Being an NFL coach is considered the pinnacle of one’s coaching career in the U.S. However, it’s a demanding job that comes with an enormous amount of stress, especially on game day. Head coaches are responsible for many things on and off the field. In addition to implementing game-play strategies, NFL coaches must motivate their team and staff, make split-second decisions during game time, and always deal with pressures brought upon by ownership and media outlets. The journey to becoming a head coach is a long one and entails a great deal of hard work and patience from candidates looking to acquire this high-profile role.
Currently, there are 32 head coach positions in the NFL. With limited spots open for the job, competition is at an all-time high. Pete Carroll, head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, is one of the lucky 32 who guides his team, staff, and fans through thrilling seasons. Carroll has had tremendous success in Seattle and even led the Hawks to back-to-back Super Bowls – emerging victorious against the Denver Broncos (43-8) in 2013.
With two NFC championships and a Super Bowl victory under his belt, it goes without saying Carroll has had a significant impact on the Seahawks and the “12th Man” (the fans) since joining the organization. As the Seahawks gear up for a potential playoff run, now is the perfect time to explore the storied journey of their beloved head coach.
Pete Carroll’s Career
Pete Carroll was born in 1951. After experiencing a childhood filled with sports (including football, basketball, and baseball), Carroll attended the University of the Pacific where he played as a free safety for two years (he played football at College of Marin before transferring). After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, he unsuccessfully tried out for the Honolulu Hawaiians of the World Football League due to his size.
After that, Carroll decided to give the real world a chance and picked up a job selling roofing material in the East Bay area. Realizing the roofing industry wasn’t for him, Carroll eventually came back to his alma mater, where he served as a graduate assistant and coached wide receivers and defensive backs.
In the years that followed, Carroll would go on to serve as an assistant and defensive coordinator for several universities, including Arkansas, Ohio State, and North Carolina State.
It wasn’t until 1984, though, that Carroll landed his first job in the NFL as a defensive back coach for the Buffalo Bills. He was then picked up as a defensive coach by the Minnesota Vikings the following season. However, the New York Jets were the first organization to give Carroll a shot as head coach in 1994 (after working with the team as a defensive coordinator for four seasons) – a position that would last only one season after the team finished 6-10. In 1997, he would become the 13th head coach of the New England Patriots and succeed Bill Parcells. Unfortunately, Carroll’s tenure with the Pats was short-lived after he was fired in 1999, achieving a 27-21 record and two playoff appearances.
After hitting a roadblock in the NFL, Carroll returned to college football and was hired as head coach of the University of Southern California in 2001.
Although he wasn’t the Trojans’ first choice, Carroll rejuvenated the program – leading the team to national prominence. During his nine-year tenure with the SoCal team, he achieved a career record of 97-19 in addition to winning seven out of the nine bowl games the Trojans competed in. Carroll also received the Pac-10 Coach of the Year award three times (2003, 2005, and 2006) at the helm of the Trojans. The success of the school’s football program fueled the athletic department’s revenue as well – growing from $38.6 million in 2000 to more than $76 million in 2008.
Under Carroll’s reign, USC’s notable highlights included:
- Career record of 97-19 (83.5-win percentage)
- Seven consecutive bowl appearances
- Three Heisman Trophy winners (Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, and Reggie Bush, who later forfeited the trophy)
- Two consecutive AP national championships
In January 2010, Pete Carroll announced his resignation as head coach of USC football. The sudden departure stemmed from the offer he received from the Seattle Seahawks to lead the team as their new head coach, which was accompanied by a hefty $33 million five-year contract.
The “Eighth Man”
On Jan. 11, 2010, Pete Carroll became the eighth head coach of the Seattle Seahawks franchise. With the recent retirement of Tom Coughlin – the former New York Giants head coach – Carroll is now the oldest living head coach in the NFL at age 65.
Carroll started things off on the right foot with the Seahawks after they defeated the defending Super Bowl champions – the New Orleans Saints – in the first round of the 2010 playoffs. During his third season with the Hawks (2012), Carroll would experience his first winning season alongside rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, going undefeated at CenturyLink Field. It wasn’t until the following season that Carroll would reach an impressive level of success in the NFL. The Carroll-led Seahawks finished with an exceptional 13-3 record in addition to downing the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII – bringing the Vince Lombardi Trophy back to Seattle for the first time since their inception into the league.
Carroll and his all-star line-up, consisting of players such as Russell Wilson, Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch, and Richard Sherman, once again ventured to the Super Bowl during the 2014 season but fell at the hands of the Patriots. For the fourth year in a row, the Seahawks appeared in the playoffs and later fell to the Carolina Panthers during the divisional round.
It seems Carroll isn’t going away soon. Paul Allen, the team owner, recently announced the Seahawks had reached an agreement with their famed coach and extended his contract through the 2019 season.
A Future in Seattle
It goes without saying that Pete Carroll is an elite motivator on and off the field. Between pumping the Hawks up on game day and showing his gratitude to fans in the stadium – Carroll has proven to be a real staple in the franchise.
— Pete Carroll (@PeteCarroll) December 5, 2016
With the regular season winding down, the Seattle Seahawks are gearing up to make yet another hopeful playoff run. Before you #12s head over to CenturyLink Field, be sure to support the #SeahawksNation by rockin’ the latest Hawks gear! Fanatics has got you covered for all your green, gray, and navy blue needs!