NEW YORK — Pete Carroll is one victory from joining an incredibly exclusive club — coaches who have won both a Super Bowl and a college football national championship.
As it is, only Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer have done so. Carroll's USC teams won national championships at the end of the 2003 and '04 seasons. Louisiana State defeated Oklahoma in the 2003-04 Bowl Championship Series title game, but the Associated Press chose USC as No. 1 in its final season poll. USC beat Oklahoma for the 2004-05 BCS title but was later stripped by the NCAA.
Johnson, now a Fox analyst, said he loved his time at the University of Miami, where he won a national title in 1987, but he takes more pride in his accomplishments with the Dallas Cowboys, where he won Super Bowls in the 1992 and '93 seasons.
"When I was at University of Miami, I thought I was a hell of a football coach," he said. "Then when I went to Dallas I realized I was winning all those games because I had better players. That's kind of how it is. If you're at Alabama or some of the schools that are on top right now, really there's only two or three teams on their schedule that can beat them. They would have to play really poor to lose to a team, other than one of those top two or three.
"Whereas in pro football, if you play poorly against anybody, any week, you're going to lose the ballgame."
Switzer won national titles at Oklahoma in 1974, '75 and '85. He succeeded Johnson as coach of the Dallas Cowboys, beating Pittsburgh at the end of the 1995 season to win the Super Bowl.
He agreed with Johnson that, career-wise, the Super Bowl is the mountaintop.
"They're all hard. But I look back on it and, without a doubt, the Super Bowl is the biggest sporting event on the planet," Switzer said.
"You're playing the best of the best that play the game, playing the game that determines the champion that year. The national championship games, winning those was important. It takes the same effort and energy and commitment. It's a great achievement, but it probably doesn't add up to a Super Bowl."
So which achievement is more impressive?
For Switzer, it depends on his geographical location at the time.
"When I go out of state, I probably wear the Super Bowl ring more than I do the national championship rings," he said. "When I'm here in Oklahoma, I wear my national championship rings."