Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks agreed to an extension late Thursday night, according to reports. Details of the extension have yet to be announced, though presumably Carroll will be earning several more years and a lot more money off his former contract. That Carroll received an extension isn't surprising at all. Teams tend to take care of their Super Bowl winning coaches. In Carroll's case, he could become the highest paid coach in football.
Carroll was already the fourth-highest paid. The $7 million he made annually off the five-year, $35 million contract he signed in 2010 put Carroll behind only Andy Reid ($7.5 million), Bill Belichick ($7.5 million) and Sean Payton ($8 million) in the salary pecking order. Carroll has a dominant -- and perhaps more importantly, young -- team with which he has a strong rapport. As long as it can keep its nucleus together, Seattle appears primed to keep winning into the foreseeable future.
Carroll had his critics when he jumped from USC to Seattle in 2010. He won extensively with the Trojans, but left the program with a threat of NCAA sanctions looming over Los Angeles. His track record in the NFL, meanwhile, wasn't sterling. Caroll was fired after one season as the New York Jets' head coach in 1994, and again in 1999 after three seasons as the New England Patriots' head coach. He was considered something of a radical -- too peppy for the pro game, which places Business before Fun in most circumstances.
But Carroll's loose cannon reputation is based almost solely on the fact that he actually seems to enjoy himself on the field. If the way his teams play football is any indication, Carroll is about as old school as any man can be. The Seahawks won a championship this past February by crafting an elite defense that played with ratcheted physicality, especially in the secondary. The offense was run-heavy and risk adverse -- Seattle had the second-most rush attempts this season, behind Buffalo. Neither unit was particularly complex. Spencer Hall explained just before the Super Bowl:
Carroll has more years in the league, had more head coaching experience coming back into the league, and has something even Mike Smith didn't even have prior to his hiring in Seattle: the irresistible scent of an NFL retread. Carroll's base defenses are a 4-3 under and a modified Cover 3. By the numbers and by playbook, Carroll is the same bland sedan everyone else in the NFL drives, albeit with a few hacked details that make all the difference.
That difference is likability. Just before the Super Bowl, NFL players anonymously and overwhelmingly voted Carroll as the most popular head coach in the league. He earned 23 percent of the vote, or 320 votes more than Mike Tomlin, who was the league's second-most popular coach at 14 percent of the vote. Carroll's high approval rating is due to more than his positive attitude, as Seahawks linebacker and team captain Heath Farwell explained:
"If you make a mistake, he uses that as a teachable moment," Farwell said. "Pete explains what you did wrong and how you can correct. If you do something wrong, he will say that's not acceptable by the organization and explain why."
Carroll knows the game. In a 2007 profile for Los Angeles Magazine, J.R. Moehringer described Carroll's words as "Joycean ... composed of Xs and Os and arrows." Danny Kelly of SB Nation's Seahawks blog Field Gulls broke down Seattle's secondary (known affectionately as the Legion of Boom) prior to the Super Bowl and noted Carroll's imprint, a former defensive back and DB coach himself, on the unit -- "highly managed, meticulously taught, deliberately schemed technique."
Carroll's traits add up to the man who is considered one of the best coaches in the game. Fun, energetic, smart and competitive will apparently get you far in football. They took the Seahawks to unprecedented heights this past season, and for that, Seattle will make a Carroll even richer.