Is Pete Carroll on his way to Seattle?

When news of the Seattle Seahawks firing Jim Mora broke early Friday afternoon it was met with a collective "huh?" from most circles. Yes, the Seahawks were awful in Mora's first season at the helm, but they had some excuses: parting ways with their general manager mid-season, a slew of coaching changes, injuries to both lines, a quarterback who didn't come back from injury as well as expected. Surely the local guy who was the hand-picked successor to Mike Holmgren would get a chance to turn it around in year two before his seat got hot.

But now with Chris Mortensen's report that the Seahawks are targeting USC's Pete Carroll and that a deal is "expected to happen," it all makes a little more sense. Firing Mora wasn't change for the sake of change. It was change for the sake of getting college football's biggest coaching star. (Before we go any further, it should be noted that Mortensen has been known to get things wrong from time-to-time, so consider us proceeding with caution.)

The Carroll-to-the-NFL rumors are an annual January rite. For the past five years it seems like the former Jets and Patriots coach's name has been whispered near every major coaching vacancy. He rarely spoke publicly about the rumors, but was reported to have listened whenever an owner made an inquiry. It was never a question about if Carroll would ever leave USC, but when.

College coaches such as Steve Spurrier, Bobby Petrino and Nick Saban haven't had much recent success in making the transition to the pros, but those comparisons aren't apt, since Carroll won't be an NFL newbie. He coached the Jets in 1994 and the Patriots from 1997-99, going to the playoffs twice and compiling a 33-31 overall record.

His easy going attitude seemed to be a better fit in college, particularly in laid back Southern California. Carroll and the Trojans own Los Angeles football, particularly since the NFL has stayed out of the city for the past 15 years. But the NFL itch has evidently always been there. This time, it looks like Carroll might finally scratch.