When Pete Carroll left the college ranks to take over the Seattle Seahawks, he did so shortly before the USC Trojans were hammered by NCAA sanctions.
Many people believed he left in part because sanctions were coming down. But in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Carroll said if he'd known the sanctions were coming he "would have stayed" to help USC.
"The truth was, an opportunity came up and it was one I couldn't turn away from," Carroll said. "The NCAA came back at the university ... 'Now we're going to revisit after five years.' I had no knowledge that was coming. We thought maybe it wasn't coming because they didn't have anything to get us with. It wasn't five days, it wasn't five weeks. It was five years.
"Had we known that that was imminent … I would never have been able to leave under those circumstances. When I look back now, I would have stayed there to do what we needed to do to resolve the problem."
Whether or not you believe Carroll is irrelevant. He took the Seahawks job and molded that franchise into his vision and, just like he did at USC, won a title.
He's the youngest-looking 62-year-old you'll ever see and it's not hard to imagine him winning another title during his run in Seattle.
But thinking about Carroll staying at USC during a severe time of turmoil and working through their problems instead of taking over in Seattle is a fascinating case of NFL "what if."