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Originally published January 8, 2010 at 10:40 AM | Page modified January 9, 2010 at 3:54 PM

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Hawks poised to hire USC's Pete Carroll

According to ESPN, an agreement has been reached in principle to make Carroll the coach and president in Seattle.

Seattle Times staff reporter


Hawks reportedly would pay $47 million for firing Jim Mora and hiring Pete Carroll as president and coach:

$12 million:

Owed to Mora over three years

$35 million:

Contract for Carroll over five years


A deal to make USC's Pete Carroll the next coach of the Seahawks is down to semantics at this point.

According to ESPN, an agreement has been reached in principle to make Carroll the coach and president in Seattle.

Indications from the Seahawks are that nothing is done and the two sides will talk again in the next day or two.

But all the prerequisites for a deal are in place after the Seahawks interviewed Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator on Saturday morning. Frazier is African-American, and the league hiring protocols require NFL teams to interview a minority candidate for a head-coaching job in the NFL, referred to as the Rooney Rule.

At this point, the exact timing of an agreement is more a matter of semantics because an agreement with Carroll appears more a matter of time.

Frazier's interview occurred only after the Seahawks clarified the perspective interest in Carroll with the Fritz Pollard Alliance, the group that monitors compliance with the Rooney Rule.

"Our position is that they laid out to us that have been in conversation with Pete Carroll, which they have every right to do," said John Wooten, chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance.

However, Wooten said the Seahawks had to clarify the role Carroll may fill with the organization and he was told by the Seahawks that Carroll's potential role would be just like "most" of the coaches in the league.

"Here was their statement to us," Wooten said, "if Pete Carroll does in fact accept the job and is in fact the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks he will not be in charge of football operations."

Those football operations would encompass final say over trades, draft picks and other personnel decisions. The extent of Carroll's final say would not go beyond the 53-man roster.

The Seahawks introduced Jim Mora as Seattle's prodigal son, someone the franchise regarded so highly it appointed him head coach a year in advance.

Mora was fired Friday morning after a single season, the shortest tenure of any coach in franchise history.

"I was extremely shocked," Mora said in a telephone interview.

Just as shocking? The man the Seahawks have targeted to replace him: Carroll of USC.

Carroll has become one of the most successful coaches in Pac-10 history, and he appears headed to the Seahawks to be more than just the head coach.

The Los Angeles Times reported that while nothing was signed, an agreement was close between the Seahawks and Carroll on a five-year contract worth $7 million per year that would make Carroll both coach and president.

Attempts to reach Carroll were unsuccessful, and Carroll's agent, Gary Uberstine, did not return phone messages from The Seattle Times.

Tod Leiweke, CEO of the Seahawks, also could not be reached, but indications from the Seahawks were that nothing had been finalized with anyone for either the Seahawks' vacancy atop its football operations or the head-coaching spot.

Seattle must interview at least one minority candidate before hiring a new head coach, according to NFL hiring protocols. The Seahawks requested to interview Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, who is African-American. There were conflicting reports Friday on whether he would choose to interview for the position.

Carroll has coached USC the past nine seasons, winning two national championships and having seven seasons of 11 wins or more. This season was the Trojans' least successful since Carroll's first year, and USC could be facing NCAA sanctions in the near future.

Carroll's college career came after a pair of NFL failures, first with the New York Jets and then with the New England Patriots. He went to the Patriots in 1997, inheriting a team coming off a Super Bowl appearance, but won progressively fewer games the next three seasons before he was fired.

Carroll's career record as an NFL head coach is 33-31 for regular-season games, 1-2 in the playoffs.

Mora has the same number of seasons as an NFL head coach and a comparable record. He is 31-33 in the regular season, with a mark of 1-1 in the playoffs.

Mora's dismissal came without much warning, despite a 5-11 record in 2009.

Just three days ago, he conducted his final news conference of the 2009 season and said that while he hadn't explicitly been told he would be returning, he wasn't worried about it.

But on Friday morning, Mora met with Leiweke, who informed Mora he would not be returning.

"It became apparent after conducting an extensive internal audit, that a new direction was needed to provide an opportunity for the organization to be successful," Leiweke said in the team's announcement of the firing.

That marked a turnaround from Leiweke's statement five weeks ago that he "fully expected" Mora to be retained after it was announced Tim Ruskell was out as Seahawks president.

But Seattle went 1-4 after that announcement, losing its final four games — three of them in lopsided fashion.

Mora came to Seattle in 2007 as an assistant coach, choosing that over a chance to become the New York Giants' defensive coordinator. He was also considered for Miami Dolphins head coach that offseason. In 2008, he interviewed with the Washington Redskins, and after he withdrew from consideration, he officially agreed to become the successor to Mike Holmgren.

Friday's decision to dismiss Mora was the equivalent of the Seahawks hitting the reset button after Seattle finished with fewer than six victories for the second successive season.

Mora held his first news conference as Seahawks head coach on Jan. 13, 2009. Less than a year later he is out, the only head coach in franchise history to have a tenure shorter than three years. Mora had three years and $12 million remaining on his contract.

"Today's decision, while difficult, is part of the process in building a franchise with a new vision in 2010," Leiweke said.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or

"I know I'm a good football coach. I've taken a team to the NFC Championship game. I came into this year with a winning record in the NFL.

I would have expected that I would have gotten more than one year to try and turn this thing around."

"Today's decision, while difficult, is part of the process

in building a franchise

with a new vision in 2010."

Tod Leiweke

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