UPDATE: Remember how I mentioned I wouldn’t transcribe the whole press conference. Well, the Seahawks did that, and I will post it all, including Carroll’s long and rambling 13-minute opening statement after the jump.
- applause Seahawks staffers (always annoying) in attendance
- Carroll’s opening statement was close to 13 minutes long
- an outlandish question including one that referenced Carroll being the coolest coach in the NFL, and of course that guy sat next to me.
- a three-part question that took Carroll just under 11 minutes to answer
- Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke sitting on the side grinning madly and nodding his head at every Carroll statement like a desperate man at a Joel Osteen revival
- more people in the main auditorium of the VMAC than I’ve seen in some time, including a good portion of people I’m sure I won’t see again.
- About the only thing missing from the circus that was the press conference was a dancing panda bear.
I will say this about Carroll, he doesn’t lack for energy. At times he was almost manic in his excitement. It’s about the third time I’ve been around for an interview with him and I can understand why college kids wanted to play for him at USC, regardless of possible NCAA violations.
A few housekeeping things. Carroll wouldn’t confirm any of the coaches that are supposedly coming with him – Jeremy Bates, Ken Norton and the offensive line coach. My boy Curtis Crabtree of KJR asked him to confirm a report of Alex Gibbs coming on as part of the staff. Carroll wouldn’t confirm it, but didn’t deny that an offer has been extended.
“I haven’t talked to Alex today,” he said “I can’t wait to get this over so I can go call him.”
Also according to Leiweke, as part of the structure, Carroll will sit in on all the GM candidate interviews and have input in the hiring process.
Obviously the big question is how the relationship and structure of authority will work between Carroll, whoever is hired as GM and Leiweke.
“As we enter this process to find a GM that is going to fit with the Seahawks, there will be a collaboration and a process of figuring that out,” Carroll said. “There will be a collaboration on figuring out what is the best format to put it together. We want to do it right. So do that, we’ve got to see who the guy is and how we can fit it together.”
Leiweke fell back on his new pet saying, of “working shoulder-to-shoulder.”
Carroll wouldn’t even compare it to his time in New England, instead using USC as a better example.
“Where you have an organization where the people absolutely believe in who you are and what you are all about,” he said. “That’s what this is. They’ve embraced my approach, the way I see things, the way I want to do stuff and the manner that they want to wipe the path clear and give me the clearest opportunity to bring everything that I have to offer. That’s really what I was looking for.
They don’t have an agenda on how they want their football played, they want me to do that.”
Tod Leiweke’s opening statement…
“Good morning. My name is Tod Leiweke. I’m the CEO of the Seattle Seahawks, and today, we announce a new era of Seahawks football. We start the rebuilding of our team with the hiring of one of the best coaches in all of America. We were able to get a guy that other teams tried to get, but didn’t. We were certainly at the right place at the right time, but we also offered Pete an extraordinary opportunity: a committed owner, who I think is absolutely the best in sports, Paul Allen; the best fans, 60 consecutive sell-outs, more illegal procedure calls on visiting teams than any other stadium; and then absolutely fantastic facilities—our stadium and this headquarters.
I toured Pete around today, and Pete was absolutely blown away. Pictures did not do justice to this great facility. We now have a great head coach, and soon we’re going to announce the hiring of a great general manager. Today, there’s new hope for the Seahawks, and an opportunity, again, to dream about championships. I am very, very proud to introduce Pete Carroll as the Seahawks’ Executive Vice President and new Head Coach.”
Pete Carroll’s opening statement…
“I am so fired up to be here today. To start this thing off, the first thing we got to do is tour the facility. Right from the beginning, they’ve undersold. This is a tremendous place to come to work. My appreciation for this opportunity, from the top of the organization, from Paul Allen, Tod Leiweke, and everybody that I’ve had a chance—in this short time—to deal with, have set this thing in motion in a manner that really is almost dreamlike for me.
