Monday, January 11, 2010

The Trojans lose their horse

On New Year's Day, you could've gotten pretty long odds on USC's football situation being more chaotic than Florida's, but that's exactly where they are now that Pete Carroll's departure to Seattle is official. While the UF staff racked up commitments from 3 "five star" guys Saturday, kids at the All-America game committed to USC were trying desperately to get ahold of anyone who could clue them in on what the heck was going on with Carroll. Some of them have reopened their recruitment altogether, which may even wind up helping UF more. Lots of people are making the assumption that Carroll must know the NCAA hammer is coming. Not sure I buy that, because neither Indiana basketball or FSU football got hit with tough penalties despite each being involved in clearcut and extensive skirting of NCAA rules. It does seem there's been a rift between Carroll and the school's AD, which is likely a part of what led to this. This paragraph from an excellent article about Carroll in Los Angeles Magazine two years ago...

"When (Carroll) feels that he’s losing the players, losing the fans, losing momentum, or just losing, he might leave. Regardless of the contract extension he signed in 2005, details of which he declines to discuss, he’s not likely to stay where he’s not wanted, or where his message is no longer working. “I never want to coach again when it’s not like this,” he says. “I won’t hang on for dear life. I love winning so much that I can’t imagine being here when it’s any other way.”"

sums it up pretty well, I suspect. With a chance to take one more shot at the NFL and make megabucks to do it, why stay at USC if you aren't enjoying it as much as you used to? Seattle's a great city, their owner will spend whatever's necessary, and you can have as much control as you want. If you're Carroll, what reason is there not to take it if you don't feel your boss is supporting you?

With Oregon State's Mike Riley having already made clear he won't be next at USC by agreeing to a contract extension, attention shifts to the other rumored names in AD Mike Garrett's top three. I don't think Jeff Fisher wants to leave the NFL right now, but Jack Del Rio might be a different story. There's a lot of buzz claiming Del Rio's in real trouble in Jacksonville, that Wayne Weaver has gotten sick of his whole act. He'd be falling upward into the USC job, and I suspect he will fail if he gets it. What's interesting for SEC fans is that Ed Orgeron supposedly wants to return to USC in some capacity. That'd be a significant blow to Lane Kiffin's supposedly incredible staff.

It's going to be fascinating to see what USF does about replacing Jim Leavitt. When a player finally went on the record last week about Leavitt hitting a player as had been previously alleged, it was clear his ship was taking on water fast. Now the player he struck and his family have acknowledged lying about the situation once it came to light to avoid being blamed for Leavitt's firing. The AD at USF hasn't got a history to work with in figuring out what direction he might take this. Having an inexperienced guy take over during an uncomfortable time may not seem appealing, which could work out well for Tommy Bowden, Terry Bowden, Jeff Jagodzinski or even Phil Fulmer.

Thank goodness the Packers and Cardinals redeemed what was the worst first week of NFL playoff football I can remember before their second half. If Kurt Warner can play like that, why's he thinking about retiring? Aaron Rodgers played a great game, but he'll be replaying that first throw in overtime in his head for a long time. Make an accurate pass and the game's over. The Cardinals and Saints should be a fun game next week. Other weekend NFL thoughts:

Marvin Lewis showed again he's incredibly bad at game management - you can not use your two challenges on frivolous stuff early in the game - and the Bengals never seriously threatened a Jets team that probably shouldn't have been in the playoffs in the first place. I know Carson Palmer's having surgery on his non throwing hand, but that doesn't explain what has made him so ineffective for most of this season. He looked more like a rookie than Mark Sanchez did.

The Cowboys proved yet again that people who say "it's hard to beat a team three times" have no idea what they're talking about - the team that won the first two has won the third 73 percent of the time since 98. The Eagles had been great in their playoff openers under Reid - hard to understand how they could look so inept in this one.

It was hard to know what to expect from New England, with them losing Wes Welker right before the postseason. Them losing to Baltimore didn't shock me, but I never would have imagined they'd just lie down. Belichick has been trying to rebuild that team without taking a step back, but that's proven not to be feasible. They've got a ton of draft picks, but until they can reliably run the ball again the Patriots will not be a championship contender.

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