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Carroll Says He'll Keep Fighting On

Coach says he hasn't been contacted by the 49ers and wouldn't be interested in jumping to the NFL.

January 07, 2005|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

Signs reading "NO DOUBT!" have been taped to the windows of USC's football offices and throughout Heritage Hall, a message sent by the Trojans when they routed Oklahoma in the bowl championship series title game.

It is also the message Coach Pete Carroll tried to deliver Thursday.

Carroll wants to end speculation that he will be enticed from USC to become coach of the San Francisco 49ers, who fired Dennis Erickson and General Manager Terry Donahue on Wednesday and targeted Carroll as their top choice to coach.

Carroll said that neither he nor his agent had been contacted by the 49ers and that he was not interested in the job.

"I'm not interested in any job," Carroll said during an interview on campus. "This one's the one I've got. I love this one. It's going good, I'm fired up and we've got a lot of stuff to do."

John York, owner of the 49ers, fired Erickson and Donahue three days after the team finished the season 2-14, matching the worst record in franchise history. At the news conference announcing the firings, York acknowledged Carroll and USC's performance in its 55-19 victory over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.

Sources said York would launch a full-scale offensive to land Carroll, who grew up in Marin County and served as the 49ers' defensive coordinator for two division-championship teams in the mid-1990s.

Romeo Crennel, defensive coordinator of the New England Patriots, is expected to interview with the 49ers on Saturday. But Carroll, who has guided the Trojans to two consecutive national titles and a 36-3 record in the last three seasons, is still regarded as the 49ers' top choice, according to sources.

Carroll, who coached the New York Jets for one season and the New England Patriots for three, turned down a chance to become the 49er coach two years ago.

"I don't know that there's a job description that's ever been defined that would interest me anymore in the NFL," he said Thursday. "The one I've got here is a real nice one. I like the job description here."

With most of his staff out of the office meeting with recruits, Carroll said he was spending the day "recruiting my butt off, calling guys all day long. ... We're going. We're cookin."

Carroll said recruits had not questioned him about the 49er speculation.

"It hasn't come up yet," he said. "Not that it won't. It certainly will."

When Carroll was hired by USC in December 2000, he signed a five-year contract that paid him about $1 million annually. He received a significant raise after the 2002 season, and Wednesday acknowledged that he had received a long-term contract extension.

Nick Saban recently left Louisiana State to become coach of the Miami Dolphins. Saban signed a contract that reportedly will pay him $4.6 million annually.

Carroll would almost certainly command at least that much from the 49ers or another NFL team.

"I'm not interested," he said.

Not interested in a NFL coaching salary approaching $5 million a year?

"Not interested," he repeated.

Carroll said he laughed as he drove to work Thursday and heard a radio talk show host speculating that he would return to the NFL to prove that he could win at the highest level.

Carroll was 33-31 in four NFL seasons with the Jets and Patriots.

"I couldn't care less about that," he said.

Carroll said he was already looking forward to the 2005 season, when USC is expected to contend for an unprecedented third consecutive national title.

"This is about as fun as you can get," he said. "These next six months are going to be a blast. You know the whole time will be fun. And then you start the next six months and try to do it all over again."

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