Has there ever been one college program more represented on one Super Bowl team than the joint effort between USC and the Seattle Seahawks the last two years?
Doubtful. Very doubtful.
The number is amazing. Seventeen, count 'em, 17 Trojans will be on the field or the sidelines for Seattle Sunday evening starting, of course, with head coach Pete Carroll. And USC fans could not be more happy.
Because Pete's success in the NFL makes it clear USC's similar success under Carroll a decade ago was no fluke. Was not the result, as some opponents and the NCAA have charged, of any sort of skirting the rules. It was simply a matter of competing better, smarter and more relentlessly the way Pete has always preached.
The USC component here is something Pete never forgets. And something he referenced at Friday's head coaching press conference with Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who succeeded him when he was fired at New England.
"Things have changed a tremendous amount since that time," Carroll said. "I had a great opportunity to kind of find a way to do this job. Really great years at SC (University of Southern California) that were so much fun, and then to take the approach to the NFL and see it how it goes if you treat people and you help them feel like you really do care for them and you do care that you bring them to the best of their capabilities. It’s been a really exciting and fun time to do that."
Pete returned to that theme at the end of the press conference when asked about his relationship with Patriots owner Robert Kraft. "I’ll forever be grateful for that. The character that he’s demonstrated, the class that he’s demonstrated in the years that followed to support me and my career as I went on – the best thing that has ever happened is that he sent me to USC.”
So with Pete, you have Trojan No. 1. Here are the rest of the 17 starting with the players, coaches and Seahawks staff members and our recollections of their time at USC.
2) Mike Morgan, linebacker: You wouldn't have guessed that Mike would be the breakthrough guy here but the soft-spoken young man from Dallas everyone thought might be too small, or too thin, to make it in the NFL as a linebacker has defied all the odds and found a place on the Seattle special teams. Often comes back to campus.
3) Malcom Smith, linebacker: All he did is make the game-saving Super Bowl-winning interception a year ago earning MVP honors despite not being a starter. But as he showed at USC, he had a tendency to be in the right place at the right time. And right now, being in Seattle with Pete is exactly the right place.
4) Anthony MCoy, tight end: Quietly went off to the NFL after four years at USC and made a place for himself as a solid starter for the Seahawks before an injury cut him down this season. Another of those who seem to have blossomed under Pete.
5) Dion Bailey, safety: Left a year early for the NFL and for a while it looked like he'd made a mistake when he was cut in Seattle. But now he's back on the practice squad and in the Super Bowl his first season in the league. Happy for Dion who gave USC everything he had.
6) Allen Bradford, linebacker: One of our absolute all-time favorite USC players. He's bounced around, from offense to defense, and it hasn't been easy for Allen but he didn't give up and finally hooked up again with the man who recruited him to be a Trojan and here he is -- from a man without a position and a team to the Super Bowl.
7) Carl Smith, quarterbacks coach: He was here for just one year, the national championship season of 2004, but always a delight to talk to a 22-year NFL lifer who loved to explain what the offense was doing and why and how. He joined Pete in 2011 in Seattle.
8) Nate Carroll, wide receivers assistant: Pete's younger son, just 27, is a USC grad and former high school standout at Peninsula High in Palos Verdes who turned down Jim Harbaugh's offer to come to the U. of San Diego as a quarterback for the chance to stay at USC and go to practice every day with his dad, who would hire him on as a scouting intern in 2010. Pete says it's one of the special thrills now to be able to coach every day with his son.
9) Pat Ruel, assistant O-line coach: The former Miami standout coached USC's O-line for five seasons (2005-2009) before joing Carroll in Seattle in 2010. Our favorite memory of Pat is the day he literally chased a bunch of agent runners out of Heritage Hall one January day as they were trolling for Trojans.
10) Ken Norton Jr., linebackers coach: Starting out as a grad assistant at USC, Ken put in six special seasons (2004-2009) tutoring some special Trojans linebackers that will forever put a smile on USC fans' faces. Hard to think of a time when it wasn't comforting to see the 13-year NFL star on the USC sidelines. He started in 2010 with Pete in Seattle.
11) Kris Richard, secondary coach: The former Trojan and NFL DB and grad assistant in 2008-2009 started with Seattle in 2010 but what USC fans will always remember the Serra grad for is the play that turned around Carroll's first season at USC. The play was his 58-yard game-winning interception at Arizona for a 2-5 USC team starting a four-game win streak that Pete to this day says is the most important play one of his Trojans ever made.
12) Rocky Seto, defensive passing game coordinator: the former Trojan walk-on and volunteer assistant who worked his way up to defensive coordinator may be one of the sweetest human beings ever to coach football. Subject of a terrific profile in The New York Times this week, he's become Pete's right-hand info man, with a coaching job that has morphed into all sorts of duties indispensible to the way the Seahawks do business. Could not happen to a nicer human being or a better Trojan.
13) Brian Schneider, special teams coordinator: After a year at USC in 2009, he joined Pete in Seattle in 2010 and has had special teams that have excelled in pretty much all phases topped off by that fake field goal TD pass and two-point conversion against Green Bay two weeks ago.
14) Chad Morton, assistant special teams: The four-year Trojan from Torrance spent seven years in the NFL as a kick return/special teams guy and then the last five years coaching special teams at Green Bay and helping Randall Cobb become a star before moving to Seattle and joining up with so many other Trojans.
15) Chris Carlisle, strength and conditioning coach: Another of our all-time favorite Trojans for his nine years here. As good as he was converting strength and conditioning work into football-specific skills, nothing Chris did was more impactful than his day-before-the-game inspirational walkthrough talks for the team on the road. Just another on the one-of-a-kind ways that Pete did things differently.
16) Jamie Yanchar, assistant strength and conditioning coach: A fixture in the Southern California sports scene with his work at USC as well as for the Rams, Lakers, Ducks and Sparks over 19 years; The Louisville alum joined Pete and Chris in Seattle in 2010. At USC, he did strength work for national championship teams in men’s and women’s water polo, women’s track & field, men’s tennis, women’s volleyball in addition to football.
17) Ben Malcolmson, special assistant to the head coach for external relations: Just goes to show you how far a former USC walkon with writing skills can go after he documented his 2006 wide receiver walkon stint with the Trojans and convinced Pete how important new media could be for a coach. Subject of a lengthy New York Times profile about his role as Pete's blogger and community outreach specialist.You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at email@example.com.