Carroll Moved In After Holt Decided to Bolt

Times Staff Writer

Pete Carroll did not waste time. Ten minutes after Nick Holt announced that he was leaving Idaho to become the St. Louis Rams’ defensive line coach, Carroll asked an assistant for Holt’s phone number and called the former Trojan assistant.

“The competition was on,” Carroll said.

Carroll’s decision to hire Holt as defensive coordinator, a process that is expected to be completed today when Holt visits USC, is another in a series of moves that continued Wednesday when defensive backs coach Greg Burns followed defensive line coach Jethro Franklin to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Burns, 33, coached at USC from 2002 to 2005.

“They like the way we coach,” Carroll said of the Buccaneers.

Carroll, who agreed to a contract extension before the Rose Bowl, has served as defensive coordinator for the Trojans since he was hired before the 2001 season. He said his decision to turn the responsibility over to Holt, who also will oversee the defensive line, was borne of a desire to make the staff more efficient.


“We’re not changing,” said Carroll, who has won two Associated Press national titles and compiled a 54-10 record in five seasons. “We don’t need to change. We need to get better and that’s what this allows.”

Senior linebacker Dallas Sartz said Holt’s return would help the Trojans. Holt coached USC linebackers from 2001 to 2003.

“He brings some great intensity, coaching skill and knows the program,” Sartz said.

“It will be good to have him back in my ear.”

Carroll said the time demands of being a head coach have increasingly forced him to juggle meetings and other responsibilities, a situation that Holt’s presence will aid. “While I’m ducking and dodging ... the organization of the defense on a day-to-day basis really can be more efficiently run with the leadership in the room,” he said.

Carroll said abdicating the coordinator role would allow him to become immersed in all facets, but he would not infringe on the responsibilities of offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin and assistant head coach Steve Sarkisian.

“I want to be a part of this process in this off-season just so I’m better versed, so I’m growing with that as well for the long haul,” Carroll said. “I want to be able to own everything we’re doing so when our guys leave, we always maintain the philosophy and expertise.

“I’m the only one that can guarantee it.”