Five years, $35 million and the title of coach and president of the Seattle Seahawks. Pete Carroll is reportedly all but gone as USC coach, ending a glorious nine-year run that saw the Trojans win 97 of 116 games, seven Pacific 10 titles and two national championships.
Which brings this question: Why?
The convenient out: The NCAA is about to put the hammer down on USC.
Not necessarily the case.
Concern over NCAA sanctions have circled the Trojan program since 2005, when two would-be sports marketers allegedly gave cash and gifts to Heisman Trophy running back Reggie Bush and his family. There are no indications NCAA sanctions are imminent.
A more realistic reason for Carroll's expected departure is his increasingly strained relationship with unpopular athletic director Mike Garrett.
T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times wrote last month about Garrett's lack of public support for Carroll after allegations surfaced that running back Joe McKnight violated NCAA rules by driving a 2006 Land Rover owned by a Santa Monica businessman:
"Here we go again, Pete Carroll now on the spot, the perception nationally the Trojans' football program is out of control, if not in need of an NCAA spanking, and Garrett is nowhere to be found to assist the guy who saved his career.
"Garrett owes every day on the job, every penny earned to Carroll after stumbling across him almost a decade ago and hiring him to take the job Mike Riley, Dennis Erickson and Mike Bellotti turned down."
Garrett was spotted at a USC women's basketball game Friday night. A friend of the Wiz texted to say that "Garrett looks like someone punched him in the balls."
Garrett was later asked about possibly losing Carroll.
"I don't think SC falls down. We're too good. We do things well," he said. "We've had a great history, 11 national championships, we've produced a lot of excellent student-athletes and I don't think that will stop."
Carroll's image took a hit in 2009. In January, he publicly questioned quarterback Mark Sanchez's decision to leave early for NFL riches. When it came time to pick Sanchez's replacement, the curious choice was freshman Matt Barkley over Aaron Corp. Barkley passed for 15 touchdowns with 14 interceptions in 12 games.
As USC faded down the stretch, Carroll continued to stick with Barkley, even as the Trojans were worked over by Oregon (a 47-20 loss) and Stanford (a 55-21 dismantling).
The loss to the Cardinal represented the most points ever given up by a USC team. Stanford's Jim Harbaugh decided to go for two with his team leading, 48-21, with 6:47 to play. A miffed Carroll confronted Harbaugh at the postgame handshake, reportedly asking, "What's your deal? What's your deal?"
Two weeks later, Carroll was on the other side of a running-up-the-score controversy. Leading UCLA, 21-7, in the final minute, he decided to have Barkley try a long pass instead of take a knee after a Bruin timeout. Damian Williams scored and although UCLA counterpart Rick Neuheisel said, "They have every right to throw the ball deep," Bruin players felt otherwise, rushing to midfield as officials worked to keep the teams separate.
USC finished a disappointing 9-4, and Corp announced Thursday that he was transferring to Richmond. When asked about Corp's transfer, Carroll said, "I think it's a big statement about Matt Barkley."
Now Carroll appears ready to move on. He was 33-31 as coach of the New York Jets and New England Patriots before landing at USC, and the Seahawks offer an opportunity to redeem himself on the NFL level.
Thanks to Image of Sport.