Two coaches with different stories, the paths of Pete Carroll and Lane Kiffin will cross once more. Both coaches were responsible for the rise, glory, and fall of USC football over the past decade.
The former-Trojan leader is fourteen games through his first season with the Seahawks. At 6-8, his team is currently leading the woeful NFC west division. While Carroll displays an enthusiasm and creative-style not seen in most NFL head coaches, his personnel decisions are questionable.
A twenty-hour drive south to Los Angeles, Kiffin is focused on recruiting with no hope of returning to a college bowl game until 2012. Playing with the most talented roster west of the Mississippi River, the Trojans finished the season at 8-5.
The stars are aligning perfectly for Carroll to replace Kiffin after he is dismissed following the 2011 season.
The End of the Trojans' Two-Year NCAA Bowl Ban
On June 10, 2010 the NCAA announced sanctions against the Trojan football program that included a two-year bowl ban, the elimination of thirty scholarships and the forfeiture of two (2004 and 2005) of Carrol's greatest seasons in Los Angeles.
A coincidence or not, Carroll left his position with the Trojans to coach the Seahawks just six months prior to this announcement. Hiring Carroll to return in 2012 is the splash needed to return USC football to the national spotlight.
Once considered the best program in the country, the Trojans need to quickly catch-up to a powerful Oregon program.
Questions Regarding Carroll as a NFL Coach and Executive
After being spoiled with the savvy, and success of Mike Holmgren, Seahawk fans are not sold on Carroll as a NFL head coach. The Seahawks are 6-8, and not recognized as a quality team despite leading the NFC West division.
Carroll doesn't have the roster depth to deal with the common injuries incurred during a an NFL season.
Following this season, the burden of an aging Matt Hasslebeck, a non-existent running game, and an average defense will be the main issues facing Seahawks management. Some of his personnel decisions have been pleasantly surprising.
He has made several good draft picks, and also some very puzzling transactions. 2010 first-round picks Russell Okung, and Earl Thomas have been good. The return of Mike Williams has been a comeback story. The release of T.J. Houshmanzadeh was a shocking move before the season began.
Building a strong NFL roster takes time, and Carroll likes to achieve success quickly. Stints with New England, Seattle and the New York Jets have yet to prove he is a quality NFL coach.
Lane Kiffin Was Never "The Guy" USC Wanted
His coaching ties with USC is apparent, but Kiffin still has yet to prove he can win consistently as a head coach. The university settled with Kiffin after receiving no interest from Mike Riley, Jack Del Rio and Jeff Fisher.
A sharp contrast to Carroll's laid-back personality, Kiffin makes uneducated statements and decisions that spark outrage among coaching peers, fan-bases and the media. The Los Angeles community and Kiffin's personality do not match.
Since leaving the Trojans as an offensive coordinator, he has held three different coaching positions over the past four years. Kiffin quickly constructed a coaching staff of big names in Los Angeles that included Norm Chow, Ed Orgeron, and his father Monte Kiffin.
His team went 8-5 in 2010 and lost games to rival Notre Dame, Washington, Stanford, Oregon, and Oregon State.
Carroll Loves College, Los Angeles, and Recruiting
The only true reason Carroll left was his insight on future NCAA sanctions for his program. In nine seasons in Los Angeles, he went 83-19 including seven straight Pac-10 titles. With the absence of an NFL team, Trojan football is the darling of the nation's second largest city.
He was magnificent in making his program the entertaining show local fans coveted. Carroll is an enthusiastic, charismatic, sunshine-loving personality that fits perfect in the southern California scene.
It is much easier to get blue-chip recruits to attend USC then convincing big-name free agents to move to rainy Seattle. He has admittedly recognized his enjoyment in recruiting and the talent he brought to USC provides proof of his success.
Both Seattle and USC Will Be Average in 2011
Stated earlier, the Trojans need to make a splash to return to the national spotlight of college football. Since his departure, the Oregon football program has cemented their position as the best in the conference.
Even with the return of quarterback Matt Barkley, the Trojans will continue to struggle in 2011 behind an average defense. Motivating a group of elite athletes to compete at the highest-level with no reward (bowl game) in sight has proved to be difficult in Los Angeles.
The 2010 Seattle campaign has seen the team defeat only one quality opponent (Chicago). Carroll's squad has been dominated in the majority of their eight losses.
Unless the offense can immensely improve this off-season, the Seahawks will surely be looking up at the improving St. Louis Rams and a talented San Francisco team.
The 2012 USC Football Season
After a below-average 2011 season, Seahawk ownership decides to terminate Carroll in January 2012. Once receiving this news, USC begins to review the progression of the program under Kiffin who is 15-10 in two seasons with the Trojans.
The athletic department consults with both coaches, and then announces to the public that Carroll will return to Los Angeles in 2012 as the Trojans head coach. Carroll then somehow convinces Kiffin to become his offensive coordinator.
Both Kiffin and Carroll are blessed with good fortune as Barkley decides to return for his senior season.
Things return to normal in Los Angeles and the team battles for the 2012 Pac-12 conference title.