Apr 13, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; General view of the Southern California Trojans spring game as quarterback Max Browne (4) takes the snap on the USC logo at midfield at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Pete Carroll’s Run at USC is Incredibly Overrated


How many times have we heard the national media and in particular football fans on the west coast refer to the USC run in the mid-2000s as a “historic run?”

Steve Sarkisian and Lane Kiffin always talk about it in press conferences. Fans act like it was the greatest stretch in college football history. Even Fox Sports recently said that Carroll’s run at USC “unlike anything that may ever be seen again.” 

What a joke! I’m going to change that line to say that the overhyping of Carroll’s run at USC is unlike anything that may ever be seen again.

With the news this week that Carroll will get inducted into the USC Hall of Fame, we’re hearing more talk like this, and I’d like to be spared this ridiculous overkill, so it’s time to debunk the myth behind this “amazing run.”

First, let’s get some things out of the way. Yes, he brought the Trojans back to power, and yes, it was a great run. He had six straight Pac 10 championships, USC was No. 1 in the AP Poll for 33 weeks, and it had three Heisman trophy winners during that time to go along with the 2004 BCS National Championship.

So what?

Let’s go ahead and give Carroll a break and ignore the fact that his lone BCS Championship was vacated due to NCAA sanctions. It’s still an overrated run.

Shouldn’t dynasties win more than one national championship? USC in this “incredible run” has one title to show for it. Florida had two from 2006-2008, more than the Trojans during their “incredible run.” LSU also had two, in 2003 and 2007, which is more than the Trojans during this “incredible run.” Alabama had three in four years.

Don’t give me that shared national title spin from 2003 that Trojan fans claim because they were No. 1 in the AP Poll, because if that’s the case Auburn gets a share of it in 2004 since some polls declared them No. 1. That would mean USC only shared two national titles and never won one outright. And speaking of 2004 Auburn…

USC’s lone BCS national championship came when they didn’t even have to face the best team that year. Instead of playing Auburn, who was undefeated and should’ve been in that game, Carroll and Co. were given a very overrated Oklahoma Sooners team, who was “Chokelahoma” under Bob “Big Game Choker” Stoops at the time. I’m still of the mindset that Auburn would have destroyed USC that year, who got to pad stats against pathetic Pac 10 defenses. Just go down the roster. Reggie Bush would’ve looked as soft against that Auburn defense as he looks in the NFL, and Matt Leinart, who never had to face any tough defenses in college, would’ve looked like Matt Leinart at Arizona.

This “historic run” also includes six straight Pac 10 championships. Want a cookie? The conference was pathetic during this time, yet the Trojans still usually managed to choke to at least one mediocre team a year with the exceptions of 2004 and 2005. Remember unranked Cal in 2003? What about unranked UCLA in 2006? There was lowly and unranked Oregon State in 2008, and the most famous one, a loss to unranked Stanford at home in 2007. This is all part of this “great run” Pete Carroll was part of. But true, he did manage to win six straight titles in a conference that only had one other Top 10 team three times during that run. Whoop-de-doo.

I guess it is true that they also had three Heisman winn…. I’m sorry. I couldn’t finish that statement without laughing out loud as I typed it. So they won multiple glorified popularity contests voted on by the LA Media. Does USC honestly think three beauty pageant winners counts toward a football run? Keep your Heisman trophies, which have gone to countless NFL busts, Matt Leinart being one of them.

Fox Sports ignores one major fact when saying that USC’s run under Carroll is “unlike anything that may ever be seen again.” There have already been way more impressive runs. 

I already mentioned that Florida, LSU, and Alabama have all had more impressive runs during this time. I’m not done.

Florida’s run from 1993 to 1998 is on par with USC’s. In that run the Gators had four straight SEC titles (much more difficult than six straight Pac 10 titles) and just as many national championships as USC during the 2000s: One. Miami had a run from 2000 to 2003 when they won four straight Big East titles (on par with the Pac 10 during that time), won a national championship, and got robbed of back to back undefeated seasons. There’s also Tom Osbourne’s run of three national championships in four years in the 1990s at Nebraska.

There’s also Florida State’s run of 14 straight Top 5 finishes and nine straight ACC titles (which was also as competitive in the 1990s as the Pac 10 was in the 2000s).

We can even take history back a bit further.

Remember Oklahoma’s run of 47 straight wins from 1953 to 1957? What about Alabama’s runs in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1970s? Tennessee’s run in the late 1930s and early 1950s. Michigan’s and Notre Dame’s runs throughout college football history.

I can even name more impressive USC runs, when they won multiple national titles in the 1930s, 1960s, and 1970s. All of those Trojan runs dwarf Carroll’s run.

So please, let’s stop with Carroll’s “great run” at USC. It’s not even the best run for the Trojans, and it doesn’t make the Top 10 of greatest runs of all time. This is just an annoying overkill by the media that’s gone on for too long.

