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NFL teams coming after Carroll again

Atlanta and Washington are said to be interested in USC coach. He has resisted such overtures in past.

January 10, 2008|Sam Farmer and Gary Klein | Times Staff Writers

It's that season again.

There are NFL teams looking for head coaches, and Pete Carroll's name has bubbled to the surface.

According to several reports, the USC coach is a candidate to succeed Bobby Petrino in Atlanta and the just-retired Joe Gibbs in Washington.

Carroll, reached on vacation in Hawaii, said "I'm not talking. I'm not responding to anything." His agent, Gary Uberstine, did not return a phone call seeking comment. However, USC spokesman Tim Tesselone circulated the following statement:

"As Pete told our beat reporters last Wednesday [Jan. 3], he understands that his name is going to come up for NFL jobs, as it has in each of his past years here, but that he was not going to comment about NFL openings because it would just lead to speculation.

" 'There's nothing going on, no reason to even talk about it,' Carroll said.

"Pete is out of the office on vacation this week, but he reiterated that to me this morning on the phone."

Carroll consistently has insisted over the years that he is happy at USC and that money is not an issue. Carroll earned about $3 million in 2004 when the Trojans won the Bowl Championship Series title.

It's widely believed that if Carroll were to return to pro football, where he previously was a head coach for four seasons, he would insist on control over personnel matters. It's unclear whether that would be the case in either the Washington or Atlanta scenarios.

In terms of NFL jobs, neither is especially appealing. Both franchises have owners that are at best involved, at worst meddlesome. The Redskins are better off, personnel-wise, but have more than their share of roster holes.

And neither franchise is near the Pacific -- an issue insiders say matters deeply to Carroll, who enjoys his Southern California lifestyle.

Carroll has compiled a 76-14 record in seven seasons at USC, 70-8 in the last six. He has guided the Trojans to two national championships, six consecutive Pacific 10 Conference titles and six straight Bowl Championship Series bowl games.

He also enjoys complete control over all parts of the football program, a situation that would be considered an aberration in the NFL.

But Carroll, who coached the New York Jets in 1994 and the New England Patriots from 1997 to 1999, has not shied from listening to NFL overtures.

Last year at this time, his name was mentioned in the Arizona Cardinals' search for a head coach. And while on vacation in Costa Rica a year ago, he met with Miami Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga regarding that team's opening.

On his return from Costa Rica, Carroll said he met with Huizenga because "he's like the only guy I know who's in the NFL that actually hires guys to do everything. That's why I thought it was worthwhile talking and hearing him out."

Carroll later added: "I've said the exact same thing for six years: That I can't imagine there's a situation that could present itself that would have the kind of format and the kind of freedom that would even get me a chance to listen. [Huizenga] does have that so I listened."

Carroll was recruiting in Atlanta in December when Petrino left the Falcons to become coach at Arkansas. On his return to campus, Carroll said he was not interested in returning to the NFL.

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sam.farmer@latimes.com

gary.klein@latimes.com

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