“I’ve been so impressed with their vision, and their outlook to the future, and how they want this organization to be run, and how they hope it can gain a stature in the community of the NFL and for the people that surround us here in the Seattle area, that is exactly in line with the way I think, and as I envision it, and as I hope this to all come together here in time. This is a very, very important time as we introduce ourselves to each other. I come from a place where we had tremendous fortune, and I was blessed to be at the University of Southern California for the years I was there. And the things we accomplished, the growth that we experienced, has really given me an opportunity as a coach that makes me a much different guy than I was a few years back. With the knowledge of that and the experience of that, as this opportunity presented itself, I just could not pass up the chance to come here. It’s just an amazing opportunity. I have always loved the NFL so much. I loved my time in college football, but always I had a thought that maybe it could come together in a manner that would fit right, that would give me the chance to do things the way I would like to do it, and it’s come together.
“I know that the vision for the program starts at the top. I know that Paul Allen wants to win, and he doesn’t want to just win once in a while. He wants to win from now on. To me, that fits exactly with the way I think, and the way I’ve tried to present our football in recent years. I’ve grown up in the last ten years with expectations in coaching. It’s hard to imagine that the standards could be set so high, where you’re only judged by perfection. I have embraced that thought, and it has made me more clear about how we come to this opportunity here in Seattle, to take us to a place where I hope that we can separate, we can do things in a special manner, I hope we can do things better than it’s ever been done before around here. [There are] extraordinarily high expectations. I love living in that world. I love setting our sights so far out, setting our standards so high, that maybe it doesn’t even seem feasible. That’s okay with me.
“So, as we enter into this, and are embarking into this new time here with the Seahawks, I’m hoping that the people that follow us in this unbelievable fan following will join in, even more than ever before. I’ve heard nothing but extraordinary comments about the stadium. I have not been at Qwest Field for game time, but with the whole 12th Man—which we need—and the fan base that we have that has just blown this place away, I can’t wait to be part of that. As a defensive background guy, knowing that we can call on the 12th Man on third down, we need to take advantage. We need to make sure that we speed this thing up on the edge, we take advantage of our pass rush opportunities to play to the crowd. That will help us be more effective. To be able to connect like that on the first day I’m talking to you, with the fan base, that’s an unusual situation for a coach. But I’m counting on that factor to help us as well.
“The style of play here, I’m going to give you a little bit of insight about what we’re thinking here. If you watch our team play, you’re going to see great effort. If you watch our team play, you’re going to see great enthusiasm. We’re going to play this game like it’s supposed to be played, like you love the game of football and it shows in the way that you bring it from day to day. I want to see a very, very tough football team from the word go. That’s critically important to us. And I want you to see a team that plays smart. So if you’ve got great effort, and you have great enthusiasm, you have great toughness about your program, and you play with great smarts and you do things well, do things right, you have a chance to be a pretty good football team just from that. That’s what it will begin with: a very clear thought of how we’re going to create our ball.
“…We have to run the football to be successful in our division first, and then in the NFL. You have to. So as we set our sights forward, you’ll follow how this will come together and how this will set our course, and philosophically about running the football…It will affect everything that…follows. It’ll affect defense, it’ll affect our passing game, it’ll help our quarterback. It’ll give us the kind of mindset in the approach that we all love, to back when we follow this game of football. So I’m really excited about that. You’ll know more about that in the days to come. You’ll understand what I’m talking about.
“I know that there’s questions about…I was an NFL coach for a long time, 16 years, went back to college coaching for nine seasons at USC. What’s happened? What has this all meant, and what are you getting, really, when you’re getting me coming into this program? There has been a tremendous amount of growth through these past nine years. One, I told you about—about the expectations and living with that. We’re in the NFL. The expectations are, you got to win. I totally understand that, and I get it, and I love that part of what goes on about being in the league. But these expectations don’t have to overwhelm us. They have to drive us and guide us. In my time dealing with championships year after year after year, there comes a mindset of expectations with the players and the coaches in how we prepare and how we practice that is critically important to our future.
We have to embrace and understand the fact that the way you practice is what makes you. This is a mindset that I’m hoping we will be able to convey as quickly as possible to our players, and of course I have to extend it from my staff to our players. But it is what gives you a chance to be a champion from now on. You have to understand the fundamentals of making championship play and bringing yourself to the kind of excellence that it takes to play great. It comes from the way you prepare and the way you practice. It’s an extremely big part of our program, and we’ll share it with you as we go through it. I know that in years past at SC, we had open practices and we had people coming in and out all the time, and it was an atmosphere that is not common in the NFL. I don’t think it’s going to be quite the same here. It’s going to be a little bit different. But we still want to introduce our football to the people that follow us, and know what we’re all about, so that you can embrace it and be part of it as well.
