Pete Carroll is in his seventh season as an NFL head coach (52-53-.495) and third with the Seattle Seahawks. The always enthusiastic 61 year old silver-haired Carroll made his NFL head coaching debut with the New York Jets in 1994, when he guided the team to a 6-10 record. In all fairness, Carroll did not have much of a team to work with in New York, as Boomer Esiason was in the latter stages of his career. Being done in by a Dan Marino fake spike in Week 13, Carroll would be terminated by the Jets after his first season as head coach.
Sunday’s game between the New York Jets and the Seattle Seahawks is a reunion between Carroll and his old team. Although the Jets have changed ownership, coaches, players and even stadiums since 1994, the results have pretty much remained the same. With the Jets organization undergoing so many changes in personnel, it is hard to believe that Carroll still holds a grudge against his former employer after all these years. But hey, this is football, where past grudges can easily become a permanent part of the landscape.
Another awkward reunion for Carroll in this game is with his ex-college quarterback at USC, Mark Sanchez of the Jets. Carroll, who had coached Sanchez at USC, did not hide his displeasure at Sanchez’ decision to abandon the Trojans one year early for the lure of striking NFL gold. And thanks to Jets General Manager Mike Tannenbaum, Sanchez struck it rich.
During Sanchez’ press conference, where he would announce his pro intentions, Carroll spent five minutes outlining the reasons why Sanchez should stay at USC for another year. Carroll was quoted at the time as saying, “Our view of it is, and as you guys will see as you dig into this a little bit more, you’ll see that these early entry quarterbacks are less than 50-50 successful.” Looking back at Sanchez’ stagnating professional development, Carroll may have been on to something.
Again, without being a mindreader, it is difficult to decipher if there is any lingering animosity between Carroll and Sanchez. In a game which can become intensely personal at times, past incidents between coaches and players are not easily brushed aside.
In an ironic twist, an NCAA report was released early in 2010 which cited serious violations at USC under Carroll. Showing impeccable timing just before the release of the report, Carroll had followed Sanchez’ lead and bolted USC for the pro ranks, dodging an explosive situation at Southern Cal. Now, if only Sanchez can display such perfect timing with his passes, he would make his ex-college coach eat his words about leaving USC early.
In March of this year, Carroll went on record about the Jets Tim Tebow situation stating, “It’s going to be fascinating to see how Rex does it. If anybody can figure this out, Rex can figure it out.” After eight games, the only thing Rex has figured out about Tebow is that he is not a very good blocker for Jets punter Robert Malone.
If nothing else, the Carroll/Jets/Sanchez reunion should set the stage for some high noon drama at CenturyLink Field on Sunday. Although they all hope for a happy reunion, the history between the three tells us that once again someone is sure to leave feeling very disappointed.