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Pete Carroll ( - )  Category ( Athletes ) [suggest a correction]

Pete CarrollIn 2000, Pete Carroll went back to college. It turned out to be the best move of his professional life.

As a coach in the National Football League, Carroll was 33-31 -- not bad, but not enough to keep him from being fired twice, by the New York Jets and New England Patriots. So in 2001, he decided to leave his job as cornerbacks coach with the Seattle Seahawks and accept the head coaching job at the University of Southern California.

Success didn't come immediately there, as his first Trojan team started out 2-5. This wasn't surprising, since USC was the only Pacfic 10 Conference team not to have been ranked in the Associated Press Top 10 for the previous decade. But the Trojans rallied under Carroll that year, finished 6-6 and went to the Las Vegas Bowl.

Carroll had wanted the Trojans a lot more than they wanted him. Athletic director Mike Garrett (a former legendary tailback in USC's receding glory days) tried to hold out for a high-profile college coach. But Carroll, whose daughter Jaime played volleyball at USC, won Garrett over by sheer force of enthusiasm.

It turned out to be a perfect fit. By the following season, Carroll had turned things around. His 2002 team went 11-2. His subsequent squads produced records of 12-1, 13-0 (and a national championship), 12-1, 11-2, 11-2, and 12-1.

Of course, USC was a success story waiting to happen. Who wouldn't want to play college football before 90,000 spectators, a few miles from Hollywood, in a place where it never snows and rarely rains?

When he arrived on campus, Carroll was only 49 years old -- and a young 49, at that. A former college tight end at Pacific, he jumped into scrimmages with his players. During games, he became known for taking chances on offense and being aggressive on defense. In a profession known for its paranoia, he opened most of his practices to the public, reasoning that it would raise his players' practice performance to a higher level knowing they were being watched.

Carroll's zeal was also invaluable in recruiting. Within a year of his arrival, USC had risen to the top of the wish list for high school players in talent-rich Southern California. There were enouigh athletes within 50 miles of Memorial Coliseum to stock most of his roster, and Carroll then signed a few highly rated out-of-state athletes to fill gaps.

Carroll also became involved in the community, starting up "A Better LA," dedicated to fighting gang violence in Los Angeles; "Swim With Mike" (an annual Swim-A-Thon), and
"" (a motivational online game).

Born in San Francisco on Sept. 15, 1951, Carroll was raised in suburban Marin County. He was a three-sport star at Redwood High School and an all-conference defensive back at the University of the Pacific after spending his first two undergraduate years at the nearby College of Marin. A shoulder injury kept him from playing professionally.

He began coaching as a graduate assistant under Chester Caddas at his alma mater, then moved to the University of Arkansas under Lou Holtz in 1976. After stops at Iowa State, Ohio State and North Carolina State, he returned to Pacific as defensive coordinator. From there, he jumped to the NFL as a Buffalo Bills' assistant, and was impressive enough at that and a subsequent job with ther Minnesota Vikings to be hired as head coach by the New York Jets in 1994. That ended badly, but not so much that he wasn't hired by New England three years later, winning an AFC East title the first year.

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