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Pete Carroll Says He Would've Stayed at USC if He'd Known NCAA Sanctions Were Coming

pete carroll

Pete Carroll has perhaps been, all things considered, the best football coach of the past decade. The one cloud that still hangs over him is the way he left USC for Seattle in early 2010 right before the college program got slapped with sanctions over Reggie Bush. Addressing the assertion that he left because the school was about to be disciplined by the NCAA, Carroll told the LA Times that those allegations were inaccurate:

“The truth was, an opportunity came up and it was one I couldn’t turn away from,” he said. “… The NCAA came back at the university… ‘Now we’re going to revisit after five years.’ I had no knowledge that was coming. We thought maybe it wasn’t coming because they didn’t have anything to get us with. It wasn’t five days, it wasn’t five weeks. It was five years.

“Had we known that that was imminent … I would never have been able to leave under those circumstances. When I look back now, I would have stayed there to do what we needed to do to resolve the problem.”

Carroll is right that the ultimate sanctions — a two-year bowl ban, loss of scholarships, and four years of probation — were more severe than anyone could have ever seen coming (and objectively excessive, considering Bush’s sponsor was a prospective agent who was unaffiliated with the USC program). Nevertheless, there were some clues that the NCAA was planning on dropping the hammer down, and there was speculation at the time that it expedited Carroll’s exit. Via USA Today:

CBS’ [Charlie] Casserly suggested Carroll is motivated to move because “USC has asked the NCAA if they could self-impose restrictions and sanctions on their football program. And the NCAA said no. That may have hastened Carroll’s leaving USC for Seattle.

It’s clear that Carroll still feels guilt more than four years after all that went down, but the idea that he would have stayed at USC through its discipline is probably revisionist history.

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