After leading the Seattle Seahawks to a Super Bowl victory, Pete Carroll is living large in the NFL. His days at USC were among the most dominant in the nation under his watch, and now the university will induct Carroll in the athletics hall of fame.
USC announced the new hall of fame class via Twitter Monday, with Carroll serving as the headliner. Former Trojan football players Jack Del Rio (currently the Denver Broncos defensive coordinator), Jimmy Jones, Tim Rossovich and former coach Dave Levy will also be inducted. Jones was the first African-American quarterback to appear on a cover of Sports Illustrated.
USC finished in the top five of the final AP Top 25 in seven out of nine seasons under Carroll, and he coached three Heisman Trophy players (one of which was later vacated, of course). The Trojans were kings of college football, winning a BCS national championship and grabbing a pair Associated Press national championships along the way.
There is no question Carroll revitalized the once dominant power out on the west coast, and that deserves to be honored. Before his arrival, USC had finished a season ranked in the top 25 just three times between 1990 and 2001. During his time at USC, Carroll coached the Trojans to a record of 97-19 (adjusted by the NCAA to 83-19, which is still pretty darn impressive). That number includes a total of seven bowl victories, six of those coming in BCS bowl games. Carroll was undefeated in the Rose Bowl, aside from the year it served as the BCS Championship Game and Vince Young led Texas to a thrilling victory in a game for the ages. If USC was in a big game, they were often the favorite and more than often came out on top when the program was at its height under Carroll.
Of course, the legacy of the Carroll era took a hit in the later years once the NCAA stripped the program of victories and scholarships and slapped the program with a postseason ban as a result of former running back Reggie Bush receiving extra benefits. Carroll left USC after the 2009 season to accept a position as head coach of the Seattle Seahawks. Having done all he likely could have accomplished at the collegiate level, Carroll may have had a thirst for another crack at the NFL. That has obviously gone well, but the timing of his departure from USC raised some eyebrows at the time.
The Trojans being saddled with Lane Kiffin as a head coach did not help the cause, nor did the sanctions levied against the program. Carroll has defended the USC program in the wake of NCAA investigations and sanctions time and time again though, and he continues to say his leaving the program had nothing to do with the state of the program.
He probably won’t win the sport’s most important individual award, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson took home a nice consolation prize on Tuesday.
Watson was announced as the winner of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, given to the top senior or fourth-year junior quarterback in college football. A three-year starter for the Tigers, Watson has completed 775-of-1,115 career passes for 9,489 yards with 86 touchdowns against 30 interceptions while also adding 1,829 yards and 23 scores on the ground.
Most importantly, he’s led Clemson to back-to-back ACC championships and consecutive trips to the College Football Playoff. His 2nd-ranked Tigers will face No. 3 Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 31.
Watson was named a Heisman Trophy finalist on Monday for a season in which he’s thrown for 3,914 yards and 37 touchdowns.
Recent winners of the Unitas award are Colt McCoy, Andrew Luck, Marcus Mariota and, in 2015, Connor Cook. Watson will accept the honor at a ceremony in Baltimore on Friday night before jetting up for the Heisman ceremony on Saturday.
On Monday, Army displayed the World War II-themed uniforms the Black Knights will wear against Navy on Saturday.
On Tuesday, it was Navy’s turn.
With President-elect Donald Trump in attendance, the Midshipmen will put their 14-game winning streak on the line by channeling one of the best Navy teams of all-time — the 1963 bunch.
That 1963 team was led by Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach and finished the season ranked No. 2 in both polls, falling to No. 1 Texas in the Cotton Bowl.
The ’63 game remains one of the most memorable in the 116-year history of the game, played on the insistence of Jacqueline Kennedy amid talk of canceling the contest following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
And, oh by the way, Navy won that fabled game, 21-15.
Christian McCaffrey will declare for the NFL Draft, according to a report from Matt Miller of Bleacher Report.
He would join Texas’s D'Onta Foreman and LSU’s Leonard Fournette among early entrant running backs.
McCaffrey, of course, offers a different skill set than those two and any other running back. Just as much a threat catching the ball or as a returner, McCaffrey set the FBS single-season all-purpose yardage record — rushing for 2,019 yards and eight touchdowns, receiving for 645 yards and five scores, accumulating 1,070 kick return yards with one touchdown and returning punts for 130 yards and a touchdown. He finished runner-up to Derrick Henry in the Heisman Trophy voting while leading Stanford to the Pac-12 championship and a Rose Bowl victory.
This season, McCaffrey’s profile dropped as Stanford dropped from the national title conversation, but he actually improved as a running back. McCaffrey’s averages jumped in both yards per game (145.1 vs. 144.2) and yards per carry (6.3 vs. 6.0).
Assuming he does indeed declare, McCaffrey will wrap up his Cardinal career as Stanford faces North Carolina in the Sun Bowl (2 p.m. ET Dec. 30, CBS).
Former Colorado running back Rashaan Salaam died on Tuesday, a family spokesperson announced Tuesday. He was 42.
Salaam was found dead in a Boulder, Colo., park on Monday night. Authorities said there were no signs of foul play.
“The Buff Family has lost an outstanding young man and a great Buff today,” CU athletics director Rick George said in a statement Tuesday. “We are heartbroken for Rashaan and his family and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this very difficult time.”
Salaam was best known in college football for winning the 1994 Heisman Trophy, beating out Penn State running back Ki-Jana Carter, the late Alcorn State quarterback Steve McNair and Penn State quarterback Kerry Collins after a season in which he rushed for 2,055 yards and 24 touchdowns on 7.61 yards per carry. Salaam also claimed the Walter Camp Player of the Year award and the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back after helping the Buffs to a season in which they finished 11-1, beat Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl and finished the season ranked No. 3 in the AP poll.
Salaam was drafted in the first round by the Chicago Bears in the 1995 NFL Draft and became the youngest player in league history to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season. His career fizzled from there, though, as a broken leg derailed his career and his yearly totals dwindled to 496, 112 and later two yards with the expansion Cleveland Browns in 1999. Salaam later tried comeback efforts in the XFL and CFL before calling it quits.
Oddly enough, Salaam is the first Heisman winner in more than half a century to pass away.
“He was very coachable,” former CU coach Bill McCartney said. “He had a happy heart. I loved being around him. He didn’t take himself too seriously, and he always credited those around him, especially his offensive line. What I liked about him is that he had a sparkle in his eye. He was upbeat and positive.”