An Open Letter to Pete Carroll

Dear Pete,

First, I’m shocked you took the time to read this, what with your new NFL career in full swing. I just thought I’d take the time to address that little mess you left behind at Southern California. We all know that you’re aware of the sanctions imposed on the rather legendary program by the NCAA, because you made us aware with this super-heartfelt video, in which you admit to no wrongdoing whatsoever. Sure, the wrongdoing was committed by your most high profile player, a guy you recruited yourself, but for some reason no one really called you out on this whole thing until it was far too late for all parties involved.

I’m writing now because the player in question, Reggie Bush, has taken some serious heat for his involvement in a bit of underhanded dealing with an agent, which some consider unbecoming of a college athlete. To attempt to compensate, Reggie Bush recently returned his Heisman. You are apparently aware of this, too, since you released the following statement:

“It is my hope that this situation serves as a teachable moment to all involved, especially for the young athletes and university and high school administrators of tomorrow.”

I hope you’ll forgive the cynicism that is about to be displayed by me and most of the rest of the sportswriting community, but that sounds like a load of hogwash. Pete, we are talking about one of the most dynamic running backs in the last decade of college football. You really expect us to believe that you knew nothing about the whole business, and were merely a bystander as the highest profile player on your team received underhanded deals? Coach, that’s just about totally unbelievable, and your behavior doesn’t match up overly well with the details of the case. When you were riding high on national championships and major bowl wins you were totally uninterested in the concept of leaving LA. Yet after one of the worst seasons in your tenure at Southern Cal, you choose to leave? And shortly afterward the NCAA sweeps in with debilitating sanctions that very realistically could cripple Southern California for the forseeable future.

Anger against you is growing, Coach Carroll, and not without reason. The school is being buried under an avalanche of sanctions that should begin to have their effect in the coming months and years once Southern California begins its conference schedule. The school has also purged itself of any reference to Reggie Bush, taking down banners, posters and jerseys and returning Bush’s Heisman. Bush was forced to return the most important individual accolade a college player can earn, and if he’s really sorry he’ll soon admit wrongdoing. And you? Nothing. You’re getting paid, you’re coaching at the professional level, and you’re not being stripped of anything. There is a massive target on your back, Coach, and it’s only going to get bigger as the other actors in this little tragedy are made to pay their penance.

The heck of it is, Pete, you seem to be a halfway decent guy! There was the whole business with the young boy losing his sight and asking to see a Southern Cal game as the final thing he’d see (link!). Your Camp Pete website is cartoonish and it hurts my eyes, but it’s for a dang good cause! On top of all that, you helped create an anti-gang violence charity in Los Angeles! Pete, is admitting you did wrong such a bad thing? Coaches and coordinators are the only ones getting paid to be there. Supposedly. There are practically no programs in college football that haven’t committed a violation of ethics, recruiting, or both in recent years. So admit that you knew something. Admit that you were wrong, at least a little. American sports fans are a notoriously forgiving lot, and the players at your current level are getting paid anyway.

Pete, allow me to say this in closing: I despised your teams when you were coaching. Every single Saturday I cheered against you and the Trojans. With that said, you were good for the game. People wanted to watch a Southern Cal game during the Carroll Era, either to cheer you on or to boo you mercilessly. You’re an excellent coach, paid players or no. You revived a program back into a proud dynasty, and because the actions taken by people under your command during your tenure could well bring it back down, you should admit wrongdoing, if only to preserve your personal integrity and whatever’s left of the integrity of USC football.



(PS to the readers: If anyone knows Coach Carroll, pass this along. Without this part, obviously.)