INDIANAPOLIS -- Give Pete Carroll credit for the quote of the day Friday from the NFL scouting combine.
A reporter from New York noted that players pointed to Carroll and the Jets' Rex Ryan as the coaches they most enjoyed playing under. But with Ryan taking some heat for his colorful ways following a disappointing season, the reporter asked Carroll whether the former USC coach ever needed to "tamp down" the fun.
"Well, the NCAA thought we had to," Carroll replied, drawing immediate laughter from assembled reporters. "They didn't quite understand how you could have this much fun playing football. I'm serious about that. They could not figure it out and thought something must be wrong."
The NCAA imposed sanctions against USC for violations it alleged took place during Carroll's run as coach there. Carroll has hotly contested the charges. He has also bucked convention when it comes to coaching. His training camps stand out for the hip-hop and other contemporary music that plays over speakers during practices, to cite one obvious example.
"It's not very typical," Carroll said of the newer-school approaches. "Typical is Coach Lombardi. That is probably typical, and an authoritarian way of doing things is really the classic way to coach. I think times are shifting. The kids we coach aren't the same as they were years ago. We have to reach to them to find how we can motivate them and keep them engaged in any way possible."
As for Ryan?
"I think the way Rex goes about it, he's bold, but he has backed it up to a great extent," Carroll said. "He looks like he is having the time of his life doing it, and he makes it fun for his players. We play this game because we love it and love being around it. He demonstrates that to his players, and it carries over.
"I'd like to think that our guys can feel that, too," Carroll said. "I don't see us anywhere near the same, but he really loves it, and makes it fun for the people around him."