Saturday, January 9, 2010
Updated: January 11, 12:28 AM ET
Sources: Seattle, Carroll agree on deal
ESPN.com news services
Pete Carroll has reached an agreement in principle with the Seahawks on a deal to be their next head coach, multiple NFL sources confirmed to ESPN's Adam Schefter early Saturday morning.
A Seahawks spokesman confirmed Saturday night that team CEO Tod Leiweke will fly to Los Angeles on Sunday to interview Carroll for the coaching position and that the talks could last into Monday morning.
According to a Los Angeles Daily News report on Sunday, Carroll has turned in his resignation to USC.
A source close to USC linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. confirmed to ESPN's Shelley Smith that Carroll will be taking Norton to Seattle to fill the same role with the Seahawks.
Carroll was expected to be introduced by the Seahawks as early as Monday, after the team interviewed Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier on Saturday morning.
According to the sources, Frazier met with the Seahawks in Minneapolis, satisfying the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview a minority candidate for head coaching and senior football operations hires.
Leiweke told Frazier before the interview Carroll did not have Seattle's job. Frazier had been unwilling to talk with the Seahawks about the vacancy if Carroll had been promised full control of the Seahawks. Multiple sources indicated to ESPN he had been.
Even so, on Saturday, Carroll personally called John Wooten, chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance -- the organization designed to ensure that teams abide by the Rooney Rule -- to assure him that he had no deal with Seattle.
"He said, 'I wouldn't try to be disruptive to what you're trying to do, and I support what you're trying to do,'" Wooten said Saturday night. "He said, 'I feel comfortable at USC, and if the deal isn't what I want it to be, I'll just stay right here at Southern Cal. But I need to talk to Seattle to clear up any issues.' He said he never would get into any arrangement that would cause controversy or undermine the Fritz Pollard Alliance. As long as I've known Pete Carroll over the years, he's been honest. I take him at his word."
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, asked about the Seahawks' coaching search on the field before the Jets-Bengals playoff game Saturday in Cincinnati, told ESPN's Rachel Nichols he believed the Seahawks' interview with Frazier was in earnest.
Goodell said Seattle had fulfilled not only the letter but the spirit of the Rooney Rule, saying there was "no done deal" between Carroll and Seattle as of Saturday morning.
Wooten repeated Goodell's sentiments Sunday morning, endorsing the hire and saying the Seahawks have complied with the minority-interview requirements and that he would welcome Carroll back to the NFL.
On Friday, Jim Mora became the first Seahawks coach to be let go after one season, when the team finished 5-11.
Seattle also contacted the agent for Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, but as of Saturday morning, nothing had been set up. An interview with Rivera also would have satisfied the Rooney Rule.
But the bottom line is, Carroll's agreement with Seattle is "100 percent done," one NFL source close to the situation told Schefter.
On Saturday afternoon, The Associated Press reported a league official with direct knowledge of the coaching search had denied a deal was in place, saying the Seahawks and Carroll were only in "discussions."
In a text message to ESPN's Chris Mortensen on Friday, Carroll said, "You know I haven't responded to a NFL question in two years."
Carroll is no stranger to the NFL, having served as the head coach for the Patriots from 1997 to 1999 and for the Jets in 1994.
He was the Jets' defensive coordinator from 1990 to 1993 after stints as the defensive backs coach for the Vikings (1985-89) and Bills (1984).
Even before the deal had been agreed to in principle, the ripple effect from Carroll's pending move had reached his USC coaching staff and beyond, to the high school players who had assumed they would be playing next year for Carroll.
A source on the USC coaching staff told ESPN's Shelley Smith that before the news broke, they had a meeting set for Monday at 5 p.m. ET to prepare for the offseason.
Now it looks "like that meeting will be Pete's last," the source said.
The source said at least one assistant coach has been contacted by another team, but many others haven't been contacted because "their status is up in the air."
At the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio on Friday, USC's incoming freshman class began frantically calling USC's assistant coaches.
For the rest of the day, not a single USC assistant returned a phone call, according to sources at the game who spoke with ESPN's Schefter.
By Saturday afternoon, some calls had been returned.
But witnesses said players such as All-American receiver Kyle Prater and running back Dillon Baxter could not figure out what was unfolding with Carroll.
Baxter had verbally committed to USC as a high school freshman and never looked at another school. But now that Carroll is expected to leave USC, other schools already have begun contacting players scheduled to enroll there in the fall.
Prater said on NBC's broadcast Saturday of the All-American Bowl that he had spoken to Trojans passing game coordinator/receivers coach John Morton and he would discuss things further with his family and advisers before making a decision on enrolling at USC.
Prater said he was scheduled to fly to Los Angeles to sign with the team and enroll in classes starting Monday but would postpone the trip.
Norton recruited Lakewood High QB Jesse Scroggins, who has already committed to USC but is said to be waiting to see what happens with Carroll.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks' search for a new general manager also is under way.
Information from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, ESPN.com's John Clayton and The Associated Press was used in this report.