I was surprised when I read the Seahawks had fired Jim Mora. His team didn't make the playoffs, lost its final four games, and only made a one win improvement this season but you had to figure that they would give him at least another season to make it right. The firing of the GM earlier in the season however made that an unlikely move. When you hire a new GM you usually let them pick their own head coach.
Not long after the announcement of the Mora's firing the word started leaking out that USC head coach Pete Carroll was the guy that Paul Allen wanted to lead the Seahawks. It wasn't just a rumor either. This story had some legs and by the time Steve Sarkisian was holding his 1:00 PM press conference with Jake Locker the message boards were speculating that Carroll would move to Seattle, Sark would take over at USC, and Mora would end up being the new Husky coach completing an intriguing cycle of musical chairs.
Sarkisian threw cold water on that theory immediately. He went out of his way to say that the University of Washington was his dream job and he intended to be in Seattle a long time.
"I love my job," Sarkisian said, then he repeated what he has said before, that he has long viewed Washington as one of the premier positions in college football and not a steppingstone.
"People don't understand it, but this is my dream job," he said
He also said that every year some team in the NFL makes a run at Pete Carroll so this wasn't anything new. He felt that Carroll would end up staying at USC because he loves working with young people. Carroll has referred to the NFL as the No Fun League in the past and it has been obvious he has enjoyed his tenure at USC.
As the afternoon turned into evening it became obvious that this dalliance with the NFL was different for Carroll this time. At age 58 he had decided this was the best time to jump back into a league where he had failed twice as head coach if he was ever going to do it.
With the Trojans facing probable sanctions this spring the timing was right. When the NFL's wealthiest owner makes you an offer that includes power over all personel decisions and a $7 million per year salary you realize that destiny has knocked on your door with an offer that is too good to refuse.
So who will be the next head coach at USC?
According the the LA papers the list includes Oregon State coach Mike Riley, a former offensive coordinator for the Trojans. NFL coaches Jeff Fisher and Jack Del Rio, each former USC players; former Oregon coach and current athletic director Mike Bellotti, and Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh.
The million dollar question is how interested are any of these guys going to be if they have to start their tenure off on probation with a bowl ban? USC just threw its basketball program under the bus with a pre-emptive strike under the guidance of the Pac 10 and the NCAA. Word on the street is they may be working on a similar deal to wash away the stench of the Reggie Bush scandal.
Even with probation looming the USC job is a lot more attractive than it was ten years ago. Carroll has stockpiled the nations best talent and whoever takes over is not going to have to spend anytime rebuilding. They also probably won't spend much time on probation either. Expect the Trojans in a worst case scenario to get a one year bowl ban and the retroactive punishment of giving up some money and history from the Reggie Bush years.
What is more interesting to me than who will be the next USC coach is how it will effect recruiting over the next couple of weeks. The Trojans have their biggest recruiting weekend of the year scheduled next week. Of particular interest to Washington fans are Josh Shirley and Hayes Pullard who are scheduled to visit USC next weekend. Both of these kids have been listed as USC's leans over the past couple of weeks so this just may give Washington the shot they need to land them.