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Originally published January 8, 2010 at 10:00 PM | Page modified January 11, 2010 at 12:09 AM

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Steve Kelley

Picking Pete Carroll would make bad situation worse

The Seahawks, who seem blinded by Carroll's success at USC, are forgetting his less-than-stellar marks in the NFL.

Seattle Times staff columnist

Pete Carroll

All signs point toward USC coach Pete Carroll as the next Seahawks coach.

Age: 58, born Sept. 15, 1951 in San Francisco.

College: University of the Pacific, Stockton, Calif. Carroll was an all-conference free safety for two seasons at Pacific (1971-72) after two years at College of Marin.

Year by year coaching record

1974-76: University of the Pacific, graduate assistant, wide receivers (1974), secondary (1975-76).

1977: Arkansas, graduate assistant, secondary.

1978: Iowa State, secondary coach.

1979: Ohio State, secondary coach.

1980-82: North Carolina State, defensive coordinator, secondary coach.

1983: Pacific, assistant head coach, offensive coordinator.

1984: Buffalo Bills, defensive backs coach.

1985-89: Minnesota Vikings, defensive backs coach.

1990-93: New York Jets, defensive coordinator.

1994: New York Jets, head coach (6-10).

1995-96: San Francisco 49ers, defensive coordinator.

1997-99: New England Patriots, head coach (27-21).

2001-09: USC, head coach (96-19).

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Pete Carroll? Really? Is that all the Seahawks have for their beleaguered fans?

Pete Carroll? The guy who lasted one season with the New York Jets and finished 6-10? The guy who was fired after three seasons as the coach of the Patriots?

He inherited a Super Bowl team in New England. The Patriots got progressively worse each season.

Pete Carroll? Isn't he a college coach? A rah-rah guy? The ace recruiter, who stacked his USC rosters with two of everything, like a modern day Noah?

Hasn't Carroll been stalked for the past several years by NCAA investigators, and isn't he this close to getting his school punished by college sports' governing body?

Doesn't this feel, just a little bit, like a coach running away from his troubles John Calipari-like and leaving it to the university to clean up his messes?

Pete Carroll? Is that the Seahawks' best answer for these past two losing seasons?

Pete Carroll? Are the Hawks really making him president as well as coach? Giving him Holmgren-like powers, more power than Carroll's had in any job ever? Based on what NFL track record, exactly?

What's happening here? Since when did this franchise become Cirque du Seahawk? Who's running this team? Barnum? Or Bailey? Maybe they should put a big top over Qwest Field next season.

How many mistakes can one franchise make?

Just because hiring one USC football coach is working in Seattle — Washington hiring Carroll's former offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian — it doesn't mean an SC coach is the answer to all of this city's pigskin problems.

Pete Carroll? Are the Seahawks serious? Isn't this just another in a series of ham-handed moves by this once-proud franchise?

On Friday morning, Jim Mora was admittedly "shocked" by the news that he no longer was the Seahawks' head coach.

Two days earlier, in what now looks like a charade of a news conference, he talked optimistically about the future and about his responsibility to the community to turn around the team.

While what is left of the front office was less than 48 hours away from terminating him, he unknowingly was forced to talk about the future, the Hawks' future, his future, as if he were going to be part of it.

It was another graceless gesture by this mess of a football operation.

Now Mora is gone and Carroll appears to be the Hawks' top choice to succeed him.

Mora is gone after just one season of trying to win with a can't-win roster.

I believe a new general manager should be able to hire his own coach. From that standpoint, I don't have a problem with Mora's firing.

And, after a 5-11 season, if owner Paul Allen wanted to get rid of Mora, he certainly had the right.

But I don't think Mora ever was given a fair chance. I mean, has one franchise ever gone about a coaching hire quite as clumsily as the Seahawks did when they brought Mora to Seattle?

This was a disaster from the moment Mora was designated as Mike Holmgren's successor, a year before Holmgren left.

For that final season, Mora cast a shadow over the organization. He was an assistant coach, but he was the future coach. As much as he tried to avoid the bright lights, Mora hovered uncomfortably in some football purgatory.

Tim Ruskell, the president and general manager who hired Mora, misguidedly believed that having Holmgren's successor in place would allow the team to "hit the ground running" when Holmgren left.

But this season's Seahawks didn't run or hit.

Mora had a bad year. The team didn't get better. There were problems in the locker room. Players questioned the play-calling of offensive coordinator Greg Knapp.

But Mora was asked to do the impossible. He was expected to succeed a legend like Holmgren and win with a roster that was as thin as Kelly Jennings.

The personnel was so bad, Ruskell resigned in early December, knowing his contract wasn't going to be renewed at the end of the season.

Now the Seahawks' decision-makers appear to be going for the glitter. They've got stars in their eyes. They are blinded by Carroll's college success, forgetting how poorly he did as an NFL head coach.

Is Pete Carroll the best solution for a better Seahawks tomorrow?

Pete Carroll?

Really?

Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or skelley@seattletimes.com.

More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists

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About Steve Kelley

Steve Kelley covers all sports, putting his spin on matters involving both the home team and the nation.
skelley@seattletimes.com | 206-464-2176

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