CBSSports.com National Columnist

Carroll's hubris highlights his 'Deny Forever' attitude

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Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is getting standing ovations in New York and San Diego. He's a rock star, winging his book like an ax. It's the Win Forever tour, and Carroll is going coast to coast to push a book whose title references his nine-year tenure at Southern California.

And this occurs to me:

Last month the NCAA decided USC didn't "Win Cleanly."

Pete Carroll won't admit it, but his legacy at Southern Cal has been tarnished by violations. (US Presswire)  
Pete Carroll won't admit it, but his legacy at Southern Cal has been tarnished by violations. (US Presswire)  
So a question occurs to me:

Does Pete Carroll have no shame?

And that answer is no, but that's not a surprise. When the NCAA leveled USC as hard as it has hit a high-profile program since crushing SMU with the death penalty in 1987, Carroll waited about 15 minutes to fire off a YouTube video where he claimed to be "absolutely shocked and disappointed" by the sanctions. His best player, Reggie Bush, was essentially the second-highest paid guy on campus behind Carroll, with cash and a car and luxury housing. But Carroll was "absolutely shocked and disappointed" by the sanctions. Which means Carroll is an idiot or a liar.

And he's not an idiot.

But he is shameless. Carroll couldn't wait five weeks for the ooze to dry on the NCAA sanctions -- "Probation Forever" -- before embarking on a national tour to hawk his book.

And fans, bless 'em, are lining up to buy autographed copies. Some of the money from book sales -- not every penny, as Carroll is encouraging the media to write, but "partial proceeds," according to the charity's website -- are going to his charity, A Better L.A., and that's noble. Really, it is. But there has to be a better way to raise money for the combination of Pete Carroll's charity and Pete Carroll's pocket than by trumpeting a football program that the NCAA just declared one of the sleaziest in decades.

Win Forever is the punch line to a joke that goes right over Pete Carroll's head. He's too busy trumpeting the motivational miracle of himself to see how inappropriate this whole thing is. His personal website is providing daily updates on his book tour, which started July 12 in New York -- NCAA sanctions were handed down June 10 -- and has kept a tally of his media interviews, up to 57, including a six-hour, 11-interview tour of ESPN's various platforms. ESPN calls that sort of tour "the carwash," ironic in that Carroll started the tour as the coach of the greasiest college football program since SMU ... and emerged from the carwash cleansed and waxed, the gleaming conquering hero of all things wrong with Los Angeles.

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."

In some ways, that's just Pete being Pete. He's the sunniest SOB on the planet, a chipper and California cool dude who made USC football the place to be for players, stars and starlets. Carroll is so laid back he didn't let a thing like George Steinbrenner's death get him down. Steinbrenner was rude enough to die on the day Carroll was touring ESPN's carwash -- "the agenda was thrown for a loop," according to his personal website. Problems? Not for Pete.

"Carroll rolled with the punches," according to Carroll's website, "and made his new book's presence known throughout ESPN headquarters."

What a relief.

Steinbrenner is dead, but Win Forever lives on. The book tour hits Los Angeles on Monday and Seattle on Wednesday. By then, a full six weeks will have passed since the NCAA decided that the era being immortalized by Carroll was rotten from decay. That's plenty long enough for Carroll, who lives by another credo.

"Deny Forever."


Gregg Doyel is a columnist for CBSSports.com. He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. He was 4-0 (3 KO's!) as an amateur boxer, and volunteers for the ALS Association. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.
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