Monday, December 15, 2008

Doing things better than they've ever been done before

If you didn't catch USC coach Pete Carroll on "60 Minutes" last night, here are a couple of highlights from the segment.

At one point, the interviewer, Byron Pitts asked: "One of your rivals, Charlie Weiss, the coach of Notre Dame, said on this program, on 60 Minutes that all coaches are miserable. You miserable?"

Coach Carroll replied: "No. I never have been miserable. I keep thinking day to day, that somethin' good's just about happen, you know. And so, that mentality, whether I'm in a game or coachin' in the midst of the season, I don't know how to think otherwise. And that doesn't take you to misery."

-- On getting fired after one season with the NY Jets: "You know I got fired at the Jets, I was, 'This is the best thing that ever happened to me. That was my first thought. I know how crazy that sounds, but that’s what went through my mind, you know, and it’s because I had three years left in my contract too. You know that has something to do with it."

-- On how he responds when people say his tenure in the NFL was a "failure": "I hate hearing that. That doesn’t sit well with me at all. You know, they made the right decision for them. But I didn't go out thinking I'd failed. I was looking, 'Let me go, let’s go to the next shot. Let’s go, let’s get this thing right.'"

-- On why practices are so important to a team's success: "A great coach once said that the best players don't always win, the players that play the best do. That's why we work so hard. That's why we train so hard. That's why we focus so much on practicing better than anybody’s ever practiced before. That's the whole idea, you know, you want to do things better than it's ever been done before."

-- On what his "Win Forever" mantra means to him: "It’s about finding out how good you could become at something and then making it come to life."

According to the "60 Minutes" segment:

Carroll sees that as his life's work: teach young people, not just ball players, to seize every opportunity and make the most of it. Pete Carroll has given his own money - and raised even more cash - to fund a program where about 50 former gang members will take courses in conflict resolution and first aid. They’re being trained to help stop violence in the tough neighborhoods.

Sergeant Curtis Woodle, a 13-year veteran of the L.A. gang wars, was skeptical when Coach Carroll first got involved. "I thought it was a joke, to be honest," Woodle admitted.

Not any more. He credits Pete Carroll’s group with helping to reduce the murder rate, and changing the attitudes of street-hardened police officers. "He's actually rejuvenated me as a police officer. He's actually given me hope," Woodle said.

"Look, as long as I can see kids who would not normally walk around here, maybe we had a crime scene under a sheet, I'm happy," the officer said.

And so are a group of boys, who got their first chance to watch a USC practice session. These are the boys Pete Carroll met in the projects. He invited them, not to make football players out of them, but to show them a different and better world than the one they know.

Pete Carroll moves easily between both his teams. To him, they are all just young men who need a coach.

"Each person holds so much power within themselves that needs to be let out. And sometimes they just need a little nudge, a little direction, a little support, a little coaching. And, you know, the greatest of things can happen," Carroll said.