Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Pete Carroll is a winner. He has done it at the college level and now at the professional level.
So it comes as little surprise that USC recently announced Carroll will be inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame in 2015, joining the 11th class in school history.
While the success he had with the Trojans from 2001-09 in undeniable, his exit from the school according to some has been described as a little shady.
Still, the numbers speak for themselves. Carroll went 97-19 at USC, won a school-record 34 straight games as well as seven straight Pac-10 titles, captured two national championships (2003 and 2004 seasons), went 6-1 in BCS bowl games and coached three Heisman Trophy winners in a four-year span (Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush).
It's amazing how infectious a winning atmosphere can be.
USC football reached elite status once again under Carroll, as he put butts in the seats at the Coliseum. The team's average attendance rose from just under 58,000 in his first season in 2001 to an impressive 91,000 just five years later. In turn, the athletic department as a whole flourished during that time, with revenues doubling behind Carroll.
However, the specter of impropriety reared its ugly head following the Reggie Bush years, as the star tailback was found to have received improper benefits. After a drawn-out NCAA investigation. USC was handed a harsh punishment as it was forced to vacate its final two wins of the 2004 season (including the national title win over Oklahoma) and all the wins during the 2005 campaign, was banned from bowl participation in 2010 and 2011, and lost 30 scholarships (over three years). Bush also was forced to give back the Heisman Trophy.
Of course, when the verdict was handed down after a lengthy investigation, Carroll was already in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks. He has since gone on to take the Seahawks to new heights, capturing the Super Bowl this past season and in turn becoming just the third coach to win both a college national championship and the Super Bowl (with Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer).
While his NFL stints in New York (Jets) and New England (Patriots) left something to be desired, he has since silenced any critics with the juggernaut that now resides in Seattle.
A good portion of the college football world still believes the NCAA sanctions levied on USC were exorbitant, and they probably were. The NCAA made an example of USC. Bush's extra benefits in no way were performance-enhancing. What was accomplished on the field by the Trojans during Carroll's tenure was earned.
Carroll's exit before things got rough is a point of contention for those who viewed his departure as a way to elude justice. While there may be some merit to that, Carroll continues to stand his ground on his departure, as reported by the Los Angeles Times a month ago.
"The truth was, an opportunity came up and it was one I couldn't turn away from," he said. "The NCAA came back at the university ... 'Now we're going to revisit after five years.' I had no knowledge that was coming. We thought maybe it wasn't coming because they didn't have anything to get us with. It wasn't five days, it wasn't five weeks. It was five years."
"Had we known that that was imminent ... I would never have been able to leave under those circumstances. When I look back now, I would have stayed there to do what we needed to do to resolve the problem."
Carroll will be announced with the rest of the 2015 class at halftime of USC's game with Oregon State on Sept. 27. He will be joined by Jack Del Rio (football/baseball), Mark Prior (baseball), Harold Miner (basketball), Tim Rossovich (football), Jennifer Rosales (golf), Isabelle Harvey (soccer), Jimmy Jones (football), Dave Levy (football coach), Aniko Pelle (water polo), Kristine Quance-Julian (swimming), Don Quarrie (track and field), Bob Yoder (volleyball player/coach), John Hamilton (contributor) and Joe Jares (media).
While the majority of the crowd is sure to be pro-Carroll and give him a warm welcome, there will likely be a smattering of boos from those who still hold a grudge on how his tenure ended.