“I think I benefited tremendously in the process in college football of evaluating young players and having to project players into their future and have to see and have the vision to see where they’re going and what they could become, is something that has more keenly attuned me to the whole process of evaluating and analysis of personnel that I’m really excited to bring to our organization. In our time at SC, we recruited all of the same guys that are playing in the NFL, basically. So you’ll ask, ‘How are you going to coach young kids coming from high school to college, and now you’re going to coach grown men?’ Well, they’re the same guys. They’re the same people, they’re just a little bit older. They grow and they experience things a little bit differently, but they’re the same people. I think in the years we were at SC, there’s sixty-something guys who were drafted, and I don’t even know the numbers, but a bunch of first-rounders. They’re the same guys we’re looking for. They’re the same guys we’re looking for as we go through this draft process, and I’m really looking forward to bringing that to the organization. I have a different way of looking at it than I did when I was only a coach. At USC, I had an opportunity to be in charge of the entire program, and have the expectations of evaluating and analysis and managing in a manner that I think has prepared me for this opportunity in a way that I hope I will be very successful at.
“My job is really to orchestrate the performance of this club. In that, as I mentioned about practice, and as I mentioned about dealing with our personnel, this is a big job. And it’s a job that encompasses a lot of aspects of it, and I’m going to need a tremendous amount of help. We will enter into a search here to hire a general manager and put that position in place in the next few days. As a matter of fact, we’ll start this afternoon. This is an enormous decision for us, and it’s a process that we’ll go through together. I’m thrilled to be part of this process. It is extremely instrumental into our future. The whole process of finding our talent, the process of making it fit with the coaching and the style of our play, and being able to be integrally involved in that is hugely important to me, and…really, the reason that I’ve decided to come here is that I understand from the organization that I will be integrally involved in all aspects of that. That’s something that will give me a chance to be the best I can be.
“If there was a difference from when I was in the NFL before to when I [am] in the NFL now, it’s that I think that the experience that I had then, the experience that I had in college football, to see what it’s like to run a program, and to come here with the freedom that we’re going to have, that we’re going to share here, the collaboration that we will present to you as leading this organization, is exactly what I was looking for, exactly what I needed, I think, to be the very best I can offer the Seattle Seahawks. So with that, this is an extraordinary time, and I hope that you can sense the excitement that I feel about this opportunity. I know it’s going to be hard. I know it’s going to be difficult. And people from where I come from want to say, ‘Gosh, why would you do that when you win all the time in college football, and here, you’re going into the meat-grinder of the NFL?’ I’m ready. I couldn’t be more prepared for it. I couldn’t be more excited about it, and I can’t wait to get started. I know we have to go through the press conference, but I can’t wait to get upstairs and start looking at film and getting this thing rolling.
“With that, the last thing I’ll leave you with, that you’ll hear a lot from us in this program is, this program is about competition. We’ll see, in all aspects of the work that we do, that we will be in a relentless pursuit of the competitive edge in everything we’re doing, from the front office to the administration to all of the personnel aspects, to all the work with our players, to the offseason work. We’re going to compete like crazy, like maybe you’ve never seen. And I hope that that will be the theme that will rise to us, that will be the most important part of it, because we are in the most competitive world you can be in, in the NFL. I can’t wait to get this thing under way. I can’t wait to get it started.
“I’m pleased to see that we have some players out here. I saw—just to go through the old—it was great to see Warren [Moon] out there. Thanks for the little bit of love and support out there. Awesome. I know that Lawrence Jackson is here, one of my guys from SC. I didn’t see Lofa [Tatupu] yet, is Lofa out there somewhere? But the guys that will come here, I want them to come see me as soon as possible. I see Aaron [Curry] in the back, back there. Awesome to see you back there, and Josh [Wilson], I think you’re out here somewhere too. It starts with us, our ability to communicate to one another, our ability to see a common vision, and to do this together. I think you’re going to be jacked about the coaches that are going to come in here, and the attitude that they’ll bring, but we need you guys to jump on board and go with us. It won’t happen any other way. We need to be together in our mission on this. So thanks to those guys representing the rest of the fellows that will be part of this. I can’t wait to get going. It’s great to be a Seahawk.”
