End of an Era?

Oh by the way, Damian Williams and Joe McKnight declared for the NFL Draft. It was that kind of Friday, when reports of Pete Carroll's possible departure from USC stunned the college football world.

Oh by the way, Damian Williams and Joe McKnight declared for the NFL Draft.

It was that kind of Friday, moving day in more ways than one around Heritage Hall, where the departure of a 1,000 yard receiver and rusher, players responsible for 18 total touchdowns this season, was barely received with a second thought. Not on the day when it became clear Pete Carroll's time at USC was likely over, not with a BCS title or NCAA sanctions but with the whimper weeks removed from the Emerald Bowl and a mediocre – by his remarkable standards – nine win season.

It was only fitting that the reaction was similarly muted. With winter break coming to an end, only a handful of students were even on campus. Outgoing safety Will Harris and junior defensive end Malik Jackson were the only two players who stopped by Heritage Hall – Harris to clear out his possessions in a plastic bag, Jackson walking his dog.

Neither had new insight into Carroll's future, beyond the whirlwind of text messages, Facebook statuses and Twitter speculation about the Seahawks and Riley, Del Rio, Fisher or Harbaugh.

Hours later, athletic director Mike Garrett came closest to admitting what everyone had already suspected, saying that further comment would be coming "probably after the weekend, I imagine."

Jackson and Harris took the stiff upper lip approach, referring to football as a business.

Said Harris: "That's just the way it goes, the way football works out here."

And that's what ultimately happened. Carroll never hid his interest in returning to the NFL, talking about capitalizing on the right opportunity. That's what Seattle is offering.

Setting aside the fact the Seahawks tried this experiment with former USC quarterback Mike Holmgren to mixed results, Carroll is reportedly being offered the keys to the store. He'll get his say in every aspect of football operations, not to mention an enormous seven million dollar annual salary.

Only one other coach is getting that deal this season and he has Super Bowl rings.

Offers like this don't come along every day, not in the NFL, which has gone away from college coaches to hiring up-and-coming coordinators in its own ranks. This was the last, best chance for Carroll to get exactly what he wanted.


USC head coach Pete Carroll could have coached his last game at USC.


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