Commentary

Carroll's exuberance isn't dampened

The former USC coach brings typical spirit to his introduction as the Seahawks' coach

Updated: January 13, 2010, 12:32 AM ET
By Shelley Smith | ESPNLosAngeles.com

RENTON, Wash. -- As new Seahawks coach Pete Carroll walked hand in hand with his wife, Glena, through the team's 225,000-square-foot practice facility, which sits adjacent to Lake Washington, he beamed even as he had no clue where they were being led.

"I have horrible mall sense," he said. "Take me to a mall, spin me around one time and I can't find my way out. No idea. No idea where my office is. If I can see the lake, I might be able to find my way."

What he saw blew him away: an 88,000-square-foot indoor practice facility, locker rooms as large as banquet halls, indoor pools and hot tubs, and a weight room that not only overlooks the lake, but seems nearly as big. Basically, comparing what he had to work with at USC to the Seahawks' facility would be like comparing a roadside diner to the Burj Dubai.

"I hope we don't get soft," he said, glancing up, "because this is so sweet."

It was raining. Of course. But even a rainy day in Seattle couldn't dampen Carroll's exuberance as he met the media. At first he sounded as professional as the players he had just inherited, talking about the importance of the run game, the importance of having a solid quarterback. And then inevitably it happened -- "jacked up" slipped into his vernacular, as in, "we're jacked up" about this new opportunity.

He couldn't help himself.

Carroll has always been "pumped," "jacked up," "on fire," "psyched" or "stoked" about what he's about to undertake, whether it's facing the Oregon spread offense or taking the reins of an embattled Seahawks organization.

And so, after the news conference, there he was, sitting on a chair in a suit and tie on the turf of the indoor practice field.

"Man, I just want to run around and throw the ball," he said.

Good thing there wasn't a football around, because, well, he can't help himself -- even in a suit and tie.

Carroll's unbridled enthusiasm and Pollyanna tendencies were well known on the USC campus. He was the fun coach, the cool coach, the guy every kid wanted to play for. And now, he is talking a good game about how his style will work in the NFL because the players aren't that much older than the ones he just left behind in Los Angeles. But you have to wonder if grown men in a big-time business will relate to the pranks Carroll liked to pull on the Trojans, or the field trips to the beach, or the impromptu team sing-alongs.

"How do you know they won't?" he said, laughing. "You don't change your philosophy. Coach Wooden taught me that. You don't change your philosophy. The players change and dynamics shift because of the players."

One of his former USC players, Lawrence Jackson, stood in the back of the news conference with a half-dozen or so other current Seahawks players. He knows all too well how Carroll got him out of a funk during his senior year -- by having him read the old classic sports psychology book, "The Inner Game of Tennis," to teach him to train his mind in addition to his body.

How would that play in Renton?

"Uh, well that was a special situation," Lo-Jack said and laughed.

"The main thing is that Pete wants to win. And that plays anywhere."

Shelley Smith is an ESPN correspondent based in Los Angeles.

Shelley Smith

SportsCenter correspondent
Shelley Smith joined ESPN in January 1997 after working part-time as a reporter for the network since 1993. She has covered Super Bowls, the NBA Finals, the BCS championship game, the Stanley Cup playoffs, golf and tennis championships and more.

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