Carroll says Huizenga has unique ideas for NFL owner

Updated: January 10, 2007, 1:16 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Though coach Pete Carroll says he's committed to staying at Southern California, he seems intrigued by the ideas of Miami Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga.

Carroll said Tuesday that he met with Huizenga for about four hours in Costa Rica over the weekend. The Dolphins have been without a head coach since Nick Saban left to take the Alabama job last week.

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"This was the one instance I've come in contact with that has all the elements I have talked about," Carroll said at a news conference on campus. "[Huizenga] has structured a program where the head coach has the entire say, from top to bottom.

"It's a one-voice program. I don't think there are any other situations like that in the NFL."

Carroll said he was not offered the Miami coaching job, and stressed that he has never thought about leaving USC since arriving after the 2000 season.

"I'm thrilled to be here," he said. "As I've been the whole time, I haven't wavered. I know that being curious about it has helped me appreciate what we have here.

"I absolutely expect to be here."

The 55-year-old Carroll formerly coached the New York Jets and New England Patriots before coming to USC, and has often said he preferred coaching in the college ranks because he had complete control.

"It was a major statement he made finding me out there," Carroll said regarding the meeting. "In a situation where you have an alternative, it's worth finding out what it is.

"This was the only time I've even thought about talking with anybody [from the NFL]. Here's a situation where a guy would give a head coach the opportunity to do anything he wanted to do. He's an awesome guy."

Carroll also said: "I love the Trojans. I love being here -- we're in the middle of something that's really special. I don't want to take any steps away from it."

Huizenga met with Carroll in Costa Rica on Sunday. The Dolphins' owner initiated contact, leaving messages on Carroll's cell phone, and the USC coach said he felt obligated "to at least listen."

Carroll said had no idea as to the progress of the Dolphins' coaching search and didn't know if or when he would speak with Huizenga again.

"I've got to tell you that I'm always chasing a challenge," Carroll said. "I'm teased by all challenges."

Carroll returned Tuesday from Costa Rica, where he had been vacationing since No. 4 USC beat No. 8 Michigan 32-18 in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day. The Trojans have won 56 of their last 60 games and figure to enter the 2007 season as one of the nation's top-ranked teams.

Only four USC players who started in the Rose Bowl are seniors, although there's a good possibility leading receiver Dwayne Jarrett will pass up his final year of eligibility to turn pro. Jarrett, a two-time All-American, will announce his future plans at a news conference Wednesday.

Carroll has coached the Trojans to an unprecedented five straight Bowl Championship Series appearances. USC is 59-6 in the past five seasons, and 65-12 in his six years as head coach.

The Trojans beat Oklahoma 55-19 in the BCS title game following the 2004 season and lost to Texas 41-38 in the championship game the following year. USC was bypassed for the title game following the 2003 season before beating Michigan 28-14 in the Rose Bowl to win The Associated Press national championship.

Carroll coached the Jets to a 6-10 record in 1994, and New England to a 27-21 mark and two playoff appearances from 1997-99 before being fired and replaced by Bill Belichick, who has coached the Patriots to three Super Bowl championships. However, they were 5-11 in 2000 before Belichick turned them around.

Carroll took the 2000 season off before being hired to replace the fired Paul Hackett, who coached the Trojans to a 19-18 record in three seasons.

Carroll is one of the highest-paid coaches in college, but Huizenga last week said: "I don't care what it takes, what it costs, what's involved. We're going to make this a winning franchise."

The Dolphins have failed to make the playoffs the past five seasons, a team record.

Carroll said he left a message for USC athletic director Mike Garrett after agreeing to speak with Huizenga.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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