Reporting from Seattle — Scott Cushing, a civil attorney in the Thurston County prosecutor's office, was driving back from a doctor's appointment when news first hit the radio that Pete Carroll had been hired to coach the Seattle Seahawks.
It was raining as usual -- the windows were up. Nobody could hear him as he screamed "Noooo!" at the steering wheel.
"I almost careened off the road," said Cushing, who writes a sports blog for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "It was just disbelief, and anger. I couldn't fathom what they were thinking, putting this guy in charge."
Stephanie Barker, a grandmother from Everett, north of Seattle, wasn't any more enthusiastic. "I already can tell: I'm not going to like him," she declared. "He didn't do well with the New England Patriots. He didn't do well with the Jets. Is he going to just come in and mess up the Seahawks too?"
Ah. There's the rub. Seattle would probably be a lot more miffed about the idea of a college football coach with what many see as distant and dubious NFL credentials coming in and "messing up" the home team if "messing up" could conceivably be applied in these dark days to the Seahawks. By Dec. 27's 38-point loss to Green Bay, even the Seattle Times was sniffing that "dead horses everywhere" must be feeling "a tinge of sympathy" for Seattle.
So, many here are ready to put aside their skepticism, their wounded loyalties to fired coach Jim Mora, their old Pacific 10 Conference heebie-jeebies about USC, and give Carroll the benefit of the doubt.
"If he can get the job done, then I'm all for it," said Ed Elder, a beer malt roaster and lifelong Seahawks fan from Vancouver, Wash.
"People are saying, OK, maybe this one is it. We've got two first-round draft picks, maybe we can turn this thing around."
Since Carroll's name first surfaced Friday, sports pages and radio talk shows in the Northwest have been full of little else, with the nine-year USC veteran's coaching style, record, motivations and prospects endlessly debated.
Is he fleeing L.A. merely to avoid NCAA investigators, and if so, why would Seattle want to give him a haven? How can a coach known for his personality, whose strength is in recruiting, developing and motivating young players, have the spiritual brawn to power a bunch of older professionals? He got fired from two NFL teams already -- was nine years of stellar college ball enough to redeem that? And if so, how is he going to pull together the dysfunctional organization that many here believe doomed Mora to failure in the first place?
"Pete Carroll? Really? . . . Isn't he a college coach? A rah-rah guy?" Seattle Times columnist Steve Kelley wrote. "Who's running this team? Barnum? Or Bailey?"
Yet others are giving Carroll credit for striking a deal that should give him the power he needs to turn things around.
"If he truly is a great talent evaluator . . . if players buy into what he's selling . . . if he puts them in a position to be successful individually and as a byproduct, successful as a team, then yes -- then everyone will love him, and all of his 'weakness' will be forgotten or turned into 'strengths.' That's the way it works," Cushing said.
Kevin Calabro devoted most of his show on ESPN 710 Seattle to the Seahawks. "People are cautiously optimistic about this, I think," he said in an interview.
Give Carroll a chance, urges former Seahawks quarterback Brock Huard, also now an ESPN radio host in Seattle.
"At the end of the day, this hire is a good hire," he told listeners. "I don't think you have the kind of success you had at USC without having some very strong skills."