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Diner morning news: Now comes the domino effect

Carroll goes to Seattle with a new confidence, but what happens next? Michael Lombardi

Print This January 12, 2010, 11:00 AM EST

QUOTE: “The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” -- Plutarch

The season of change continues in the NFL, where one move can have a domino effect. As Pete Carroll heads to Seattle, does this mean Jack Del Rio will head to USC and then Mike Mularkey of the Falcons will go to Jacksonville? All speculation at this point with the exception of Carroll going to the Northwest, but nonetheless, one move does mean two more might happen. First, let’s examine Carroll’s move to Seattle.

The time had finally come for Carroll to leave USC after flirting for years with several NFL teams. The lure of working for one of the richest men in the world in a beautiful city surrounded by water and being paid handsomely were factors in making the decision. But more than any tangible reasons, timing played the most important role. The time was right. Some may speculate that he was running from possible sanctions at USC, and some may say he lost his edge in college football, but I say the competitor in Pete Carroll finally took over. He had unfinished business in the NFL, and he wants to prove to himself that he can win at any level.

Carroll is a much different coach than he was nine years ago when he left New England. He’s filled with confidence this time-- confidence from dominating the college football scene and building a successful program, but mostly confidence from taking over a program and proving the many naysayers wrong. Carroll walked into USC with much skepticism surrounding his hire. Initially, he was not well received because of his quirky behavior and his previous failures with the Jets and Patriots. The prevailing feeling around the USC campus was that Carroll would probably be no different than his predecessors, Ted Tollner, Larry Smith and Paul Hackett. And his first-year record of 6-6 and loss to Utah in a bowl game gave his skeptics a strong case.

However, Carroll installed his up-tempo competitive program and changed college football. He was able to blend the pro game into the college game, using his vast background in defensive football to install the zone blitz scheme and attacking opponents’ pass protections, thus building a dominating defense. He forced many colleges around the country to examine the pro game as an alternative to finding head coaches. He also forced many of the major schools to change their schemes and find ways to imitate his defense. He was a trendsetter. He forced change and forced new thinking. He didn’t go to college to stop coaching as many had done before, but rather to improve his ability to coach. Carroll’s confidence comes from knowing his program works, and this will benefit the Seahawks.

As author Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his book “Outliers,” any successful person must spend 10,000 hours working on his craft, and Carroll is living proof this theory works. He used his time at USC to improve himself, work on his craft and build a powerhouse. Now, he walks into the Seahawks building as a new coach, not the one who left New England and not just a college coach, but rather a successful coach. Carroll is curious, and that curiosity will allow him to understand the problems that need to be fixed and give him new ways to fix them. I have no doubt Carroll will be successful.

As for Del Rio in Jacksonville, I’ve been writing for the past two weeks how unhappy everyone in the Jaguars organization is with his treatment of others, his people skills and his inability to connect with the community. But as is often the case, money is the only reason this relationship has continued. However, if Del Rio is able to secure the USC job, it might be a way out of Jacksonville -- but he will still have a problem, again related to money. USC is not going to pay Del Rio $5 million a year, so there will be a sizable gap, and Jags owner Wayne Weaver might be willing to make up the difference.

Now, Weaver would love for Del Rio to resign and walk away from $15 million, but that won’t happen. So he needs to be a deal maker and find common ground once Del Rio has the USC job. Weaver must decide if he’s willing to pay $15 million and keep a coach he doesn’t like or pay, say, $5 million to rid himself of the coach. Either way, Weaver is going to have to spend money to make Del Rio go away.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

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