On whether he would agree with the criticism leveled at him during his time in New England for his practice style…
“That was just one of the many criticisms. [Laughs.] No, I wouldn’t agree with that at all… There’s a personality that comes out of my coaching that might be a little bit different than the personality that comes out of the coaches in the expectations of maybe people that follow the game. I coach this game with tremendous energy and an intent to play with extraordinary discipline.
And so, whether that’s something that…you take a look back and look at how we handle the football—do we take care of the ball? Are we doing things right on the football field? Do we practice with intent? Do we do all of the things that it takes to make a good football team come together? You’re going to see all of that. If there’s a difference, how could we possible have won all of the championships we have won in the last seven, eight years—you guys know the numbers better than I do—if we weren’t a disciplined program, if we didn’t play the game well, if we didn’t do the things that it takes to play great football? When I was in New England, I was 27-21. That’s not a bad record there. We didn’t quite get it done, but it was a time when…I was still developing how to put our process together. I think it’s exceedingly farther along than it was at that time, and I’m thrilled to bring it. I think when you watch our play, you’re going to forget about what happened and whatever you think about from the old days.”
On how and when this job all started coming together for him…
“In the past nine years…of all of the speculation, you would think that I was talking five or six times a year. Never happened. I’ve talked to three or four teams in earnest in nine years. And in each situation, they’ve presented an opportunity that, to me, sounded like it was different than the normal format for a head coach coming into the league. None of those situations was like the situation [that] has been presented here. This is exactly the format and the makeup of the job as I have envisioned it, and when that came to life, it was clear that this was a very, very serious opportunity. And so, in short order, with a couple phone calls and a big meeting on Sunday, we were able to put this thing together. It comes from a very clear delivery of what this organization is all about and what they wanted to do. I thought Tod did a fantastic job, and Lance Lopes when we had a chance to visit, did a fantastic job in giving me the representation from the owner of what they expected here, and it fit perfectly. So when the job was presented and I had a chance to sign a contract, there was no question in my mind that this was something that I wanted to do.”
On whether it was a process that took a matter of days rather than weeks…
“Yeah, we’re just talking a matter of days, but Sunday was the big day for us. When we got together and sat down and really got serious about what it was all going to come together like, it was very clear this was something I couldn’t pass up.”
On how he and general manager will work together…
“As we enter this process right now to find the GM that’s going to fit with the Seahawks, there’ll be a collaboration in the process of figuring that out. There’ll be a collaboration on figuring out what is the best format for us to put it together. The guys that will be interviewed, that are on the list right now, have varied backgrounds. They have varied degrees of experience and expertise, and as we put it together, we want to do the thing as well as we can possibly do it. We want to do it right. So, to do that, we’ve got to see who the guy is, and then figure out how we’re going to fit it together. As we do that, I think it’s exactly the best way to pull out the strengths and the special aspects that the candidates have. Then we’ll figure out how that works from there.”
On how this position is different than his position in New England…
“Than the New England job? Let me not even compare it that. Let me compare it to what I’ve just come from, where you have an organization where the people absolutely believe in who you are and what you’re all about, and they want you to take your philosophy and embrace the entire organization with it—that’s what this is. They have embraced my approach and the way I see things and the way I want to do stuff, in a manner that they want to wipe the path clear and give me the clearest opportunity to bring everything I have to offer. That’s really what I was looking for. It was the trust and the belief from the top of the organization.
They don’t have an agenda of how they want their football played. They want me to do that. That’s exactly and precisely what I was looking for. And I have to trust that, and I do. We have great people. The message has been absolutely clear. There is no question in my mind where we’re going and what we’re doing and how we’re going to go about it, and that’s what was necessary. In other situations around the league, and as guys get jobs around the league, there isn’t always that level of communication from the top down, and there isn’t always that willingness to give you the opportunity to do exactly what you feel and how you can express your abilities. That’s what I’ve been given here.
I can’t tell you how excited I am about that. That is what I had at SC, and it is where I found my best success, was when I had the kinds of opportunities to factor into all aspects of it, and there was one single voice about what the football was going to be like, and there was one place to go, and one door to knock on for the players, they knew exactly who was calling the shots…That is what gives me the best chance to be the best I can be. I was not going to go anywhere where I couldn’t put myself in that situation. I feel exactly comfortable and free to tell you that that’s how this is going to work.”
