Scouting USC – Inside Pete Carroll


From my favorite USC site Trojan Football Analysis.

What he learned from John Wooden while out of coaching:

“It was a pretty profound moment — one thing in that book just hit me,” said Carroll, now entering his seventh season with the Trojans. “Coach Wooden talked about how it took him 17 years to win his first national championship, but when he figured it out he won 10 national championships in the next 11 years.

“It hit me because once he ‘got it,’ he had it down. That’s what I set out to accomplish.”

On the foundation of his philosophy:

Through his thought process, a main focus rose to the top — competition — and it’s been the foundation of the program ever since.

“When I really soul-searched, I realized that when it all came down to it, I was a competitor,” Carroll said. “That’s me, it’s what I’ve been my whole life. I had to be true to who I was, I couldn’t pretend to be someone or something I’m not. So the central theme had to be what I believed in and lived out in my life.”

On his three basic team rules:

At the first meeting of every spring and fall, Carroll lays out three rules for his team, which form the foundation for all actions and attitudes he expects his players to follow.

One, protect the team. Two, no whining, no complaining, no excuses. Three, be early.

“I really like the ‘three rules,’ because it makes everything very, very clear to our players and coaches,” Carroll said. “It’s another idea I got from Coach Wooden, and I’ve seen it work exceptionally well.”

On the importance of turnovers:

Carroll also emphasizes his motto, “It’s all about the ball.” Causing turnovers on defense and preventing them on offense are almost always the reason for a win or loss. The importance Carroll puts on the ball has developed the Trojans into what could arguably be called the best turnover team in the history of football, as the Trojans have a plus-94 turnover ratio in the last six years.

“When you force a lot of turnovers and don’t give the ball up, you’re putting yourself in position to win every game,” Carroll said. “If you make the game all about what you can control, then the outcome is essentially in your hands every time.”

Accentuating the Positive:

Another key aspect to Carroll’s ideology is his emphasis on maintaining a positive attitude and approaching all challenges and triumphs as an opportunity to grow and get better. “Eliminate all negatives,” Carroll says.

“I learned from [former North Carolina State basketball coach] Jim Valvano that you should never allow for negatives,” Carroll said. “It doesn’t matter what the issue is or what the obstacle is, there are no negatives. And through that, you can look at everything as a special opportunity to improve, reflect on, or just sit back and enjoy.”

On Practice:

We practice fast and compete every minute so that our players will be more than ready for the game,” Carroll said. “What they see at practice is hopefully going to challenge us more than anyone else we’re going to play against.

“It’s simple: Compete and put in the effort at practice, and gameday will just fall into line.”

The Difference?

Focusing on taking games one play at a time, one series at a time, one quarter at a time — another important element to Carroll’s philosophy — is emphasized at practice, along with finishing every one of those plays, series, quarters to the very end. “Finish” has become a motto of the strength and conditioning program, as well as the team.

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