Other coaches buy into Pete Carroll’s vision
The Seahawks coach’s success the past five years has led leaders from all sports to peek inside his lab.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Carroll’s career highlights
• 27-21 in three seasons at New England (1997-99)
• 6-10 in one season with New York Jets (1994)
• 83-19 in nine seasons at USC (2001-09)
• Two BCS Championship Game appearances: 2005 win over Oklahoma* and 2006 loss to Texas
• National championships in 2003 and 2004 from The Associated Press
• Six BCS bowl victories
When Steve Kerr met Seahawks coach Pete Carroll for the first time this offseason, he thought they were “kindred spirits.”
Both are from California. Both are positive. Both believe sports should be fun.
Kerr, the first-year coach of the Golden State Warriors, held those principles long before he met Carroll, but by spending time with the Seahawks, he cemented the vision he had already blueprinted.
“I knew coming in that I would have a bent toward humor and fun,” Kerr said. “But I wasn’t sure if I could be confident in that approach until I saw Pete winning a Super Bowl coaching the way I wanted to coach. He gave me confidence that I could do it my way, and he helped me formulate what that was going to be.”
It wasn’t that long ago that Carroll’s upbeat, music-blasting, basketball-shooting persona was considered too soft for the NFL. But Carroll’s success with the Seahawks in the past five years has led coaches from all sports to peek inside Carroll’s lab.
Among those who have visited in the past couple of years: Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon, Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey, Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez and Lt. Gen. Robert Brown.
One of Kerr’s tangible takeaways from Carroll is noticeable during most Golden State practices: music.
“I wouldn’t have played music if I hadn’t gone up there,” Kerr said.
Stotts, the Blazers coach, had not met Carroll before he spent 30 minutes talking about big-picture ideas in Carroll’s office. Stotts returned from that meeting and purchased Carroll’s book.
“I think Pete’s greatest strength is his interaction with his players,” Stotts said. “He knows his X’s and O's, but the way they’re never out of a game and the way they continue to compete and believe, I think that comes across with the teams they have.
“He has a vision, he has an optimism, and I think that’s pervasive in the program that he runs.”
Casey, the Raptors coach, went to a Seahawks practice a couple years ago at the urging of his neighbor — Seahawks punter Jon Ryan, a Canadian and a Raptors fan.
Casey watched the speed and intensity with which offensive-line coach Tom Cable ran his drills, and he admired the pace at which the Seahawks practiced.
Casey also noticed the music and upon returning to the Raptors he said he wanted to try playing music during practice. He didn’t stick to that, but that’s kind of the point.
“You’ve got to be yourself, and I think that’s one thing I’ve learned from Coach in watching him and studying him and reading his book,” Casey said. “He told me in our conversation, ‘If you aren’t yourself, the players will be the first ones to see through it.’ That’s one thing I learned from him.
“Every day he walks out on the field, he’s enthusiastic, and you can just feel his passion. But that’s who he is. That’s another thing I took away: I can do that, and I can be that in my sport. I can bring that passion and enthusiasm.”
McClendon took over the Mariners last season with a clear perception of how he was perceived.
“Hired to be fired,” McClendon said.
And it didn’t take long for him to gain an understanding of how his new team was perceived, either.
“We were no good, and the players that we had were no good,” he said.
What McClendon had to do in his first season as Seattle’s manager wasn’t just turn around the product on the field. He had to overhaul a culture.
McClendon didn’t discover anything he didn’t already believe in when he watched the Seahawks practice. But the way Carroll’s players reacted to the atmosphere at practice reaffirmed what he wanted.
“The one thing I really took away was something that I wanted to create with my ballclub: an atmosphere of enjoyment, an atmosphere of really enjoying what you’re doing and try to get better at your craft,” McClendon said. “I thought that was very, very unique. I was really, really impressed with it.”
It is also why McClendon said he didn’t worry about the Seahawks when their season was in trouble.
“I remember I was in town and somebody was asking about the Seahawks when they were 3-3,” McClendon said. “And I told them at that time, ‘Don’t worry about the Seahawks. They have great leadership. Those players will take on his personality, and they’ll be just fine.’ And they were.”
|The Carroll Era|
|Pete Carroll’s tenure as Seahawks coach|
Jayson Jenks: 206-464-8277 or firstname.lastname@example.org