Carroll coached there.[21][22] Garrett cited Carroll's intelligence, energy and reputation as a defensive specialist as reasons for his hire.[16]

The choice of Carroll for USC's head coaching position was openly criticized by the media and many USC fans, primarily because of USC's stagnation under the outgoing Hackett and Carroll's record as a head coach in the NFL and being nearly two decades removed from the college level.[16][19][21][23][24][25] Garrett took particular criticism for the hire, with the press tying his future with Carroll's after he had to fire two head coaches in four years for USC's premiere athletic coaching position.[26] Former NFL players (including USC alumni) such as Ronnie Lott, Gary Plummer, Tim McDonald and Willie McGinest offered their support for Carroll, who they noted had a player-friendly, easygoing style that might suit the college game and particularly recruiting.[11][16][20] The USC Athletic Department received 2,500 e-mails, faxes and phone calls from alumni—mostly critical—and a number of donors asking for Carroll's removal before they would donate again.

Within a year of his hiring, many prominent critics reversed course.[21][27] In 2008, named Carroll's hiring number 1 in a list of the Pac-10's top ten moments of the BCS era.[28]


The criticism of Carroll became louder when Carroll's first USC team opened the 2001 season going 2–5, with some sportswriters writing off the once-dominant Trojans, who were the only Pac-10 football team to never finish in the national top 10 during the previous decade, as a dying program.[23][29] However, after the slow start, Carroll's teams proceeded to go 67–7 over the next 74 games, winning two national championships and playing for another.

Carroll was considered one of the most effective recruiters in college football, having brought in multiple top-ranked recruiting classes;[30][31] he was also known for getting commitments from nationally prominent players early in high school.[32] His son, Brennan Carroll, was USC's recruiting coordinator as well as the tight ends coach during the elder Carroll's tenure as head coach.[32] He had consistently been on the forefront of recruiting due to his ability to connect with potential players on their level, including becoming the first college coach with a Facebook page, as well as an early adopter of Twitter.[33][34]

Carroll leads his team through the "Trojan Walk", a tradition he created at USC in 2001.

Carroll's team won a then-school record 34 straight games from 2003 to 2005, a streak that started after a triple-overtime loss to California and ended with the national championship game against the Texas Longhorns in the 2006 Rose Bowl. Fourteen of those games were later vacated for breaking NCAA rules. During his tenure, USC broke its average home attendance record four times in a row (they play at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum); the USC home attendance average in 2001, his first season, was 57,744; by 2006, it was over 91,000. During this period, USC had a 35-game winning streak at the Coliseum, spanning 6 years (2001-2007). The streak began on Oct. 13, 2001, with a 48-17 win over the Arizona State Sun Devils and the final victory was a 47-14 win over the Washington State Cougars on Sept. 22, 2007. The streak ended on Oct. 6, 2007, with a 24–23 loss to the Stanford Cardinal who was a 41-point underdog. Prior to this the last loss was on Sept. 29, 2001, (during Carroll's first year) to Stanford Cardinal 21-16. The success of USC football under Carroll led to a sharp rise in overall athletic department revenue, growing from $38.6 million in Carroll's first season at USC to more than $76 million in 2007–08.[35]

Controversy arose when USC was excluded from the National Championship Game for the 2003 season, even though ranked #1 in both the Associated Press (AP) Poll and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. Years later, (2008) he was asked if winning the Rose Bowl was ever not enough. "No. You've got to understand that our mindset is to focus only on what we can control. We can only control getting to the Rose Bowl. Winning our conference and going to the Rose Bowl is what our goal is every year. Our goal isn't about national championships, because we don't have control of that -- that's in somebody else's hands. We found that out years ago [2003], when we were No. 1 but then we were No. 3. We already knew that but that just proved it. If we win our games and we're out there and they want us to go somewhere else, then we'll go. We love the Rose Bowl." [36]

