Team preview: USC

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(All information as of June 20, 2008)


It has become a rite of passage. As the calendar dives into the New Year and NFL franchises dispose of their head coaches, the rumor mill starts, and sure enough USC head coach Pete Carroll's name is thrown into the mix of every high-profile job. The courting process never lasts long, though. Carroll always saying he's willing to listen, only to withdraw his name from consideration after a phone call or two.

Word is that he wouldn't even consider returning to the NFL without full control of an organization, but he's never verified that, so rumors being rumors, who knows? The spectrum is two-fold, as it's easy to consider each mindset:

• As competitive as they come, Carroll -- who turns 57 years old in September -- wants to prove he wasn't given a fair shake in head-coaching stops with the New York Jets and the New England Patriots. His career NFL head coaching record stands at 33-31, and of course, the allure of joining Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer as coaches that have won Super Bowls and NCAA championships has to be enticing. And then there's always the money, not that Carroll is hurting at USC.

• The other theory is no less compelling. Why leave the best college coaching job in the land? He more or less has a lifetime contract at USC. And no one can debate that Carroll -- whose .844 career winning percentage is tops among active coaches with only Urban Meyer and Bob Stoops having also won 80 percent of their games -- is better suited for the college game with his rah-rah attitude and his laid-back, ideal-for-the-West Coast personality. He never gelled with the Northeast media of Boston and New York City.