Seahawks' Pete Carroll speaks out about Oregon, NCAA and not drafting a quarterback
In a wide-ranging discussion at The Seattle Times, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll takes shots at NCAA and a good-natured jab at the Oregon Ducks.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Pete Carroll has some time on his hands these days.
The NFL draft is done, the league's 32 teams are prohibited from contacting players because of the ongoing lockout, and when that will end is the subject of ongoing litigation.
Last weekend would have been a three-day minicamp. Instead of decompressing, Carroll and his coaching staff spent 90 minutes Monday morning looking at schedule possibilities for all the potential outcomes of the labor dispute. And then the Seahawks' coach spent an hour of his afternoon at The Seattle Times, where he spoke to a regional meeting of the Associated Press Sports Editors.
The discussion was quintessentially Carroll — as fast paced as it was wide ranging. He addressed everything from Seattle's decision not to draft a quarterback to whether college athletes should be paid and even managed a few jabs at the University of Oregon's expense.
"They've got the greatest facilities in the world," Carroll said. "Nike — I mean, um — they have the greatest facilities going. They really have the program going. Phil's coaching great."
All in good fun. Chip Kelly is Oregon's coach, not Phil Knight. Kelly was even invited in to watch Seahawks practice last year. Count Carroll among those impressed by the Ducks.
"It's a tremendous program to watch right now," Carroll said. "They're innovative, and Chip is at a real cutting edge of what he's doing."
Carroll complimented Oregon's competition, too. Steve Sarkisian, a former Carroll assistant at USC, has Washington on the rise. The Huskies beat Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl, quite a turnaround considering Nebraska beat Washington 57-21 at Husky Stadium in September. Carroll compared that bowl victory to the Seahawks' playoff win over New Orleans Saints.
"What's the difference between beating Nebraska and beating the Saints?" Carroll asked. "It was pretty much the same. Look what they did."
As for the Seahawks and why they didn't pick a quarterback in last year's draft?
"We didn't think we could afford to yet," Carroll said.
It was a telling comment, one that shows how Carroll plans to build this team. The NFL has been described as a quarterback's league, but Carroll saw the offensive line as the more urgent situation facing his team. That's why Seattle chose offensive tackle James Carpenter in the first round and followed with guard John Moffitt in the third.
"You saw us go after a couple guys that were offensive linemen, which is an area that — without that — the quarterback can't play," Carroll said.
The only quarterback mentioned by name Monday, was Charlie Whitehurst. Matt Hasselbeck is unsigned and scheduled to become a free agent. The team hopes Hasselbeck can be re-signed, but Carroll said the Seahawks have several contingency plans once free agency begins.
The most interesting insight Carroll offered was about the NCAA. Carroll coached USC for nine years before coming to Seattle, and he was asked about the way the NCAA monitors and enforces its rules, something he has firsthand experience as USC was placed on probation after he left.
Carroll said he believes the NCAA starts with the objective of finding wrongdoing, something that is reactive rather than trying to protect the game from outside influences to prevent problems. He pointed out that schools are being punished for actions of people who aren't even affiliated with the university.
"If you notice, it's people from outside the community of the actual working body of the university," Carroll said. "In our situation at USC, it was absolutely that. What are we doing about that? How are we dealing with that?"
Instead, the focus is on after-the-fact punishment.
"You can only spank them so many times," Carroll said. "I don't think that has anything to do with making things right."
As for paying college players? "No," he said. "I've never thought that. That's not the issue. They have a great life."
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