Pete Carroll on vacated title: ‘It’s so far off base’

Jun 12, 2011, 9:40 AM | Updated: Jun 13, 2011, 11:33 am

Carroll USC
Pete Carroll’s USC Trojans beat Oklahoma for the 2004 BCS national championship. (AP)

By Michael Simeona

Before Pete Carroll joined the Seahawks in January of 2010, he spent a decade leading one of the most successfull collegiate football programs of all time, the USC Trojans.

Dubbed as the “Prince of the City”, Carroll was a coaching legend in Los Angeles, leading the men of Troy to a decade of dominance from 2000-2009. In his 10 seasons at USC, Carroll won two consecutive AP National Titles (2003, 2004), and coached three Heisman Trophy winners (Carson Palmer in ’02, Matt Leinart in ’04, Reggie Bush in ’05).

But Carroll’s legacy at USC changed by the time he left for the Emerald City.

After the NCAA hit the USC program with several penalties resulting from an investigation that (since-vacated) Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush had received improper benefits from an agent, Carroll was blamed for skipping town to avoid the impending hammer thrown by the NCAA.

Last week, the BCS stripped the Trojans of their 2004 BCS National Title after being penalized with a two-year bowl ban and a loss of 30 football scholarships that began at the start of the 2010 season.

“I think the NCAA has been off in terms of sanctions from the beginning,” Carroll said in an interview with Mark Willard of 710 ESPN Los Angeles on Saturday. “Just watch the comments of the players. They know who won, who didn’t. (Matt) Leinart and Lofa Tatupu and those guys, they all know.

“The whole thing is so unfortunate, and it’s so far off base.”

Vacating past performances is nothing new for the NCAA.

The famed “Fab Five” Michigan Wolverines men’s basketball team vacated their NCAA tournament appearances in the early 90’s for numerous rule violations. More recently, the Ohio State football program has been tarnished after head coach Jim Tressel resigned last month for failing to notify the compliance department of his players’ indiscretions.

“I think this is a major challenge for the NCAA, because of what they’ve done here in the past recently,” Carroll said of the Ohio State football scandal. “I don’t know how they’re going to possibly make sense of all this.”

While specific program’s are being punished for violating NCAA law, Carroll believes the system is placing harm on the wrong group of people at an ineffective time.

“(The NCAA has) to do what they do,” Carroll said. “They figure out how the thing is supposed to work. I don’t agree with much of any of it. It’s unfortunate that kids, years and years after, are punished for what the NCAA is dealing with from years and years before. That’s the most unfortunate thing … kids that were in junior high at the time, or in grade school, are paying the price for it.”

The memory of winning two consecutive national titles will always be something Carroll will remember, but that’s all it can be now — a distant memory.

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