Pete Carroll back in the NFL?
Does winning get old?
Colleagues: Carroll will try NFL again
By Scott Wolf
With a 17-game winning streak and victories in 28 of the past 29 games, it's difficult to see any problems in USC coach Pete Carroll's world.
The No. 1-ranked Trojans are winning with a frequency not seen since the glory years of the 1960s and '70s as they charge toward a possible trip to the Orange Bowl and a national championship.
"Winning is so much fun," Carroll said. "It's awesome to figure out how to keep it going. I think it's possible to keep it going."
Can winning become too easy? Can a coach bred in the NFL, where parity is the norm, be content winning week after week against the Washington States and Oregon States of the college world?
"I think he's going to get bored," said a close associate, who asked to not be identified. "It's not enough of a challenge for him."
Another friend -- Washington Redskins secondary coach Dwayne Walker, who spent a year with Carroll at USC -- said he wouldn't be surprised if Carroll returned to "the league," as those who work in the NFL call it.
"I know he enjoys what he's doing," Walker said. "He's doing and (has) done everything he set out to do at USC. Knowing Pete like I do, he would be one of the top coaches in the NFL. I still think there's a little bit left in him that wants to prove critics wrong, and try to come back and do in the NFL what he did in college."
Carroll disputes the idea that success breeds contempt, and he's too cagey to admit winning is too easy. But he doesn't argue that winning in the NFL is more difficult than in college football.
"The competition is more even in the NFL," he said. "I think it's an extraordinary accomplishment what the Patriots did, winning 21 straight games. Sometimes the NFL is harder."
USC assistant coach Todd McNair, who spent the past three seasons with the Cleveland Browns, is more emphatic about the contrast.
"(College football) is nowhere near as complex as the NFL," McNair said. "In the NFL, if a protection works one week, it won't work the next week."
For the ultracompetitive Carroll, it might reason that coaching at "the highest level" is vitally important, but he said college teams still impress him when he's watching game film -- most recently Boise State, which he observed while scouting Oregon State, this week's opponent.
"Boise State runs more formations than anyone I've seen," he said. "There's a whole wide range of offenses to face in college. In the NFL, they're sophisticated in a whole different manner. Everyone runs the same offense, but you've got more variants. They tweak more in the NFL."
Carroll carefully chose his words, making sure not to offend any parties at either level. McNair, again, cleared up the disparity between pro and college.
"In the NFL, you play teams, and they learn you twice as fast," he said.
Those who speculate Carroll eventually will return to the NFL believe the opportunity to partake in that kind of competition will sway the Trojans coach.
"The general thought in coaching is the NFL is the ticket," said USC assistant coach Lane Kiffin, whose father, Monte, is the defensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carroll's mentor.
Lane Kiffin said he had no idea if Carroll is bored, but said he hasn't grown weary of the Trojans' success.
"I'm not getting sick of winning," Kiffin said.
Kiffin thinks it would be impossible for Carroll to accomplish in the NFL what he's done at USC.
"Teams are equal in the NFL because it's built to be equal. College is not," Kiffin said. "If you lose in the NFL, you pick first in the draft. In college, if I win, I get the best players. The NFL is structured to get you back up.
"I've seen my dad work in the NFL for 20 years and win the Super Bowl and then go 7-9. Who was the last (college) national champ to go under .500 the next year?"
Carroll said the primary difference between the NFL and college football is that coaches spend less time with college players. In the NFL, players arrive in the morning and spend the day at a team's training complex. At USC, he's unlikely to see most players until they get out of classes and show up for team meetings at 2:15 p.m.
"It's six hours a day with the players in the NFL," he said. "There's four hours you don't have here."
The theory that Carroll could be getting bored at USC is bolstered by the fact he does not stay as late at the office as he did his first season. But McNair said the work pace is actually tougher at USC than with the Browns.
"The schedule here is go, go, go. There isn't any stopping," he said. "We've got more time to think in the NFL."
Carroll said he has put in more hours at USC than any other job he's held.
"I never worked so hard in my life," Carroll said. "With everything: the camps, recruiting ... just everything."
Kiffin said neither college football nor the NFL hold a monopoly on long hours. It depends on each coach, or who the coach works for.
"My dad goes in the office on Monday and comes home on Friday," he said. "He goes to bed at 2 a.m. and gets up when the cleaning lady comes in at 6 a.m. But my brother-in-law works at South Carolina, and he never leaves before midnight."
For now, Carroll said he is more than sufficiently challenged.
"Every game is an enormous adventure," he said. "This last game, it was the weather. There's always something that happens."
Re: Pete Carroll back in the NFL?
I hear Miami might be looking for a competitive coach. Possible next year?
Re: Pete Carroll back in the NFL?
Carroll would be out of his gord to return to the NFL. He is the BMOC for the best team in the country. USC would fall over themselves to pay him whatever he wants.