It understandably took no time at all for the Seahawks' fan base to openly wonder if imminent NCAA penalties against USC had anything to do with the team's eyebrow-raising decision to hire Pete Carroll as its new head coach.
Following the June 10 ruling by the NCAA that USC would be banned from bowl games for the next two years and lose 30 scholarships over the next three years — primarily due to improper benefits received by former Trojans RB Reggie Bush — speculation heightened regarding Carroll's possible ulterior motive for moving to Seattle.
Carroll, meanwhile, couldn't have been more adamant in his insistence that the NCAA sanctions had absolutely nothing to do with his decision to split the USC scene.
"My coming to Seattle is for one reason," Carroll defiantly declared in a lengthy post-OTA briefing with the local media five days after USC's penalties were announced. "It's a NFL dream opportunity for me, and it had nothing to do with anything that was going on at any time.
"That ongoing investigation was five years in the making, anyway. Why wouldn't I have left some other time?"
A more pertinent question lingered in the minds of team insiders: To what extent, if any, have the USC penalties adversely affected the Seahawks' offseason activities?
"What's worth pointing out much more (than any backlash from the USC penalties) is the fire that Carroll continues to light under everybody," said one daily team observer. "Actually, it's amazing how much fun the team seems to be having. There is a real positive energy, with fired-up games going on in practices every day between the offense and the defense.
"Carroll has really made competition the big theme, and the steady changes that have been occurring — like (DT) Red Bryant being named the left end in run situations and Lawyer Milloy being named the starting strong safety — attest to that. It appears everybody on the roster is being given a real shot."
That said, people like RB LenDale White, who remains baffled by the Seahawks' decision to suddenly cut him, continue to cast Carroll in a questionable light.
"Pete Carroll?" White replied when asked about his former college coach in his first interview since he was released by the Seahawks.
"The same Pete Carroll who ran out on 'SC'?
"I have no comment on Pete."
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