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Pete Carroll to the Seahawks?

That's the rumor going around now that Jim Mora Jr. has been ousted after just one season -- albeit an unsuccessful one at 5-11 -- at the helm in Seattle.

According to the Los Angeles Times, a "Seahawks contingent" including CEO Tod Leiweke interviewed the USC coach earlier this week to gauge his interest in taking over as head coach in Seattle.

Carroll, who is 97-19 in nine seasons at USC with two national and seven Pac-10 titles, coached the Jets to a 6-10 record in 1994 and the Patriots to a 27-21 mark from 1997-99. He made the postseason after the '97 and '98 seasons and was 1-2 in those appearances. Carroll also served as the defensive coordinator with the 49ers in '95 and '96.

According to the Times, Carroll's $4.4 million salary makes him the highest paid private university empolyee in the U.S. But he might be itching to leave SoCal in lieu of NCAA sanctions facing the university stemming from running back Joe McKnight's use of an SUV owed by a Santa Monica businessman. On Friday, McKnight declared for the NFL draft.

Said Tim Tessalone, USC's sports information director, of the rumors: "Pete's name comes out at this time every year. In the past, he hasn't commented on such reports. He was not expected in today. I've put a message out to him, but haven't heard back yet. At this point, we have nothing to report. Perhaps check with the Seahawks [who later declined to comment]."

Chris Mortensen of ESPN is reporting that Carroll is trying to persuade USC offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates to come with him to Seattle.

The Seahawks have also contacted Minnesota defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. Frazier is thought to be a serious candidate, though even if he isn't, an interview with him would satisfy the Rooney Rule, which requires a minority candidate to be interviewed for a vacant coach/GM position.

However, Mortensen said the team has already reached out to Frazier, and he turned them down because he was hip to their plan.

The Seahawks finished the season on a four-game losing streak (including a defeat to a one-win Tampa Bay squad) during which they failed to score more than 13 points in any game. They have missed out on the playoffs two straight seasons after a streak of five straight postseason berths, including a Super Bowl appearance after the '05 season.

But they do have two first-round draft picks — No. 6, which is their own, and No. 14, which they received from Denver in exchange for a second-round pick last year (cornerback Alphonso Smith).


**Update**: ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting Carroll and the Seahawks have agreed in principle to a deal, which could be announced as ealy as Monday morning, so long as the team is in compliance with the Rooney Rule. The L.A. Times is reporting the deal is worth $35 million over five years.

New York Sports