Carroll was repeatedly approached regarding vacant head coach positions in the NFL beginning in 2002.[10][37][38][39] Carroll hesitated to return to the NFL after his previous experiences, and said that his return would likely rest on control over personnel matters at a level unprecedented in the league. He had insisted over the years that he was happy at USC and that money was not an issue; he also was said to enjoy the Southern California lifestyle.[40] When asked if he would retire at USC, Carroll responded:

I am prepared to do that. That's the way I look at it, like this is the last job I'm ever going to have. I approach it that way. Now, whether it is or not, I don't know. Someone asked me the other day, 'Does that mean you're never going to leave?' Why do people want to make you say that? I have no idea, but I can't imagine doing anything else. It's a great place to be. I've been so lucky and fortunate. I owe so much to the school and the people who follow it. And the guys who played for us. I love being here.[41]

When originally hired, Carroll signed a five-year contract worth approximately $1 million annually. He received a significant raise after the 2002 season and earned close to $3 million in the 2004 season, which ended with USC winning the BCS title in January 2005. He agreed to a contract extension in December 2005.[35] His total compensation, including pay and benefits, for the 2007 fiscal year was $4,415,714.[42]

On January 11, 2010, it was reported that Carroll would be leaving USC to coach the Seattle Seahawks. Carroll had told his players the previous evening that he would be resigning his position with the Trojans to become the new head coach of the Seattle Seahawks. According to the Los Angeles Times, Carroll came to agreement with the Seahawks on a 5-year $33 million contract to become head coach.[43]


Pete Carroll talking to a pro scout before a game; during his tenure, 53 USC players were drafted by the NFL.

As head coach, Pete Carroll led a resurgence of football at the University of Southern California. Carroll was generally regarded as one of the top college football coaches in the country,[31][44][45] and has been compared to College Football Hall of Fame coach Knute Rockne.[46][47] Program highlights under Carroll include:

In July 2007, named USC its #1 team of the decade for the period between 1996 and 2006, primarily citing the Trojans' renaissance and dominance under Carroll.[49][50] In 2007, his effect on the college football landscape was named one of the biggest developments over the past decade in ESPN the Magazine.[51] In May 2008, Carroll was named the coach who did the most to define the first 10 years of the BCS Era.[52]

In July 2014, Carroll was announced as a member of the 2015 USC Athletic Hall of Fame class.

NCAA sanctions[edit]

See University of Southern California athletics scandal.

NCAA ruling[edit]

On June 9, 2010, The Los Angeles Times reported that Carroll, along with other active and former USC officials, had appeared in front of a ten-member NCAA Committee on Infractions the previous February.[53] The next day, June 10, the NCAA announced sanctions against the USC football program including a two-year bowl ban, the elimination of thirty football scholarships, and forfeiture of some football victories from 2004–05 (a season which had included winning the Bowl Championship Series title), and all team victories from the undefeated 2005–06 regular season, when USC lost to Texas in the BCS title game.[54] With the vacated games removed, Carroll drops to fourth on USC's all-time wins list, behind John McKay, Howard Jones and John Robinson. His 97 on-field wins would put him ahead of Robinson for third in Trojan history.

The allegations centered on former Trojan star Reggie Bush. Bush was found to have accepted several improper gifts, including the use of a San Diego area home for members of his family. It was reported that USC might appeal the sanctions.[53] These sanctions have been criticized by some NCAA football writers,[55][56][57][58][59] including ESPN's Ted Miller, who wrote, "It's become an accepted fact among informed college football observers that the NCAA sanctions against USC were a travesty of justice, and the NCAA's refusal to revisit that travesty are [sic] a massive act of cowardice on the part of the organization."[60]

After Carroll announced that he was leaving for the Seahawks, he denied the possibility that the NCAA sanctions were a factor in his leaving USC to return to pro football in Seattle. "Not in any way," Carroll stated. "Because I know where we stand. It's just a process we have to go through. We know we've fought hard to do right."[61] Carroll was hired before the sanctions were announced.

