Things have worked out just fine for Pete Carroll at USC.
Nearly 15 years ago, I settled into a window seat on an American Airlines flight from JFK to San Francisco, one of a seemingly endless chain of business trips from New York to Silicon Valley.
I opened up my Sunday New York Times (which always makes for great cross country reading) and started reading the sports pages, when a man sat down in the empty seat next to mine.
The guy looked familiar, though I couldn’t place him right away. Then it hit me. That’s Pete Carroll, Coach Carroll. formerly of the Jets.
After my “Hey Coach” introd we struck up a conversation, and talked on and off as AA Flight 15 made its way across the Alleghenies over the cornfields of Iowa and the Rockies and eventually into SFO.
As it turned out, we were born the same year, so we had a lot in common growing up, Carroll in Northern California and me in suburban New York. He asked me if I was a Jets or Giants fan. I told him the Giants were my team, but that like many New Yorkers I also followed the fortunes of the Jets, especially when they were having a good season.
We talked about Grateful Dead concerts we had attended, about Woodstock and some of the other great bands of the 60s and 70s.
A Year with The Jets
Carroll had just been fired by the Jets after just one season at the helm. The Jets got off to a 6–4 start under Carroll in 1994, but in week 12 they were victimized by Dan Marino’s clock play that led to a Dolphins game-winning touchdown.
They lost all of their remaining games to finish 6–10. Carroll was fired, replaced by Rich Kotite. How did that work out Jets fans?
I remember telling Carroll that I felt been giving a raw deal from the Jets, who never really gave him a chance.
He told me he was returning home to San Francisco to interview with the 49ers for a defensive coordinator position.
Well Carroll took that position in 1995 and two years later was named head coach of the New England Patriots. Taking over for Bill Parcells, he led the Pats to a 33-31 record and two playoff appearances in three years before being replaced by none other than Bill Belichick.
Success at USC
Carroll was named the head coach at Southern California in December of 2000, signing a five-year contract after USC had gone through a tumultuous 18-day search to replace fired coach Paul Hackett. He was not the Trojans’ first choice, and was considered a long shot as USC initially planned to hire a high-profile coach with recent college experience. Meanwhile Carroll, who had not coached in over a year and not coached in the college ranks since 1983, drew unfavorable comparisons to the outgoing Hackett.
To date, Pete Carroll. He is 93-16 as head coach with the Trojans, with back-to-back national championships in 2003 and 2004. His team won a school-record 34 straight games from 2003–2005, a streak that started after a triple-overtime loss to California and ended with the national championship game in the 2006 Rose Bowl, against the Texas Longhorns.
In a recent interview, Carroll told Esquire magazine: “Jerry Garcia said that he didn’t want his band to be the best ones doing something. He wanted them to be the only ones doing it. To be all by yourself out there doing something that nobody else can touch — that’s the thought that guides me, that guides this program.”
Yep, things are working out just fine for Pete Carroll at USC, thank you.
Do the math. The Boston Celtics have won 16 NBA titles, the Los Angeles (nee Minneapolis) Lakers 14. When the 62nd NBA Finals are completed in a few weeks, the Celtics and the Lakers will have combined for 31 titles, exactly half of the 62 championships. This is their 11th meeting in the finals, another NBA record.
What about the other sports?. Who are the champions of championships?
It starts with the New York Yankees, the king of champions. The Yankees have won 26 World Series, the most in any of the North American team sports. That’s more than double the number of championships won by the St. Louis Cardinals (10) and Philadelphia-Oakland A’s (9).
In the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers have each won five Super Bowls. The Green Packers have won nine total NFL titles and the Chicago Bears 7 since the first NFL championship game in 1933.
In hockey, the Montreal Canadiens, Les Habitants, are far away the ring-leaders with 23 Stanley Cups. The Habs are followed by the Toronto Arenas-St. Pats-Maple Leafs with 13 and the Detroit Red Wings with 11, including this year’s Stanley Cup.
UCLA has won 11 NCAA basketball championships and Kentucky seven since the advent of the NCAA tournament in 1939. Kentucky also won a national championship in 1933.
Notre Dame is the king of college football with 13 national championships, including nine since the polls were first instituted in 1936. In the so-called “early years” of college football (1869-1935), Yale won 18 championships and Princeton 17. All told, Alabama and USC have each won 10 total football championships, seven apiece since 1936.