SEATTLE - OCTOBER 30: Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks watches the game against the Cincinnati Bengals on October 30, 2011 at Century Link Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Say what you will about his methods. The bottom line is that they're effective.
Before Seahawks coach Pete Carroll came to Seattle there were three certainties in life: death, taxes, and top-10 recruiting classes at USC. According to Scout.com, Carroll never once failed to bring in a top-10 class and finished with the top class in the country three times in four years.
Carroll was a recruiting machine, bringing in the Reggie Bush's, Mark Sanchez's and others who would make the Trojans one of college football's great modern dynasties. It was pretty clear that Carroll knew how to communicate with athletes; knew how to make them see his vision.
Fast forward to 2012. Carroll and his general manager John Schneider have made Seattle a free-agent destination, without a single winning season in Seattle. Recruiting is all about selling your program to the elite recruits and finding diamonds in the rough through player evaluation and the Seahawks have done both exceptionally well.
Coveted studs such as Matt Flynn, Sidney Rice, Brandon Mebane, Robert Gallery, Zach Miller, Red Bryant and Marshawn Lynch have bought what Carroll was selling, and he's shown his ability in the evaluating side of recruiting as well, finding production from previously unheralded or unknown players such as Mike Williams, Chris Clemons, Brandon Browner and even Doug Baldwin.
There's a never-ending debate as to the merits of hiring college head coaches into the NFL. "The game is different," it's often said, which may be true. But the game within the game, the art of building a program is surprisingly similar.
Both require more sales than X's and O's, they require convincing elite football players to trust the coach with their careers. Sure, USC always recruits well and Carroll had a lot of ammo to throw at recruits regarding USC's tradition, facilities, and the city of Los Angeles.
But Seattle has a lot going for it as well. It's got top-notch facilities, the best fans in the NFL and a local media that isn't as intense and abrasive as in other, larger cities.
The recruiting skills Carroll has brought over from his time at USC have helped the Seahawks upgrade in talent at nearly every position from when Jim Mora was let go, and if Seattle continues to recruit at this pace, the Seahawks might start looking, and playing, like those USC teams filled with Carroll recruits.