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Clayton: No. 15 ranking for Carroll ‘too low’

By Brent Stecker

In his first three seasons as the Seahawks head coach, Pete Carroll has led the team to a division title, two playoff wins, and built one of the most fearsome teams in the NFL. But in CBS Sports columnist Pete Prisco’s rankings of the NFL’s coaches, Carroll checked smack dab in the middle at No. 15.

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Pete Carroll was ranked No. 15 in CBS Sports’ NFL coaches rankings despite leading the Seahawks to two playoffs wins in his first three years as head coach. (AP)

Prisco admittedly puts more importance on championships and strong records, but ESPN’s John Clayton said on “Cold Hard Facts” during “Wyman, Mike and Moore” that Prisco missed the mark with Carroll.

“I think it’s too low for Pete Carroll,” said Clayton. “You look at the franchise and you look at the team he took over, and here Pete Carroll took over a turnaround team. He basically had to build it, so your record’s not gonna be great.

“Say what you want, but success is ultimately judged with what you do as far as building a franchise, which I think you can see that Pete has done.”

Carroll, who won two national championships at USC but is just 25-23 in Seattle, may still suffer from his reputation as a college coach.

“Maybe there’s a resistance in the National Football League by a lot of experts that he’s still a college guy in their mind, not realizing that he spent more of his career in the National Football League than he did in college,” said Clayton, referencing the fact that since 1984, Carroll has been an assistant or head coach in the NFL for all but his nine years at USC. “Maybe they look at Pete Carroll and think, ‘He’s on probation here from USC.’ No, this guy is a good football coach, and I think he’s shown it.”

The low ranking may also stem from the Seahawks still being a relatively unknown commodity.

“He kind of snuck up on everybody last year. I still think a lot of people nationally just don’t know how good this team is,” said Clayton.

“The Professor” believes Carroll’s Seahawks record paired with his tenures with the Jets and Patriots have proven more than Prisco gave him credit for.

“I go back to when he was the head coach both with the Jets and with the Patriots — it didn’t work out with the Jets, (but) he didn’t have a quarterback. When he had a quarterback in Drew Bledsoe (with New England), he made the playoffs two years and won a game,” said Clayton. “He’s come in and won a playoff game his first year (with the Seahawks) with a 7-9 team, and he’s now got this team to the point where they’re in the final four in the conference and could go beyond that.”

Not only that, but he’s also energized a fan base that had plenty of reason to be weary of him at first.

“Believe me, what town was more skeptical of him than Seattle? He came into a UW town, a USC guy, and look what he’s done with this franchise,” said Clayton. “Now I think the city’s embracing him, and there’s no doubt he’s embraced the team. If they have a softball game they might outdraw the Mariners. That’s how popular this football team is. I think you have to give Pete the credit, along with (general manager) John Schneider.”