Reacting to the USC sanctions in a video produced by his new employers, Carroll said on June 10, 2010, "I'm absolutely shocked and disappointed in the findings of the NCAA."[62] He said in 2014 during a visit to USC, "I thought [the NCAA's investigation into USC] was dealt with poorly and very irrationally and done with way too much emotion instead of facts. I sat in the meetings. I listened to the people talk. I listened to the venom that they had for our program... They tried to make it out like it was something else. They made a terrible error."[63] In 2015, he said, "We had so much success and we had so much fun doing it, it was uncommon for people to understand. ... I think it rubbed people the wrong way. There was such a bitterness."[64]


Wrote Los Angeles Times sportswriter Jerry Crowe, "It's somehow apt that the Trojans were asked to return the Grantland Rice Trophy after being stripped of the 2004 Football Writers Assn. of America national championship... Grantland Rice was the legendary early 20th century sportswriter who wrote, 'When the great scorer comes/to mark against your name/He'll write not 'won' or 'lost'/but how you played the game.'"[65]

Among Carroll's critics in the media was longtime Los Angeles Times sportswriter Bill Plaschke, who said that in one stroke, Carroll went

from a coach who presided over the greatest days in USC football history to one who was in charge of its biggest embarrassment. He goes from saint to scallywag. Carroll says he didn't know about the Bush violations. That now seems impossible... ...he made $33 million from violations that will cost his old school its reputation, and folks here will never look at him the same.[66]

Sporting News writer Mike Florio called for the Seahawks to fire Carroll, saying that "justice won't truly be served until the only coaching Carroll ever does entails holding an Xbox controller."[67]

On August 26, 2010, the Football Writers Association of America announced it would take back USC's 2004 Grantland Rice Trophy and leave that year's award vacant, the only vacancy in the over half century of the history of the award. The FWAA also said it would not consider USC as a candidate for the award for the 2010 season. New USC athletic director Pat Haden said USC would return the trophy, stating, "While we know that some fans and former student-athletes may be disappointed, our central priority at this time is our overall commitment to compliance and this action is in line with the standards we have set for our entire athletic program."[68]

Seattle Seahawks (2010–present)[edit]

2010 season[edit]

After the Seattle Seahawks fired head coach Jim L. Mora after one season, Carroll was rumored to be in the running for the job.[69] On January 8, 2010, it was reported that Carroll was about to be hired as head coach of the Seahawks; the two parties were hammering out "minor details" in the pending contract.[70] According to the Los Angeles Times, Carroll was "close to reaching an agreement with the Seattle Seahawks on Friday evening."[71] On the morning of January 9, 2010, Carroll reportedly came to agreement with the Seahawks on a 5-year contract that would appoint him as head coach.[69] He was officially hired as the Seahawks' head coach on January 11.[43] He was also named executive vice president of football operations, effectively making him the Seahawks' general manager as well. While the Seahawks have a general manager in John Schneider, he serves mainly in an advisory role to Carroll, who has the final say in football matters. In fact, Schneider was actually hired by Carroll—a rare case of the head coach hiring the general manager.[citation needed]

In his first season, Carroll almost completely overturned the Seahawks roster, totaling over 200 transactions in the course of only one season. However, these moves paved the way for a 4–2 start to the 2010 season.[72] Although Seattle faltered through the latter half of the season, the team beat their NFC West division rival Rams in the final week of the regular season for the division championship, becoming the first 7–9 team in NFL history to win a division title.[73] Carroll made even more history as the Seahawks later upset the then-Super Bowl Champions New Orleans Saints by a score of 41-36 during the Wild Card Round of the playoffs, behind running back Marshawn Lynch and the famed Beast Quake run.[74] However, the following week at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois, they then fell to the Chicago Bears, whom they had defeated earlier in the season, in the Divisional Round by a score of 35-24.[75]

2011 season[edit]

In 2011, Carroll again coached the Seahawks to a 7-9 record,[76] but it was not enough to secure a playoff spot due to the ascendance of Carroll's old college rival coach Jim Harbaugh and division rival San Francisco 49ers, who finished with a 13-3 record.[77]

2012 season[edit]

