Carroll's grilling required a spot on a more serious sports journalism channel, HBO. Andrea Kremer used that segment of Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel to confront Carroll with the truth -- that for such massive violations to happen with his best player, he either (A) knew about Bush's car and house or (B) didn't want to know. When it was over, Carroll was whining to Kremer: "It's easy for you to ask these questions in this manner right now. Matt Leinart was our best player -- he was the Heisman Trophy winner."
So was Bush. In 2005. But that's not a convenient truth for Carroll, so he avoids it. He would rather promote a book that celebrates his "proven system of success ... a coaching philosophy" that included welcoming murderous alum O.J. Simpson to practice and masterminding the Halloween prank of 2005. That was the time Carroll faked an argument with running back LenDale White, causing White to run away from practice and climb onto a nearby roof -- where he dived to his death (White actually threw a dummy wearing his No. 21 jersey off the four-story building).
That's leadership right there. "Creepy Forever."
Carroll defends everything from the team-building nature of that prank -- suicide humor kills 'em every time! -- to his lack of culpability in the Reggie Bush fiasco. When HBO's Kremer asked him if he had ever seen the car Bush received illegally as a sophomore, Carroll said he had but explained it away: "It was a Chevy," he said. True. But it was a tinted, tricked-out ride snazzy enough to be featured on the cover of a car magazine.
To Carroll, it was just a Chevy. "Rationalize Forever."
Source: NCAA infractions committee report on USC expected to come this week.
Seriously, at this point, the only way USC could even theoretically look more guilty is if they decided to write a book titled, "If I Did It." And since when did counting the proverbial cash become considered as "paperwork"?
Former UCLA tailback DeShaun Foster was involved in a similar situation in 2001 and ended up sitting out the Bruins' final three games. UCLA was proactive in cooperating once the NCAA made the school aware of a possible "extra benefits" violation — also involving a player's use of an SUV.
UCLA did not face further punishment from the NCAA, but USC could be viewed differently because the school already is under investigation.
"Regardless of the timeout that UCLA took, Coach Carroll should have taken the high road. Does he realize that he has one of the most popular college football teams in the nation and all of our young, impressionable high school football players will think that it's OK to pile up the score and then dance around like a fool afterward. Did you see him looking around for validation of his decision? He can't even look himself in the eye, but he can at [Stanford Coach Jim] Harbaugh.
"It didn't surprise me at all. As a head coach of an NFL team, I seem to remember him giving the "choke" sign to the kicker of an opposing team after a miss before a national TV audience."
"I wouldn't do it," Huntington Beach Edison Coach Dave White said. "What goes around, comes around. To me, it made USC look bad."
Added Mission Hills Alemany Coach Dean Herrington: "I would never have done that."
(Pete Carroll's) the perfect fit for USC because he knows how to attract future NFL talent. Does he know how to coach it, how to maximize it? No. He does not.
P.S. I hope he adjusts to the pay cut, coming to the NFL from USC.
[H]e's (Rick Neuheisel) got UCLA fans starting to froth. After all, they point out, in his second year at Colorado, Neuheisel went 10-2. In his second year at Washington, he went 11-1. And yes, he went 4-8 in his first year at UCLA, but Carroll went 6-6 in his first at USC.
Plus, Neuheisel is nearly 10 years younger than Carroll. He plays the guitar, likes to go inner-tubing down rivers, recruits players and boosters and media like he's on an amphetamine drip. "There's 13 million people in L.A. and no pro football! There's room for both of us!"
Then again, Carroll, 57, looks 37. He runs patterns -- often for an hour -- after practice. He makes 2 a.m. sojourns into the center of the Crips-Bloods gang wars to talk peace and hope. He runs a funnel for great high school players straight to the NFL, with 56 draftees so far. With his long hair facing some permanent unseen wind machine, his mug ever-tan, the man is a fountain of cool.
So how does Wonder Boy plan to topple all that?
Maybe this is how: Last year, the two bumped into each other at Inglewood High School, recruiting the same player. The story goes that Carroll said to Neuheisel, "The UCLA coach is out recruiting an L.A. kid? Crazy."
To which Neuheisel said, "Won't be the last," and walked away.
Reel, reel, reel.