Pete Carroll isn’t just in the championship business. As one Walter Hartwell White might phrase it, Pete Carroll is in the empire business.
After perhaps the most dominant Super Bowl performance in history, a feat he accomplished with one of the youngest and most salary-cap friendly teams in the league, Carroll sits at the helm of a budding dynasty.
This isn’t new territory either. Carroll won back-to-back championships with the University of Southern California in 2003 and 2004, won six BCS bowl games in nine years and finished in the top four of the Associated Press Poll in seven consecutive seasons. Before the reign of the SEC in college football, Carroll’s Trojans were the dominant program in the entire nation.
But the word on Carroll in previous years was that he was a college coach, and a college coach only. Before he went to Southern California, Carroll had unsuccessful tenures with the New York Jets and New England Patriots. A late season slide resulted in a 6-10 record with the Jets in 1994, leading to his firing after one season.
Because of his success as a defensive backs coach and a defensive coordinator, he was given the chance to follow Bill Parcells in New England. The Patriots made the playoffs in Carroll’s first two seasons, but Carroll was again fired after a late season slide in 1999.
Carroll had gained a reputation as a lame duck NFL head coach, but created a new legacy as an all-world recruiter and young spirit with his time at USC. He is the epitome of a player’s coach, and it translated to success in the NFL with this young Seahawks team. It’s not every day where a 62-year-old head coach connects with his players as equals, participating in full-contact drills one day and leading meditative yoga sessions the next.
Carroll encourages his players to be themselves, on-and-off the field, which is part of the reason the attitude and sometimes overzealous confidence of the Legion of Boom is tolerated by fans in Seattle. Also, a Super Bowl ring helps.
After becoming only the third coach in history to win a Super Bowl and a National Championship, Pete Carroll has established himself as one of the all-time greats, not just in college football. He is far and away the best football coach in the western United States (all due respect to Jim Harbaugh, but Pete has the hardware), and deserves to be included with names like Bill Belichick and Nick Saban in the conversation of best coach in America.
There is also the strong possibility that we might be witnessing the next NFL dynasty evolving before our very eyes. Seattle has a 25-year-old franchise quarterback who has had more winning success in his first two years than any player in history, lethal weapons on offense in Marshawn Lynch and Percy Harvin, the best secondary in the last 20 years with all three of their all-world players returning, salary cap flexibility once they get rid of some overpriced inessential players and the best home-field advantage outside of Kansas City.
A winning culture has been restored in Seattle, and Pete Carroll is leading the way. He was voted most popular coach in the league by players, and with his emphasis on relentless competition, no matter the situation, the loaded NFC can count on the road to the Super Bowl going through the 12th man.
One would think Carroll has earned some rest and relaxation after such an epic journey. He’s having none of that though. The Seahawks victory parade is scheduled for Wednesday. Meetings to begin the 2014 season occurred yesterday. A champion’s work is never done. Always compete.
A version of this article appeared on page 9 of Feb. 5th’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Art by Mingchen Shen of the Daily Nexus.