In his third season with the Seahawks in 2012, Carroll, along with rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, led the team to an 11-5 record, including going undefeated at home.[78] The 2012 season was Carroll's first winning season for the team. The Seahawks were also involved in controversy during Week 3's Monday Night Football game against the Green Bay Packers in Seattle, when the replacement officials called two different results for Russell Wilson's Hail Mary pass to wide receiver Golden Tate. The officials called the play in the Seahawks' favor, igniting a national outrage about the officiating.[79][80] When the NFL referee lockout ended several days later, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged that public furor over the call accelerated the eventual resolution of the labor dispute.[81] Carroll's record was enough to post the team's second playoff berth, and the Seahawks won their Wild Card Round playoff game on the road against the Washington Redskins and fellow rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, 24-14.[82] Seattle lost the following week in the Divisional Round to the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome by a score of 30-28.[83]

2013 season: Super Bowl run[edit]

Pete Carroll in the Super Bowl champions parade in Seattle

The Seattle Seahawks 2013 season began with four consecutive preseason wins,[84] and odds-makers had distinguished them as the favorite in the NFC.[citation needed] The regular season began with a 12-7 victory at Carolina.[85] The prior year's NFC Champions and divisional rival, the San Francisco 49ers, were blown out by the Seahawks, 29–3.[86] Winning out September, they visited the Colts in Indianapolis and suffered their first loss, on October 6.[87] That was the only loss Carroll, and team, would suffer until December. Heading to San Francisco for their second match-up against their divisional foe, the Seahawks were consensus best in NFC, posting an 11–1 record. However, the game was in stark contrast to their first in September. The 49ers edged out a 19–17 win, yet the Seahawks' then 11–2 record was still best in the conference.[88] The penultimate game, against the Arizona Cardinals, was Seattle's attempt to continue their at-home winning streak to 15 games (record started in Week 2 of the 2012 season). Although the Seahawks had won their three prior meetings, including one earlier in the year, the Cardinals had steadily improved during the season. The at-home win streak did not reach 15. The Cardinals won, and Seattle suffered its third loss of the year.[89] Their regular-season finale, against the St. Louis Rams, established a new at-home streak of one, and Carroll concluded the regular season at 13–3.[90] The number one team (and playoff seed) in the NFC, Carroll matched Mike Holmgren's 2005 season of the same record, tying for the best in Seattle history.[91] The Seahawks defeated the Saints in the Divisional Round of the playoffs by a score of 23-15.[92] In the NFC Championship Game, cornerback Richard Sherman tipped a Colin Kaepernick pass into the waiting arms of Malcolm Smith to secure a 23-17 win over the 49ers.[93]

Pete Carroll embracing Richard Sherman at Super Bowl XLVIII

On February 2, 2014, Carroll led the Seattle Seahawks to their first Super Bowl win in franchise history after defeating the Denver Broncos, 43–8, in Super Bowl XLVIII.[94] Carroll joined Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson as the only coaches to win both an NCAA championship and a Super Bowl.[95] At age 62, Carroll was the third-oldest coach to win a Super Bowl. Tom Coughlin was 65 when his Giants won Super Bowl XLVI and Dick Vermeil was 63 when the St. Louis Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV.[96]

2014 season: Second consecutive NFC championship[edit]

The following season, the Seahawks started off their quest to repeat as champions with a 36–16 defeat of the Green Bay Packers on Thursday Night Football in the first game of the NFL season.[97] A Super Bowl XLVIII rematch came in Week 3, with Seattle again defeating Peyton Manning and the Broncos, 26–20 in overtime.[98] However, losses to San Diego, Dallas, St. Louis, and Kansas City caused the defending champions to start the season with a 6-4 record,[99] three games behind the division leading Cardinals. After a team meeting following a Week 11 loss, the Seahawks finished the regular season 6-0 to finish with a 12-4 record. As the #1 seed in the playoffs, the Seahawks beat the Panthers in the Divisional Round, 31–17, to get to their second straight NFC Championship.[100] After trailing 19–7 to the Packers with just over two minutes remaining in the NFC Championship, the Seahawks launched a furious comeback to force overtime. On the first possession of overtime, Russell Wilson hit wide receiver Jermaine Kearse for a game-winning touchdown that sent the Seahawks to their second straight Super Bowl.[101] On February 1, 2015, Carroll's Seahawks lost Super Bowl XLIX to the New England Patriots, 28–24. With 25 seconds to go on second down and goal at the Patriots' 1-yard line, and the Seahawks trailing by four points, Carroll called for a pass play. Wilson's pass was intercepted by Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler on the goal line, and the Patriots ran out the clock.[102] Some have called Carroll's play-call on the play "the worst play-call in NFL history." [103]

