Doc 5: Best college football coaching backouts -- No. 2 Pete Carroll

Pete Carroll after his last win as USC coach. (Getty Images)


Pete Carroll after his last win as USC coach. (Getty Images)

This offseason we will count down various topics from Monday through Friday, bringing you the top five of the important and definitely some not so important issues in college football. It's the Doc Five, every week until we will thankfully have actual games to discuss.



Pete Carroll was never going to leave USC, right?

He had already had his chance in the NFL with the New York Jets and New England Patriots and he had restored USC to the top of the college football heap with a BCS Championship in 2005 and a Rose Bowl appearance in 2006. There was no other college job as desirable as his and a return to the NFL seemed unlikely.

Until the return happened.

Investigations surrounding USC running back Reggie Bush, the now unofficial 2005 Heisman winner, started in 2006. Bush was alleged to have received improper benefits, including the use of a house for his family in San Diego that was owned by the agent he signed with when he declared for the draft in 2006.

In September of that year, Yahoo Sports reported Bush, now a member of the New Orleans Saints, received cash and his family had stays at expensive hotels paid for.

Fast-forward to 2009. An investigation into the USC basketball team is combined with the Bush investigation. Then Carroll came under investigation for the hiring of Pete Rodriguez, whose employment would have broached the NCAA limits of coaching staffs.

Carroll still claims he knew nothing of the benefits that Bush received and said he "tried to do this exactly the right way" when it came to compliance and Rodriguez's hiring even as the Los Angeles Times reported he didn't clear the hire with USC's compliance office.

Amidst the controversy in 2009, Carroll's Trojans were 9-4, a down year by his then-lofty standards. The Seattle Seahawks were 5-11.

In January, 2010, Carroll was suddenly the coach of the Seahawks. With no penalties yet announced against the Trojans, it was an unexpected move, even to his players. Especially because it wasn't his first opportunity to jump back into the NFL.

Six months later, USC had a two-year bowl ban and a loss of 40 scholarships.

Carroll has long maintained his jump to the NFL wasn't a result of the impending sanctions. (Shortly after being hired by Seattle he and other members of USC's staff met with the NCAA.) However, there's a large segment of Trojan fans who will always wonder what could have been. If there were no punishments, would Carroll still be at USC? It's not a crazy thought.

The move has worked out well for him, as he's the third NFL coach to have a Super Bowl and a college football national title after winning the Super Bowl with the Seahawks in February.

It hasn't been as great for the Trojans. Lane Kiffin, a former Carroll assistant and Carroll's replacement, was fired in September after a 28-15 record in three-plus years. After interim coach Ed Orgeron took the Trojans to the Las Vegas Bowl, USC hired Washington coach Steve Sarkisian, another former Carroll assistant.

While Carroll may be four years removed from the school and the sanctions linger in the rear-view, the school still continues its ties to his 97 wins in an attempt to duplicate his success.

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Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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