On whether that means that he will be the predominant voice in choosing personnel…
“We’re going to work that all out. We’re going to work that out with the lucky guy that gets to come to this organization. We’ll figure that out based on his background and what’s best for us. It’ll all be worked out. I have tremendous comfort in telling you that we’ll find the very best way to orchestrate that. How that will come out, you’ll find out in the next few days, when we can get this thing ironed out.”
On whether he’ll be bringing any coaches with him from USC…
“Well, first off, there will be some guys that I’ve worked with in the past. We’re putting the staff together now. This is a very critical time for us to race to get the guys that we need to compete for, but also take the time it takes to do this exactly right. You’ll see, in the next few days, as we release the guys coming.”
On leaving USC, and especially leaving as the football program is facing potential discipline from the NCAA…
“As far as leaving SC, there was never going to be a right time, whether we had won every game or whether we hadn’t. It was never going to be the perfect time. We had such a deep relationship with that whole community that surrounds that club, that team and the school, that it was always going to be hard. I mean, we put so much into and gave so much to it that it was going to be a difficult time.
The fact that it’s coming up now has nothing to do with anything outside of this glorious opportunity here to come to the Seahawks. There…is always going to be stuff. But there’s some stuff coming, questions about NCAA things and all that. You’ll see, when everything comes out, my involvement in all that. I’m not mentioned in any of those issues, and have been dealing with that for five years. In my mind, I’m very comfortable with it. If the University has to deal with it as time as comes…but they also feel very confident down there that everything’s going to work out very well, and that all of the facts and the truth will come out. We’ve contributed to all of that. I don’t feel like that’s even an issue in any way. There was no discourse down there. There’s some question about maybe there’s some kind of a feuding—there was none of that.
This is an opportunity that even the University couldn’t come up with anything to make a difference in my thinking, because this special opportunity to come to this competitive environment is so unique for me, I just had to come. I couldn’t pass it up.”
On the mentality he’ll bring to the Seahawks, and what he believes are realistic expectations for the team immediately…
“What we’re going to go about doing here, and in everybody that we’re dealing with in the organization, is we want to see how good somebody can be, whether they’re working downstairs or whether they’re working upstairs or whether they’re catching passes on the football field. We want to figure out a vision for every aspect of everybody that contributes to our effort. How good can they possibly be? And then once we figure out what that maximum is, then we’re going to work to make that vision come true for that individual. That’s how this thing works. It’s how my thinking works.
So, as we take over, if you look at it in a broader sense, how good can we be here in Seattle? That’s what we have to figure out: how good can we believe that we can be? What is the vision for this? And in that, then we work to it in every way that we can. What comes with that is the process of extending your expectations, and extending your visions of what you can do as a player and a performer and a coach and an administrator and on and on. That’s what’s so exciting to me, and I have a chance to embrace this organization and see if we can all buy into that, orchestrate that we all can understand that we’re going to take this to a level that it’s never been before. And in that, it’s going to take time. This is not something that you snap your fingers and it changes. This is about relationships. This is about envisioning. This is about working. This is about practicing and preparing to get this all done and put together.
You know, nobody’s asked me, ‘How long is it going to take?’ I don’t know. I wish I could tell you. I don’t know that. But what I do know is [that] when we’re playing really good football—when we start to do things right, things that we can count on, when we’re maximizing our players’ input and what they can do, and using the special qualities of our quarterbacks and our receivers and our rushers and all that—then we start to get close to figuring out where we can go.
And so I can’t wait. I’m not waiting for three or four years to figure this out. I’m going right now. But how long it takes, I don’t know. This process that comes together between the players and the coaches is most critical, and this relationship that has to take place. Hopefully we can do something in great fashion and you’ll see it.”
On being labeled a ‘players’ coach’…
“That label, ‘players’ coach,’ has been one that’s been out there for a long time. It carries different connotations for different people. I don’t mind it, except for when the people use it against you, they think you’re a players’ coach so you’re no good.
What has to happen in our organization is we have to have communication. We have to be able to get to the point where we understand the talent that we’re dealing with, the players that we’re dealing with. It is most important that I know who Aaron Curry is, and know what he’s all about, so that I can figure him out, so…that I can position myself so that I can help him be the best he can be.