2015 season[edit]

The 2015 offseason was one full of criticism for Carroll, Wilson, and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell after the ending of Super Bowl XLIX. However, Carroll was praised by much of the national media for how he handled the adversity following the game. The Seahawks began the 2015 season by blowing fourth quarter leads to St. Louis,[104] Green Bay,[105] Cincinnati,[106] Carolina,[107] and Arizona.[108] After losing at home on Sunday Night Football to the division leading Cardinals, Seattle sat at 4-5. However, Carroll rejuvenated his team enough to win their next five games, putting the Seahawks at 9-5 and clinching a playoff berth.[109] Russell Wilson became the first quarterback to throw 19 or more touchdown passes without any interceptions over five or more wins. The Seahawks ended the regular season with a revengeful win against Arizona, beating the NFC West champions 36-6 on the road.[110] Seattle entered the postseason as the #6 seed, winning its Wild Card matchup against the Minnesota Vikings after Vikings kicker Blair Walsh missed a 27-yard field goal for a final score of 10-9.[111] The Seahawks would later fall to the Carolina Panthers in the Divisional Round 31-24, after being down 31-0 at the half, and as a result, the Seahawks would not reach a third consecutive Super Bowl appearance.[112]

2016 season[edit]

On July 25, 2016, Carroll signed a three-year contract extension with the Seahawks that will keep him in Seattle through the 2019 season. Carroll's Seahawks once again had high expectations leading into the 2016 season, but injuries to key players on both sides of the ball eventually became too much to overcome. The Seahawks were able to start the season with a 4-1 record,[113] despite Russell Wilson playing with a hurt ankle sustained in the season opener against the Miami Dolphins.[114] In Week 10, the Seahawks travelled to New England to play the Patriots for the first time since the Super Bowl XLIX loss, and came away with a 31-24 victory to push the Seahawks to 6-2-1.[115] Carroll notched his 100th regular-season win the following week against the Eagles.[116][117] The Seahawks clinched the NFC West in Week 15, following a 24-3 victory over the Rams.[118] It was Carroll's fourth NFC West division title in his seven seasons with the team, and sixth playoff appearance. In the Wild Card round, the Seahawks dominated the Detroit Lions in a 26-6 victory.[119] The victory extended Seattle's playoff home game win streak to 10 consecutive wins, 6 of which have come under Carroll. The Seahawks were eliminated in the divisional round for the second straight year in 2016, losing 36-20 to the Atlanta Falcons.[120] In his season-ending press conference, Carroll revealed that cornerback Richard Sherman had been playing with a "significant" MCL injury, which attracted attention because Sherman had not been listed on the injury report throughout the season.[121]

Head coaching record[edit]


