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Carroll Is Staying at USC

Times Staff Writer

With his team on the verge of playing for a third consecutive national championship, USC football Coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday that he had finalized a contract extension that would keep him at the school for “the long haul.”

Neither Carroll nor Athletic Director Mike Garrett would disclose the length of the extension or whether it included a raise.

But after compiling a 54-9 record going into next week’s Rose Bowl showdown against second-ranked Texas, Carroll is almost certainly at or near the top of the college coaching profession in terms of salary.

“I’m in great shape,” said Carroll, who, according to a source, earned close to $3 million last year as the Trojans won their second straight Associated Press national championship.

Carroll, 54, is completing his fifth season at USC, which is playing in its fourth consecutive bowl championship series bowl game. The top-ranked Trojans, who are riding a 34-game winning streak, have established attendance records in each of the last three seasons, pumping millions of dollars into an athletic department that operated at a deficit for years.

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“We love what Pete is doing here,” Garrett said in a statement. “He does a great job winning games and graduating players. Pete wants to be at USC as long as he can, and we want him here too.”

Carroll signed a five-year contract worth approximately $1 million annually when he was hired by USC to replace Paul Hackett in December 2000.

Carroll received a significant raise after the 2002 season and was among the highest-paid coaches in college football last year.

Notre Dame Coach Charlie Weis, who was hired before this season, in October received a 10-year extension that will reportedly pay him $3.5 million annually.

Last December, Texas Coach Mack Brown received a 10-year, $25-million deal.

This month, Carroll said he was not concerned about being the highest-paid coach in college football. Asked whether he thought he should be compensated like Weis, he declined to comment but said Weis’ contract was “good for the coaching profession.”

Carroll said Wednesday that he had been having “ongoing” talks with Garrett regarding his contract and that he had a “more significant conversation” on Wednesday before practice.

Asked if he had finalized a deal, Carroll said, “Yes. That’s why I was willing to say something about it in a general sense.”

Asked whether he would be compensated like other top coaches, he said, “I’m not going to make any comments about any of that stuff. It’s very comfortable, a very good situation. I’m absolutely pleased about it.”

Carroll acknowledged that annual speculation regarding a possible return to the NFL influenced his decision to talk about the extension. Carroll was head coach of the New York Jets in 1994 and the New England Patriots from 1997 to 1999.

Carroll, who grew up in Marin County, twice turned down overtures to coach the San Francisco 49ers. He also has been linked as a possible candidate for other openings, including several that could become available after the NFL season.

“I spent plenty of time in the NFL, and I think I understand it quite well,” he said Wednesday. “I’ve learned in the five years I’ve been here what the world of college football is like. It’s been awesome to be here

“I’m not looking. I don’t care about those [NFL] opportunities. They don’t fit right now. They haven’t even really been a consideration at any time in the five years I’ve been here.”

Though he declined to reveal the length of the extension, Carroll’s comments about its effect on recruiting indicated that he has been working under a five-year contract that renews annually.

Carroll said he had always been able to tell recruits that he would “be here to see them through” their entire college career.

Sophomore receiver Dwayne Jarrett said the extension would help USC continue to attract top recruiting classes.

“That’s one of the questions everyone asks, ‘Are you going to be here?’ ” Jarrett said. “It definitely helps out for the future and the present.”


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