Whatever it takes to get that done is what I’m willing to do. I could care less if these guys like me. I could care less if they have this fun-and-games relationship with their coach, whatever you want to think the ‘players’ coach’ designation is all about. It’s about communication, and I’ve got to make myself available to figure out who they are and what they’re all about to help them be the very best they can be. If that’s what being a players’ coach is, I don’t know, then maybe that’s what that is.”
On whether he thinks being a ‘players’ coach’ will work in the NFL…
“When players came back for the last nine years to our organization back at SC, they’d come to us and I’d always stick them in front of the players because I wanted our players to hear from those guys in the league so that they would understand what the experience is like, to try to help them picture what they were going to get into eventually down the road. And the players would always come back and say, ‘It’s a business. You don’t understand. It’s not what you think it was going to be like. It’s totally different.’ They’ll tell them stuff like that. That’s something that, as I heard that, is a challenge to me. I heard that as a challenge if I ever was back in that situation, to create the relationship with the players where you could draw out of them the best they have to offer.
I don’t think you do that by not communicating with people. I don’t think you do that at a distance. I think you do that by figuring out where they can go, who they are, what they have to offer, what’s special about them, and then bring that to life.
So, is there a difference? I don’t think there needs to be a difference.
What happens in the NFL is guys get older, and they get a little bit more of an opinion of what the world is all about—their world, the football world, what’s best for them. That’s something that you deal with, and that’s just a natural process that happens for guys as they go through the league. We have to grow together to help guys understand how that can work against them, how that doesn’t always suit them, and it doesn’t always help them stay clear about what’s really important. What’s important in playing football on any level—from Pop Warner to the NFL—is working hard, and guys have to stay in connection with that. So whatever I can do to help guys understand that and stay with that is what’s important.
Is there a difference between talking to a 20-year-old kid or a 24-year-old kid or a 34-year-old kid? I don’t think so, unless you don’t understand that they grow, and they expand their vision. They have more opinion, more sense of the world that’s around them. I have no problem with that. I’m not worried about embracing that in any way.
I’m an old guy. I look back, I was a young coach before. I’m not a young coach anymore. I think I’ve got an ability to go back to these guys and help them find their best. As long as a football player knows that you’re helping him get what he wants and be what he thinks he can be, they’re going to listen, and that’s what we need to do. That’s why communicating is so important. Maybe that’s different than how the rest of the league runs. I don’t care. I don’t know how to do it any other way. That’s the way we’re going to do it.”
On whether he’ll change anything about his style or approach from the last time he was in the NFL…
“Fourteen years ago, or thirteen years ago, I took the job at New England. Thirteen years ago. Seasons and seasons and seasons have gone by. Experiences have come and gone. Players, some of the greatest players in our program are some of the greatest players in the NFL right now. You go back to Carson Palmer and Troy Polamalu and all those guys that we started off with, all the way to the 60 guys that have been drafted…I think there’s 48 guys or something in the league right now that just came out of our program in the last few years. So it’s an amazing amount of guys that we’ve dealt with. I’ve grown through this experience.
I know so much more clearly where I’m coming from than I did then. I was not at my best in New York, I can’t tell you how far away I was then from where I am right now. I was not at my best in New England. I think the Seahawks have benefited from the facts of what I’ve been through and what I’ve gone through. I don’t have any problems going to the league and going to these players and helping them be the best they can possibly be. I have no problem with that.
The challenges of it? It is a little bit different in the format. We get to coach these guys so much more. We get to be around them so much more. There’s no compliance office. It’s just a different deal, you know? So I’m not the same. Hopefully I’m better. From the experiences I’ve had and the great challenges that we’ve lived with, the mindset of being a champion for so many years, and being on the top for so long, is something that transforms you somewhat in the way you look at things and your expectations and what you expect from the people around you. I can’t wait to bring that to our club.”
On what it’s like to be coaching in the same city as Steve Sarkisian…
“I think it’s great. I talked to Sark last night, and I can’t wait for us to get together. I love Steve Sarkisian. I love what he stands for and what he has brought to this program. I just frickin’ hate that they beat us last year. Other than that, I love Sark. So it’s great. We will collaborate. We’ll work together. I’m going to help him as much as I can with their program. My heart will always be at SC, so there’ll always be an edge that I’ll hold back, but the relationship will be deep and we’ll have a great time with this. We’re thrilled to be running the football programs in this town, I promise you.”
