Maybe you automatically associate the name Pete Carroll with tremendous success at USC. (Whether through legitimate means or otherwise.)
Maybe you think of a fairly successful NFL coordinator, or a decent head coaching stint with the Patriots which was considered an underachievement.
Me? I think of a man whose entire head coaching fortunes with the Jets rested on one play - the fake spike by Dan Marino.
I sometimes wonder what would have happened to Carroll and the Jets had Aaron Glenn turned sooner on that pass...or had the Jets not been caught sleeping...or had Boomer Esiason's floating Hail Mary on the last play of the game found a receiver instead of falling harmlessly to the floor of the end zone beneath the goal post.
Because after the fake spike, which came with the Jets beating the Dolphins late in a game that would have improved their record to 7-4, alone in first place, the Jets fell apart. Instead of 7-4 they were 6-5, en route to a 6-10 finish. Carroll lost the team, in particular a couple of individuals on a defensive unit that loved Carroll when he was their fiery defensive coordinator. He was fired at the end of the season.
He resurfaced with the Patriots a few years later, and put up a 27-21 record in three years in New England, taking the team to the playoffs twice. But following a Patriots Super Bowl appearance, and preceding Super Bowl championships, that stint is considered a failure. He followed that failure with his run of success in the college ranks.
Why all the Carroll talk? Well, he's about the most interesting thing going in Seattle this season. And there's a significant Jets connection. Because Carroll was (and still is) a likable and excitable character - he was as a defensive coordinator under Bruce Coslet, and that continued as he matured coaching college kids.
I think he still has that ability to inspire - provided the players are buying into what he's selling. And I think they will in Seattle...but it might take a season or two. Carroll's big strategy as he takes over the Seahawks is that no one's position is safe - he has created competition at every position - even quarterback, where Matt Hasselbeck has been the Seahawks' link to their recent glory.
Eventually, the veterans like Hasselbeck will be gone - and all that will be left is Carroll and the young guys. If he gets them to believe in him this year, he may just have his most successful run as an NFL head coach in the Pacific Northwest.
2010 Prediction: 5-11, 3rd place in NFC West