NFL: Carroll already starting as coach for Seahawks
By GREGG BELL
AP Sports Writer
RENTON, Wash. — Saying he just walked into “almost dreamlike” control and opportunity, Pete Carroll smiled and rambled through his first day as coach and executive vice president of the Seattle Seahawks.
“I am so fired up to be here today. Right from the beginning, they undersold. This is a tremendous place to come to work,” Carroll said Tuesday. “It’s really almost dreamlike for me.”
Back in the NFL for the first time since New England fired him in 1999, the coach who restored the dynasty at Southern California from 2001 until Monday put on a dark blue suit and paisley tie patterned in Seahawks green and blue.
Carroll then proclaimed his wonder and excitement at having snared the exact opportunity he’s always wanted in the NFL — but never thought he’d get after the Patriots fired him. He said what he’s getting in Seattle mirrors the latitude USC gave him.
“They have embraced my approach ... in a manner in which to wipe the path clear and give me the clearest opportunity to bring everything that I have to offer. That’s really what I was looking for, the trust and belief from the top of the organization,” he said, a day after his public farewell from USC. “They don’t have an agenda of how they want their football played. They want me to do that. That’s exactly and precisely what I was looking for.”
Specifically and most immediately, Seahawks chief executive officer Tod Leiweke confirmed Carroll is getting authority on whom the Seahawks hire as their new general manager. Carroll and Leiweke were to conduct an afternoon interview with Omar Khan, a contract administrator with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“As guys get other jobs around the league, there isn’t always that level of trust and communication from the top down, and there isn’t always that willingness to let you do exactly what you feel and how you should do it. That’s what I’ve been given here — and I can’t tell you how excited I am about that,” Carroll said.
“That is what I had at ’SC, and is when I’ve had my best success.”
Carroll said the Seahawks’ defensive system is likely to stay intact, but that the anemic offense will change. He emphasized how the need for an improved running game will permeate “everything we do” on both sides of the ball.
One thing Carroll said won’t change on offense is the quarterback. Carroll said he is excited to have one with as much experience as 34-year-old Matt Hasselbeck. And he twice emphasized the three-time Pro Bowler is healthy after playing through a bad back, broken ribs and a sore passing shoulder as Seattle limped to a 9-23 record since its last playoff game in January 2008.
Seattle went 5-11 this past season, costing coach Jim Mora his job on Friday after less than 12 months. It’s the Seahawks’ worst two-year stretch since 1992-93.