Carroll Agrees To Coach Seahawks

Los Angeles (AP) — Pete Carroll is gone from USC and back in the NFL, taking over as coach of the Seattle Seahawks after getting an offer he could not refuse. After days of talks, the Seahawks hired the charismatic coach away from Southern California on Monday. “The university graciously approached me to stay but this choice is about pursuing the great challenges of competing in the NFL and I found this opportunity too compelling to pass up,” Carroll said in a statement released by the university. Carroll was scheduled to hold a news conference at USC later Monday. He ends one of the most successful runs in college football history with a 97-19 record, two national championships and seven Pac-10 titles. But he also leaves with the school bracing for the findings of an NCAA investigation of the football program and coming off its worst season (9-4) since Carroll’s first at USC. “The nine years at USC have been the best years of my coaching life,” Carroll said in the statement. The hiring of the 58-year-old Carroll caps a busy weekend for Seahawks chief executive Tod Leiweke. On Friday, the team fired coach Jim Mora following just one season and Leiweke spent Sunday 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. Next up for Leiweke is to hire a general manager. Seattle forced general manager and president Tim Ruskell to leave on Dec. 3. The Seahawks are expected to formally introduce Carroll at their headquarters in Renton, Wash., on Tuesday. Carroll was 6-10 in 1994 with the Jets and then 27-21 while twice reaching the playoffs from ’97-99 with the Patriots. He was hired by USC in December 2000, and by 2002 _ after years of mediocrity and underachievement _ the Trojans were back to being one of the elite teams in college football. The Seahawks are also in need of some major rebuilding, just four seasons after the team made its first and only Super Bowl appearance. Seattle went 5-11 this season. “We now turn our full attention to the hiring process for a general manager,” Leiweke said. “Our intended structure is for Pete and the new GM to work in a collaborative capacity on football matters.” How much control Carroll would have over football operations with the Seahawks was a key issue throughout the negotiations. Carroll’s departure and the expected upheaval of the entire USC coaching staff leaves the Trojans’ football program leaderless at a difficult time. The school has been under NCAA scrutiny for several years due as the organization investigates allegations former Trojans tailback Reggie Bush received improper benefits from a marketing agent. Carroll told The Los Angeles Times the looming NCAA investigation had nothing to do with his decision to leave USC. Another potential NCAA problem arose last month when USC running back Joe McKnight was forced to sit out the Emerald Bowl while the school investigated his use of an SUV that was not registered to him. McKnight, along with star wide receiver Damian Williams, declared for the NFL draft as juniors last week. With national signing day for college football recruits on Feb. 3, the timing of Carroll’s move also puts USC’s recruiting class in flux. USC has already sanctioned its basketball program for recruiting violations involving former player O.J. Mayo, including a ban on postseason play _ including the Pac-10 tournament _ this season. Mayo allegedly received improper cash and gifts while at USC and playing for former coach Tim Floyd, who quit in June. Carroll flirted with the Miami Dolphins and the Atlanta Falcons in recent years, but did not take a the plunge for a third NFL stint until the Seahawks, with owner and Microsoft Corp. tycoon Paul Allen, came calling last week. Even outside football, Carroll has become a prominent figure in Los Angeles during his tenure in the nation’s second-largest media market. His charity endeavors, including his A Better LA foundation, and social work with inner city youth have earned high praise. Oregon State coach Mike Riley, a former USC assistant and one of the first names to surface as a possible candidate to replace Carroll, agreed to a three-year contract extension Monday.