On the players now potentially facing a third offensive and defensive system in as many years…
“That’s a real challenge for the coach: do you want to stay with the system to help the players along, or do you want to do what you’re best at? What we need to do as coaches is do what we are best equipped to bring to this program, and in that, there are going to be some changes. There are going to be some transitions. But, to try to suit it for the players right now, is not to put us in the best position to bring the best coaching that we have. So there’ll be likely a lot of commonality on what just happened defensively, and the background and the lineage of what’s happened here defensively in the last year really does fit very well to where I come from. We go way back in the system, and that lineage is common. On the other side of the ball, it’s going to change. It’s going to shift.”
On what he thinks he didn’t know when he was in New York and New England that he knows now…
“That’s a great question. I didn’t know who the heck I was as a football coach. Everybody has a philosophy, you just may not know how to describe what it is. You’re living your life, you’re doing your thing, you’re doing your work, you have a way of doing things. But what transformed for me, before getting to USC—between New England and SC—was really, I had an epiphany of what was most important to me as a football coach.
In that process of putting those thoughts together, it kind of just solidified a mentality and an approach that now has been put in practice for ten years. I feel like I’m bringing a very, very clear message to our football team when we get in our meeting room. When we start this thing off, they’re going to know where I’m coming from, because I know where I’m coming from.
The whole challenge here is to get the whole organization on the same page, everybody understands where we’re coming from, what we’re all about, where we’re going, what we’re doing. I didn’t know that then. I didn’t know it. And I’m almost embarrassed to tell you that I was coaching an NFL club and I didn’t have my act together. But you have to figure it out. You have to go through the process. I’d challenge anybody to stand up right here and tell me what your philosophy is … It’s hard to do that. We’re going to do things better than it’s ever been done before in everything that we’re doing. That’s the line that we live with. That is the principle. I’m a competitor. Competition is going to be the central theme in this program, and on and on and on. And as I deliver our message and what we’re all about to our club, they’re going to be extremely clear. It’s my job to make them clear and understand the coaches, the administration, all the way down through, so that we can be on the same page.
The whole idea here, is to maximize all that we have available and bring it to where we can perform at our very best. That’s the whole deal. And that’s what I have to get done in this process. The sooner that the players will give in and start listening, and not fight the new stuff, and not challenge us about the new system, and want to know, ‘Hey, maybe we should do it this way,’ the sooner they start listening and giving themselves to us, the faster we’ll move.
And so, that’s what I didn’t have. I didn’t have that mentality. And unfortunately, I don’t think anybody can operate at their optimum until you get there. It’s what I’ve preached for every individual guy and every coach, to draw out the very best they have to offer. Well, you can’t do that if you don’t know what the very best you have is. So we have to get through that process, self-discovery, and then bring it to live, and then make sense of it so that you can help people around you go.”
On how important it was to him to get back into the NFL after he ‘figured himself out’…
“Well, in the years that I was in the NFL, I was an NFL guy. I’d coached in college for like, 10 or 11 years, and then I went through the League, and in 16 years of it, I became an NFL guy. We did everything in the same exact vein—the same terminology, the same conceptual approach, tactical approach—at USC that we will do right now. That’s not changing at all, because it’s the best I have to offer in our football.
So, throughout that process, I’ve always held in my mind that the NFL is the highest level of competition. It’s where all of the resources come together. It is the best athletes, the best coaches, the best of the best, and that’s the best place to compete if you’re a competitor. That’s why…I was looking to see, was there ever a chance to fit it together? There wasn’t. It wasn’t right, because I couldn’t sit up here and talk to you like I’m telling you now how clearly I get to express what I have to offer.
Now I do. This is the time. This is our opportunity. I can’t tell you how that makes me feel, to have this chance now, at the pinnacle of the competitive environment, and I get to work with it and go for it. So, yeah, it was always in my mind. I loved coaching in college. College football is awesome. The whole environment around the college mentality, the workplace, being in a university setting, all of that is extraordinary. This is a little bit different. This is the League. This is the NFL. I couldn’t be more pumped about bringing it. Let’s see how far we can take it.”
