Pete Carroll "What's up Mike? Good to talk to you again."
ML "It's great getting ready for football again. You've got to feel just as excited as when you got the job, if not more so."
PC "Oh, I think I'm more excited, yeah. I feel like we know what we're doing, we've got a feel for the players, a feel for the conference. We're excited right now."
ML "What was the biggest surprise when you took this job, good or bad?"
PC "I haven't really had any bad surprises. The good ones have been that I'm having more fun than I thought I would, I'm enjoying coaching more than I thought I could. It's just been a really fun ride so far and we're looking forward to making something happen this season."
ML "When we talked last year I told you my guy was Matt Grootegoed and you said to watch out for Troy Polamalu. Well, you were right. How do you find guys who are going to go out and play for you as hard as Troy does?"
PC "Well, he's a rare football player. He's a special guy, it's going to be hard to try to find a guy just like him. You're lucky if you get a couple of them in your career. He was a guy who was a very low profile recruit from a little town in Oregon and he kind of had to fight for a spot. His cause was championed by some people close to him and the Trojans jumped on the chance to bring him in and he's been an incredible football player. He's as good as anybody I've ever coached. I'm thinking he's gonna have a long career and he's gonna be a high draft choice if everything stays in the same vein. I've been very fortunate, Mike, over the years to have some very good safeties like Joey Browner, Tim McDonald, Ronnie Lott, Lawyer Milloy so in my system I've always had a safety who was pretty darn good. Troy was just a natural to fit in and we kind of know how to highlight a guy with that kind of ability and so it's just been a great marriage for him."
ML "Staying on defense, I thought you got some great production last year from your line, particularly some young guys and I've always been one who thinks it takes a couple years to get some seasoning down there. What happened? Are they that talented or was that good coaching by your staff?"
PC "I think it's a combination of both. First off, Ed Orgeron is a terrific defensive line coach. He has the ability to really tap a young kids motor and get it going to mine the most out of him. It also helps to have the talent like Shaun Cody, one of the most highly decorated players in the country a few years back, and Kenechi Udeze who started and has just a tremendous football future. Mike Patterson came in and played real well for us after Bernard Riley went down. We have three returning guys who really played a lot as freshmen and when you put that together with Bernard and add a couple guys on the outside and we're gonna have a pretty good front. For quite a while as a matter of fact."
ML "Let's flop it over to offense. Everybody knows that Carson Palmer's been there, done that, he's your guy. It's interesting though when you look at the running back spot and a guy who many thought should have been an SC guy all along, Justin Fargas, he went to Michigan and now he's back. Where is he in the mix, how is his health and what are your plans for him?"
PC "He did get away, he did go to Michigan but he always loved SC, things just didn't work out right away. We were thrilled to get him back. He's been such a great addition to our program because he's such a great competitor and I can't wait to see him carry the football for us. In the spring, man, he was doing it. Making big plays and running tough. He's competing in a real competitive environment with Sultan McCullough and Malaefou MacKenzie, Darryl Poston and those guys will battle it out and we'll see how it goes. I'm really pleased with this whole situation for sure."
ML "When I look at your schedule it just looks like cupcake city. My gosh, Pete, did you know this was the schedule when you took the job?"
PC "Yeah, yeah, I've always liked the tough assignments. No, it's really gonna be a great start, I'm really pumped about playing Auburn on Monday Night Football. The whole country's gonna see it, there's a lot going on and there will be great excitement at the stadium. Then we get a bit of a break before we go to Colorado then we slide on down the Rockies to Manhattan, Kansas. It's a tremendous, challenging start for us and certainly we'll be game ready by Oregon State when the Pac-10 comes around."
ML "You had an interesting end to last season when you absolutely blew out UCLA, I don't think I've seen an SC team play much better for one football game, and then kind of a letdown in the bowl game. So how do you capture the team who played against UCLA and guard against the team that showed up against Utah?"
PC "I think we had enough of a run at the end of the year to gain enough momentum to see the good stuff. We played real well on defense against Utah, we just didn't score any points. We played tough, they're a good football team, but we just didn't play well enough to win it. That hasn't set us off-stride at all. We've really picked up where we left off at the end of the season, we had a fantastic off-season and we really think we're gonna come back in full flow here. The schedule is certainly gonna check us out, its gonna be something to see here and we're hoping we're up for it."
ML "When I look at what the prognosticators say about your team, they say it's goning to be better. I agree with them but the question is are you going to be a little better or a lot better?"
PC "I think that's going to be determined by how successful we are running the football. I put a lot of emphasis on that in the off-season and fortunately we've come up with a position situation that's really going to help us. We need a good balanced attack so that Carson can have the time to move around and throw the football like he's capable and that makes us, I think, a pretty strong offense. If we can return to the kind of defense we played last year, which I was pretty happy with, I think we can put together a pretty darn good football team. It's depends how we survive the season, let's see how we are come the Pac-10 league. If we're healthy and ready to play at that time then I think we're ready to make a run at this thing. We're excited about our chances."
ML "For those who are listening outside of LA and don't know who Marv Goux was, he was a legendary USC assistant coach who passed away recently. He had a memorial service last week and you were asked to speak at it and you followed Brad Budde, a former Lombardi Award winner, and Budde gave just an inspiring speech that really stirred up the crowd and I thought "man, I would hate to have to follow that" yet you went up there and availed yourself quite well and captured everybody there. You seem to have taken quite well to this whole Trojan legacy, the Trojan tradition which other coaches have kind of turned their back on. Was this a conscious decision on your part or was this a resource that you just knew you needed to tap?"
PC "I grew up in California and was aware of the tradition for years, I had always wished I had a chance to play here and all that kind of stuff so it wasn't something I was unfamiliar with. It's a tremendous asset in the program to have the background and the potential that the University of Southern California has. To have the chance to represent the school, I'm thrilled to do that. I'm hoping to embrace all the tradition of it and to include everybody who has ever been part of it as much as possible and draw on the strength that brings. To have a chance to be part of the Marv Goux ceremony, which was just an incredible day as you know, to follow such class acts as the guys who spoke before me, it illustrates what Marv was all about. I was the last guy and I had to follow Brad Budde who just did a remarkable job and I figured, well, I don't know what I'm gonna tell these people but I'm just gonna go up there and have some fun and love Marv up and just be part of the day. I was really thrilled to be part of that. What a tremendous individual, he's meant so much to the University and will continue to. He deserved every bit he got on that day, that's for sure."