And although I said I would leave it out, it can’t be ignored that the sanctions and the forfeiture of the only national title during that run would’ve been the kill to squash all this nonsense. I mean Carroll did leave Lane Kiffin a mess that he ended up getting blamed for.

But that’s a topic for another day.

Tags: Feature Featured Pac 10 PAC 12 Football Pete Carroll Popular USC Trojans

  • http://fansided.com/ Michael Castillo

    The AP is one of two polls that actually award a national title without it having to be claimed. So yes, USC won in 2003. That’s two national titles.

  • Aeneas

    What a hack. Auburn was shut out at home by the 2003 USC team and any match up between the two would’ve been between almost identical rosters. Give me a break with your “People’s National Champion” talk. That Auburn team would have gotten smoked by USC not even debatable. Lest you forget the majority of pundits and analysts had Oklahoma as the slight favorite going into the game. You say polls; the only 2 that mattered were the AP and the Coaches’ Polls. The BCS in a very flawed and controversial decision jumped Oklahoma to #1 in 2003 when the human polls had USC #1. The AP Poll declared USC the national champion while the coaches’ poll, contractually obligated to proclaim the BCS champion the national champion, declared LSU the champion and even then some coaches still voted USC #1. Under Carroll USC won 6 BCS bowls, appeared in 7 straight BCS bowl games, had 7 consecutive AP top 4 finishes, 6 conference championships, and recognizes 2 national champion teams, not to mention all the various accolades accumulated by the players. And yeah the achievements of individual players sure as hell does matter. Just ignore all the draft picks and all pro players produced during the Carroll run. And if you’re gonna slam the conference, be so kind as to acknowledge the out of conference schedule USC played as well as the fact that USC often played 12 game regular season schedules well before it was required. So before you call Pete Carroll overrated maybe you should step outside of your south eastern bubble and do some honest to God research and journalism.

    • http://calebcalhoun.wordpress.com Caleb Calhoun

      Bringing up what USC did to Auburn in 2003 is irrelevant. The Tigers were 8-5 in 2003 and finished the year unranked. That’s a far cry from the undefeated 2004 Tigers. Look at what they did from 2012 to 2013. Every year stands on its own.

  • David Higley

    Time to move on to the next chapter of USC but the only thing I am left with is the same questions many have: had the NCAA not systematically and intentionally tried to make USC irrelevant with sanctions,
    what might have been? If you actually do a comparison of USC’s infractions against past and current infractions, there is/was simply no justification for what happened. Things I look forward to in 2015:

    - The McNair case moving forward so everyone will be able to confirm what we all know – the NCAA’s procedures and penalties are far from objective.

    - That everyone can judge USC with a full team, not with two hands tied behind its back. If I were a Stanford, Oregon, Arizona State, UCLA, Notre Dame, etc. fan, that’s the way I’d like to win (or lose) to SC.

  • FIGHTONtoVICTORY

    LOL this guy is a goober (look at his face) and Southeastern homer.

  • A Borrego

    The only thing overrated here, is this “story”

  • Ricky Andres

    Cool story bro… You should write science fiction, you’d be good at it! #fighton

  • Ben Factor

    Pete Carroll started very well. I do think he got bored with recruiting. Who wouldn’t?

    It’s fair to say that Nick Saban’s tenure at Alabama has taken some of the luster off of Carroll’s accomplishments at USC.

    Was Carroll unique in the annals of CFB history? No. But for a guy who arrived in middle age after a long, if so-so, pro coaching career, Carroll certainly found the range very quickly. He sucked in a lot of big-time talent, developed many NFL draftees, and USC played well in a lot of big games.

    He was an excellent CFB coach, as were a number of others, some mentioned here.

  • Cannon7

    They let anyone post an article on this site. Lowest form of journalism I’ve seen in a while and we have Bruin writers to deal with.

  • ian campbell

    i guess beating the SEC West Champion by 60 and shutting out those amazing Auburn teams leave deep scars. When you look at CPC’s out of conference match ups Nick Saban does not even belong in the same conversation.

  • http://batman-news.com JOHN JEWETT

    I agree with Aeneas, for 2 consecutive years (2002-2003) SC thouroughly beat the Auburn team that you think is so special, guess what…. they were not!! do some research first! While I agree that other teams had equally impressive runs they also had glaring weaknesses, SC was left out of the 03 tittle game for that same OU team that you say was so overated when we all know the trojans deserved to be there. If you ask me the SEC is overated!!!! it is alot easier to win 7 BCS tittles in row when you have at least one team and sometimes 2 in the game. A few of those years they did not deserve to be there. This fact cannot be debated Pete scheduled SEC teams all the way up until 2008 and beat every one of them including the SEC West Champion Arkansas team that the trojans punished in their own backyard 50-14.