On how he’ll decide which players will stay and which will go…
“Yeah. We have to draw from all of the resources that we have, all of the people that are here, all of the information, the film that we have. As swiftly as we can get through that, we’ll start to evaluate and make our assessments. And then from there, we’ll put it together with what comes up in free agency, what happens in the draft, and then we go to work at it. It’s just a long, arduous process…and the evaluation process never ends, you know?
We start and we go and we just keep working at it. It’s something that we adapted to our way we recruited in college—you just keep looking at the guys, and you keep looking and looking and looking until you’ve just figured out every single thing that you can get out of…the information that’s available to you. And then you assess what you have. We’re not going to rush into anything. We’re going to take our time, we’re going to do this right, we’re going to work forever to get this done so that we can make the right choices.
Will we make all the right choices? I’d like to say, yeah. It’s going to be a challenge. This isn’t like a 100% science here. There’s going to be some plus or minus here, but we got to make more great decisions than we don’t, and it’s just a long, hard process. It’s going to take us everybody that has something to offer this, from the scouts to the coaches all the way throughout. The information is enormous here. Everything that somebody does counts. Everything that a player does, they tell us things, and we’ve got to watch and listen and be a student of that, and all the information I can draw out in the same manner is how we go about gathering what we need to make those kinds of choices. We’ll do it with great care.”
On how much he knows about the Xs and Os of the current Seahawks systems, and based on what he’s seen from their film, what kind of mountain they have to climb to start winning again…
“Not as much as I would like. I haven’t had time to do that. I’m not even going to go there. I’d be remiss, because I don’t have enough information right now.
I know that we have a quarterback that has played really good football in his career. He’s feeling pretty good. He’s bouncing back from a sore shoulder during the season. He’s ready to go. That is one of the key elements of putting together a team that has a chance to win right away. You’ve got to have a quarterback. So I know that we have a first-class guy, Matt, and I can’t wait to get working with him.
There’s a lot of strengths, and there’s some issues we have to deal with, that we’ll deal with in time. But the NFL is a quarterback-driven process, and so the fact that we have Matt Hasselbeck here is a big factor to me. He’s played the game, he’s been a champion, he knows how to get the thing done. We’ve got to get his support group and his play to the level that gives us a chance to play great football.”
On whether he’s okay with having a 34-year-old quarterback…
“Yeah. I’m thrilled that he’s got that background and experience. He’s not banged up. He said he’s really healthy.”
On the lessons from his father about not looking back…
“It’s as simple as…you take the job, you take the challenge, and you never look over your shoulder…and you make the decision a great decision. My pop told me that a long time ago, and it couldn’t be more true in this situation right now. Anybody on the back end of it that’s wondering, I’m not looking back. I’m only looking to the future. By the way we approach it, we’ll make something happen in a special manner.”
On the report that Alex Gibbs will join his coaching staff…
“I haven’t talked to Alex yet today, but if that comes together, it’ll be one of the great achievements in our early process of putting this thing together. He’s a fantastic football coach and I can’t wait to get out of here so I can go call him and see where we are in that.
On whether he’ll keep any of the current coaches on staff…
“There’s some tremendous coaches here in the program. As we put this thing together, we’re going to go through and evaluate everybody as best we can and try to make the right choices. This is an extremely difficult time in the coaching world with families involved and kids involved and the whole thing, and with great care, we’ll try to work our way through this. Just in leaving the program at SC, and meeting with the coaching staff yesterday, it’s a tremendously difficult time, and a challenging time for everyone. So, with great care and hard work, we’ll move through this and try to make great decisions. There are some excellent coaches here.”
On whether there is an advantage to hiring a head coach before a GM…
“Yeah, I think there’s a real positive in it: I get to be involved in it. [Laughs.] I like it a lot, as a matter of fact. Well, as we said, we’re going to work it out with the candidates that are here and with the different levels of experience and backgrounds they have, we’ll put this thing together in a way that will hopefully maximize—no, it will maximize—what we bring to the organization. We’re going to do that exactly the right way.”
On whether he has any personal relationships with the current coaches…
“Sure, yeah. There are guys that I’ve worked with in a couple different settings and stuff. That’s all part of the information that we have, to deal with and all, and it won’t work out for everybody, and this is a very difficult business. In that, I wish the guys the very best if we can’t work together. If we can, we’ll put together something really unique and special here. Hey, thank you very much for having me. It’s a blast to be a Seahawk.”