Team Year Regular season Postseason
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
NYJ 1994 6 10 0 .375 5th in AFC East
NYJ total 6 10 0 .375
NE 1997 10 6 0 .625 1st in AFC East 1 1 .500 Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers in AFC Divisional Game
NE 1998 9 7 0 .563 4th in AFC East 0 1 .000 Lost to Jacksonville Jaguars in AFC Wild-Card Game
NE 1999 8 8 0 .500 4th in AFC East
NE total 27 21 0 .563 1 2 .333
SEA 2010 7 9 0 .438 1st in NFC West 1 1 .500 Lost to Chicago Bears in NFC Divisional Game
SEA 2011 7 9 0 .438 3rd in NFC West
SEA 2012 11 5 0 .688 2nd in NFC West 1 1 .500 Lost to Atlanta Falcons in NFC Divisional Game
SEA 2013 13 3 0 .813 1st in NFC West 3 0 1.000 Super Bowl XLVIII champions
SEA 2014 12 4 0 .750 1st in NFC West 2 1 .667 Lost to New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX
SEA 2015 10 6 0 .625 2nd in NFC West 1 1 .500 Lost to Carolina Panthers in NFC Divisional Game
SEA 2016 10 5 1 .656 1st in NFC West 1 1 .500 Lost to Atlanta Falcons in NFC Divisional Game
SEA 2017 9 7 0 .563 2nd in NFC West
SEA total 79 48 1 .621 9 5 .643
Total[122] 112 79 1 .586 10 7 .588


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
USC Trojans (Pacific-10 Conference) (2001–2009)
2001 USC 6–6 5–3 5th L Las Vegas
2002 USC 11–2 7–1 T–1st W Orange 4 4
2003 USC 12–1 7–1 1st W Rose 2 1
2004 USC 13–0[a] 8–0[a] 1st W[b] Orange 1[c] 1
2005 USC 12–1[d] 8–0[d] 1st L Rose 2 2
2006 USC 11–2 7–2 T–1st W Rose 4 4
2007 USC 11–2 7–2 T–1st W Rose 2 3
2008 USC 12–1 8–1 1st W Rose 2 3
2009 USC 9–4 5–4 T–5th W Emerald 20 22
USC: 97–19 (83–19) 63–14 (53–14)
Total: 97–19
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth

Coaching tree[edit]

Head coaches under whom Carroll has served:

  • Lou Holtz William and Mary Tribe (1969–1971); NC State Wolfpack (1972–1975); New York Jets (1976); Arkansas Razorbacks (1977–1983); Minnesota Golden Gophers (1984–1985); Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1986–1996); South Carolina Gamecocks (1999–2004)
  • Monte Kiffin NC State Wolfpack (1980–1982)
  • Jerry Burns Iowa Hawkeyes (1961–1965); Minnesota Vikings (1986–1991)
  • Earle Bruce Tampa Spartans (1972); Iowa State Cyclones (1973–1978); Ohio State Buckeyes (1979–1987); Colorado State Rams (1989–1992); Iowa Barnstormers (2003); Columbus Destroyers (2004)
  • Kay Stephenson Buffalo Bills (1983–1985); Sacramento Surge (1991–1992); Sacramento Gold Miners (1993–1994); San Antonio Texans (1995); Edmonton Eskimos (1998)
  • George Seifert Westminster Parsons (1965); Cornell Big Red (1975–1976); San Francisco 49ers (1989–1996); Carolina Panthers (1999–2001)
  • Bruce Coslet New York Jets (1990–1993); Cincinnati Bengals (1997–2000)
  • Bud Grant Winnipeg Blue Bombers (1957–1966); Minnesota Vikings (1967–1983, 1985)

Assistant coaches under Carroll who became NFL or NCAA head coaches:

  • Pete Carroll

Personal awards[edit]


  • 2003 American Football Coaches Association Division I-A Coach of the Year
  • Home Depot National Coach of the Year
  • Maxwell Club College Coach of the Year
  • National Coach of the Year
  • Pigskin Club of Washington D.C. Coach of the Year
  • All-American Football Foundation Frank Leahy Co-Coach of the Year
  • Pac-10 Co-Coach of the Year


  • 2004 National Quarterback Club College Coach of the Year
  • 2004 Pac-10 Coach of the Year



  • Pac-10 Coach of the Year[126]


  • PFWA's Jack Horrigan Award
  • ESPY Award for Best Coach (Nominated)

Coaching style[edit]

On offense, Carroll is known for using aggressive play-calling that is open to trick plays as well as "going for it" on 4th down instead of punting the ball away.[127] Because of his aggressive style, the USC band gave him the nickname "Big Balls Pete". At USC home games, when Carroll decided to go for it on 4th down, the USC band would start a chant of "Big Balls Pete" that carried over to the students section and the alumni.[7][128][129]

