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Pete Carroll claims USC sanctions didn’t lead him to leave for Seattle

Pete Carroll

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll smiles in the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012. in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)


Pete Carroll says he wouldn’t be the coach of the Seahawks right now if he had known at the time he took the job that he was going to leave a mess behind at the University of Southern California.

Carroll says he would have stayed at USC and helped the football program rebuild if he had known that the NCAA was about to sanction the Trojans over rules violations related to Reggie Bush and his family. Carroll has been criticized by some for jumping ship to Seattle in January of 2010, just in time to avoid the sanctions the NCAA handed down five months later, but Carroll says he wouldn’t have accepted the job if he had known what the NCAA was about to do.

“The truth was, an opportunity came up and it was one I couldn’t turn away from,” Carroll told the Los Angeles Times. ". . . The NCAA came back at the university . . . ‘Now we’re going to revisit after five years.’ I had no knowledge that was coming. We thought maybe it wasn’t coming because they didn’t have anything to get us with. It wasn’t five days, it wasn’t five weeks. It was five years. Had we known that that was imminent . . . I would never have been able to leave under those circumstances. When I look back now, I would have stayed there to do what we needed to do to resolve the problem.”

Carroll still believes the NCAA made “a terrible error” by giving harsh sanctions to the USC football program.

“What I hope comes out of this is that this never happens to a university again,” he said. “I think it was extraordinarily overdone, an overreaction.”

USC has struggled to recover from those sanctions. Carroll, now a Super Bowl champion, is much better off in Seattle.