On Pete Carroll and how to be a great coach without being a jerk

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Not many football coaches are able to dominate both college and the NFL. Jimmy Johnson was able to do so, but also ran so hot that it burned his relationship with Jerry Jones and he eventually burned out of coaching entirely after a few seasons with the Miami Dolphins. Pete Carroll has spent much of the last 20 years atop whichever level of football he was coaching.

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That has come to an end.

The Seattle Seahawks announced on Wednesday that Carroll will no longer be their head coach. Per a statement from franchise owner Jody Allen, the decision for him to longer hold that position was mutual and amicable. He will remain with the franchise in an advisory role.

The Seahawks finished the 2023 season with a 9-8 record. They have only one season with a losing record since 2012. By the time Russell Wilson was traded in the spring of 2022, the Legion of Boom era had long been done. Yet Carroll has still been able to work with young talent in Seattle to keep the team competitive and the 12s roaring in the stadium.

At 72, he has decided to hang up the headset and Air Monarchs. He will leave football with one full national championship in 2004 — the NCAA can vacate the title in its record books, but that can’t take the ring — and a partial one in 2003. The Seahawks won the Super Bowl during the 2013 season by shaking the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning’s 55 touchdown single-season record like a snow globe in a 43-8 victory.

Decades of championship-level football, and Carroll always did it with style. He allowed the USC players to embrace being Hollywood stars. They mingled with the top entertainers of the time and lost only nine games from 2002-2008. Forget a movie premiere, the LA Coliseum was the place to be during those years.

The Seahawks had never moved the needle prior to his arrival. Their 2005 team was 13-3 and played in one of the most forgettable Super Bowls of all time in a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. As the NFL was transitioning to more of a pass-first league, the Seahawks won primarily with defense and a power running game. That team rose to national prominence with those players as the mouthpieces. Russell Wilson wasn’t plunking kids with footballs on Saturday Night Live. Richard Sherman was lighting up Skip Bayless on First Take, and Marshawn Lynch was Skittles’ featured spokesperson.

While Carroll comes from the old school — his early years as an NFL assistant he worked for the Bud Grant influenced Minnesota Vikings — that was never his style. He is not the stereotypical gritty disciplinarian type of coach like many his age. He is the fist-pumping, high-fiving guy who also allows the team to take on the personality of the players. The Trojans were very different from the Seahawks, but they both won.

Carroll has his flaws. Former Seahawks claim that he treated Wilson with kid gloves early in his career. Also, the time that Carroll invited Jordan Peterson to speak to the team was both weird and offensive.

He always gone about coaching his own way, whether he received praise for it or criticism, and he got plenty of both. Carroll is one of only three football coaches to win a Div. 1-A/FBS championship and a Super Bowl. One day he will be inducted into both the College and Pro Football Hall of Fame because while he is not a typical football coach, he most certainly was one of the best.

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