On defense, Carroll favors a bend-but-don't-break scheme of preventing the big plays: allowing opposing teams to get small yardage but trying to keep the plays in front of his defenders.[130]

Carroll draws coaching inspiration from the 1974 book The Inner Game of Tennis by tennis coach W. Timothy Gallwey, which he picked up as graduate student at the University of the Pacific; he summarizes the philosophy he took from the book as "all about clearing the clutter in the interactions between your conscious and subconscious mind", enabled "through superior practice and a clear approach. Focus, clarity and belief in yourself are what allows [sic] you to express your ability without discursive thoughts and concerns."[131] He wrote a foreword for a later edition, noting that athletes "must clear their minds of all confusion and earn the ability to let themselves play freely."[22] He also cites influences from psychologists Abraham Maslow and Carl Jung, Buddhist meditation master Chögyam Trungpa, and Zen master D. T. Suzuki.[7]

"Reading Wooden, I realized: If I'm gonna be a competitor, if I'm ever going to do great things, I'm going to have to carry a message that's strong and clear and nobody's going to miss the point ever about what I'm all about. . . . Jerry Garcia said that he didn't want his band to be the best ones doing something. He wanted them to be the only ones doing it. To be all by yourself out there doing something that nobody else can touch — that's the thought that guides me, that guides this program: We're going to do things better than it's ever been done before in everything we do, and we're going to compete our ass off. And we're gonna see how far that takes us."
— Carroll on how John Wooden and Jerry Garcia influenced his coaching philosophy.[7]

After he was fired by the New England Patriots, Carroll read a book by former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden which heavily influenced how he would run his future program at USC: emulating Wooden, Carroll decided to engineer his program in the way that best exemplified his personal philosophy. He decided his philosophy was best summarized as "I'm a competitor".[7] As a fan of the Grateful Dead, Carroll then tied Wooden's thoughts into those by Jerry Garcia, and decided that he wanted his football program to not be the best, but the only program following his competitive philosophy.[7]

Carroll is known for his high-energy and often pleasant demeanor when coaching.[22][132][133] In explaining his enthusiasm, Carroll has stated, "I always think something good's just about to happen."[30] In a 2005 interview, Carroll explained his motivation:

I feel like I should be playing now. What really pissed me off was going to the WFL (World Football League) and getting cut and having the NFL go on strike and not being able to get a connection with the scabs (replacement players). Just one game and I think I would have been happy. Absolutely it was a motivator for me later in life. It's one of the biggest reasons I've been coaching all these years. I tell the players all the time, I wish I was doing what they were doing.[8]

Carroll has been known to plan elaborate surprises and pranks during practice to lighten the mood and reward the players; notable examples include using a Halloween practice to stage a fake argument and subsequent falling death of runningback LenDale White, having defensive end Everson Griffen arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department during a team meeting for "physically abusing" freshman offensive linemen, and several pranks involving USC alumnus and comedic actor Will Ferrell.[134][135][136][137][138][139] During practices, Carroll frequently gets involved doing drills: running sprints and routes as well as throwing the ball.[22][140] Under Carroll, nearly all USC practices were open to the public, a move that was uncommon among programs; he believed that having fans at practice helped his team prepare, making mundane drills seem more interesting, causing players to perform at a high level when they know they have an audience and preparing them for larger crowds on game days.[141][142]

Despite his penchant for humor, Carroll's USC program had strictly prescribed routines that covered what players were allowed to eat, the vocabulary they used, and the theme of daily practices. Under his tenure, days had descriptive nicknames like Tell the Truth Monday, Competition Tuesday, Turnover Wednesday.[7]

Carroll favorably compared college recruiting to any other competition, and enjoys the ability to recruit talent, which he was unable to do in the NFL. He likens being a college head coach to being both the "coach and general manager."[22] He assigned all jersey numbers to his players, an assignment he takes seriously. When he was an incoming freshman at Pacific, he wanted No. 40, the number he had worn in all sports growing up; however, Pacific had retired the number in honor of quarterback/safety Eddie LeBaron, so Carroll ended up with 46.[143]


