USC Hires Carroll

Pete Carroll, fired from his two NFL coaching jobs and out of college football for 17 years, was hired today to succeed Paul Hackett as coach at Southern California.

Carroll was to be introduced at an afternoon news conference.

Carroll wasn’t USC’s first choice, and his selection was expected to meet with disapproval from some boosters and alumni.

However, as other candidates went by the wayside, he moved to the top of the list by impressing the hierarchy at USC.

Plus, the need to have a coach in place grew greater every day, what with this being a prime time for recruiting.

Other Candidates Considered

Carroll hasn’t coached in college since 1983, when he was assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Pacific. He has no past ties to the Trojans, although his daughter, Jaime, is a freshman on USC’s women’s volleyball team.

Hackett was fired Nov. 27 — two days after the Trojans completed a 5-7 season — their first losing campaign since 1991 and only their third in 39 years.

A winner of eight national championships, USC went only 19-18 in Hackett’s three seasons. He was fired with two years left on his contract.

When Hackett was fired, athletic director Mike Garrett said he wanted a coach who was a proven winner at the collegiate level, and immediately took steps in that direction.

However, Oregon State coach Dennis Erickson and Oregon coach Mike Bellotti both signed contract extensions at their respective schools within a week of Hackett’s firing, taking themselves out of the running.

Since then, San Diego Chargers coach Mike Riley, an assistant at USC from 1993-96 and head coach at Oregon State in 1997-98, was believed to be the leading candidate.

However, the two sides were unable to complete a deal, and the Chargers didn’t make it easier by saying they wouldn’t allow Riley out of the final three years of his contract, at least before the end of the NFL season Dec. 24.

In addition, the Chargers have a 1-13 record and are 9-21 in Riley’s two years there.

Colorado State coach Sonny Lubick also was mentioned as a candidate in recent days. He told his players Thursday that he planned to stay at CSU, where he recently signed a two-year contract extension.

Carroll Had Mixed Success in NFL

Carroll has been out of coaching this year after being fired by the New England Patriots after the 1999 season. The Patriots were 27-21 in three years under Carroll, reaching the playoffs twice.

Carroll also was coach of the New York Jets in 1994, but was fired after a 6-10 season. He was an assistant for the Jets 10 years ago, when USC associate athletic director Daryl Gross was a scout for the team.

Carroll also served as an assistant at Arkansas, Iowa State, Ohio State and North Carolina State before joining the Buffalo Bills as an assistant in 1984.

He spent one year with the Bills, five with the Miami Dolphins and five with the Jets — the final one as head coach.

Carroll was an assistant for the San Francisco 49ers for two years before taking the Patriots’ job in 1997.

USC has played in 28 Rose Bowl games, winning 20, but has appeared in only one since beating Michigan 17-10 Jan. 1, 1990. The Trojans haven’t won a national championship since 1978.