By Gregg Bell
The Associated Press
SEATTLE — Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks do not have an agreement despite widespread reports but are closing in on a deal, according to a league official with direct knowledge of the coaching search.
The official told The Associated Press today the team is in “discussions” with the University of Southern California coach and do not plan on giving him the additional title of president.
The official added the Seahawks will hire a general manager and coach separately.
“No, they do not have an agreement. They are not there,” the official told the AP, speaking on condition of anonymity because the Seahawks are not commenting.
When asked if Carroll will become the eighth coach in Seattle’s 34-year history, the official said all signs point that way, just “not so fast” as has been reported.
Carroll has coached the New York Jets and New England Patriots and spent nine years at USC. He is under consideration by a Seattle team that went 5-11 this season and fired coach Jim Mora on Friday after one season.
ESPN, which hired Carroll to provide analysis for this week’s national championship game, said Carroll reached a coaching agreement.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the Seahawks — owned by Microsoft Corp. tycoon Paul Allen — are believed to be offering Carroll a five-year contract worth $7 million a season to be president and coach. That would be a raise of more than $2 million annually on what Carroll is thought to be earning at USC.
Carroll’s agent, Gary Uberstine, did not return calls and e-mails from AP today.
The Seahawks already have interviewed Minnesota defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. Teams must interview minority candidates for head coaching jobs.
The Seahawks are 9-23 since their last playoff game in January 2008. Four weeks ago they forced general manager and president Tim Ruskell to resign. That left them without a coach, general manager or president less than four years after reaching the Super Bowl.
Carroll was 6-10 in 1994 with the Jets and then 27-21 while twice reaching the playoffs from 1997-99 with the Patriots. He then restored a dynasty at USC beginning in 2001.
This was perhaps the best time to leave the Trojans since he arrived in 2001. USC’s string of seven consecutive Pac-10 titles ended with four losses this season. And the school has been under several years of NCAA scrutiny for alleged improprieties on Carroll’s team and in athletic director Mike Garrett’s beleaguered department.
When receiver Damian Williams announced he would enter the NFL, the news release of his departure Friday night didn’t include a comment from Carroll, who often lavishes praise on his early entry candidates.
If Carroll is indeed leaving college, USC’s recruits must now decide whether to honor their commitments to the Trojans or re-enter the recruiting derby late in process.
University of Washington coach Steve Sarkisian left his friend Carroll and the Trojans 12 months ago for his first head coaching job. He was asked if he’d like to be a head man in the same city as his mentor.
“That would be kind of fun,” Sarkisian said. “He’s a great coach.”