After moving to Los Angeles, Carroll was affected by the number of gang-related murders taking place in poorer areas. In April 2003, Carroll helped organize a meeting with political leaders, high-ranking law enforcement officials and representatives from social service, education and faith-based communities at USC's Heritage Hall for a brainstorming session. The result was the founding of A Better LA, a charity devoted to reducing violence in targeted urban areas of Los Angeles.[144][145]

Work with children[edit]

In April 2009, Carroll launched, a multi-player online game "billed as a ground-breaking Web site aimed at bringing Coach Carroll's unique Win Forever philosophy to kids all over the country by taking advantage of one of the hottest technology trends online, the virtual world."[146] The site, which can be accessed by creating a virtual avatar, includes arcade-style games, motivational messages from Coach Carroll and a sports trivia section as well as a collection of virtual football skills workshops for kids.[147] A portion of the proceeds from go to support A Better LA.[148][149]

Personal life[edit]

Carroll's wife Glena (née Goranson) played indoor volleyball at the University of the Pacific.[150] Together the couple have three children: elder son Brennan, daughter Jaime, and younger son Nathan.[151] Through Brennan and his wife Amber, he has one grandchild, Dillon Brennan Carroll.[152][153] Brennan Carroll played tight end at the University of Pittsburgh after transferring from University of Delaware; he graduated from Pitt in 2001 and joined his father as a graduate assistant (he is now an assistant coach).[154] Jaime Carroll started attending USC in the fall of 2000, several months before her father was hired as football coach; she was a player on the Women of Troy's women's volleyball team.[155] Nathan Carroll graduated from USC with a bachelor's degree in May 2010.[14] In 2010, Nathan joined his father Pete as an Assistant for the Seahawks. Carroll's late father-in-law, Dean Goranson, graduated with a Master's degree from USC.[154] His older brother, Jim Carroll, played tackle at Pacific, operated a few businesses in the upper Midwest, and is now retired in Phoenix, Arizona.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b As a result of the 2011 NCAA sanctions imposed on USC because of the ineligibility of Reggie Bush, two of the Trojans' victories were vacated, including one Pac-10 conference victory and their Orange Bowl victory.
  2. ^ As a result of action taken by the BCS presidents' oversight committee on June 6, 2011, the Trojans' BCS Championship has been vacated. No successor champion was designated, and there is no BCS champion for the 2004–2005 college football season.
  3. ^ As of June 7, 2011, USC still retains the AP Poll championship for the 2004 season.[123]
  4. ^ a b As a result of the 2011 NCAA sanctions imposed on Southern Cal because of the ineligibility of Reggie Bush, all twelve of the Trojans' regular season victories were vacated, including eight Pac-10 conference victories, as well as the Rose Bowl loss


  1. ^ The other two are Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer. See Willis, George (February 1, 2014) "Carrol Could Join Rare Company with Super Bowl Title". New York Post. (Retrieved January 27, 2015.)
  2. ^ "Pete Carroll ancestry". 
  3. ^ Adam Rose, Pete Carroll: The high school years,, April 8, 2009, Accessed April 10, 2009; In his college coaching days, Carroll would go to downtown L.A. and talk to the bloods and crips, he was trying to be a mentor for gang members and influence them positively. He would sometimes bring them to the stadium to watch practices. Pete Carroll, 1969, Redwood High School Athletic Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 10, 2009.
  4. ^ Kleinpeter, Jim (November 3, 2016). "Ed Orgeron says Pete Carroll 'wanted to coach at LSU'". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved December 31, 2016. 
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  12. ^ See also Eskenazi, Gerald (1998) – GANG GREEN: An Irreverent Look Behind The Scenes At Thirty-Eight (well, Thirty-Seven) Seasons Of New York Jets Football Futility (New York: Simon & Schuster)
  13. ^ NFL Top 10 – Coaches who belonged in college
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Other sources[edit]

External links[edit]