AP Source: Seattle 'very close' to signing Carroll

SEATTLE (AP) - Pete Carroll is about to sign a contract to return to the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks, according to a league official with direct knowledge of the coaching search.

The official, who requested anonymity because the team isn't detailing the search, said Sunday night the charismatic coach of Southern California has "not signed but (is) very close."

The official told The Associated Press that the Seahawks expect to finish the deal for the eighth coach in their 34-year history Monday morning, and that all that was left was to "dot the I's and cross the T's." The official said that barring last-minute hang-ups, the Seahawks are likely to introduce Carroll on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Seahawks chief executive Tod Leiweke spent Sunday in Los Angeles meeting with Carroll.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Carroll decided Sunday night to resign from USC and take the job with the Seahawks. The school's players and coaches were informed of the moved through a text message from an assistant, according a story posted on the newspaper's Web site.

Carroll and several Trojans players did not respond to text messages and phone calls left by the AP. The coach's agent, Gary Uberstine, did not respond to calls and e-mails left on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

A Seahawks spokesman declined comment when asked about the report that Carroll had resigned. He also said the Seahawks had nothing to report on their coaching search Sunday night.

USC spokesman Tim Tessalone said he also had nothing to report on Carroll, who has spent nine mostly glorious years with the Trojans.

The Seahawks fired coach Jim Mora on Friday following just one season, even though he had three years and about $12 million remaining on his contract. General manager and president Tim Ruskell was forced to resign last month, leaving Seattle without a coach, general manager or president less than four years after the team reached the Super Bowl.

Carroll went 6-10 with the Jets in 1994 and 27-21 while twice reaching the playoffs from '97-99 with the Patriots - before he restored a dynasty at USC beginning in 2001.

Seattle is 9-23 since its run of four consecutive NFC West titles ended in the 2007 season. Team owner Paul Allen, the Microsoft Corp. tycoon, proved money is of little concern by firing Mora after Leiweke had said he expected the coach to stay.

The Seahawks are hoping the splashy, marquee addition of Carroll will ignite a notoriously rabid fan base that turned on its team this season with constant calls for mass firings.

The opportunity is unique for Carroll. The Seahawks do not have a GM in place, so he could have authority over football matters like he had at USC, and far more than he would have had filling any of the NFL coaching openings to which he's been connected in recent winters. The league source, however, said the only official title Carroll will have is "coach."

This is also perhaps the best time to leave USC since he arrived in 2001.

Its string of seven consecutive Pac-10 titles ended with four losses in the just-completed season. And the school has been under several years of NCAA scrutiny for alleged improprieties in both Carroll's team and athletic director Mike Garrett's beleaguered department.

When receiver Damian Williams announced he's entering the NFL a year early, the news release of his departure Friday night didn't include a quote from Carroll, who often lavishes praise on early entry candidates.

University of Washington coach Steve Sarkisian, who left his friend Carroll and the Trojans 12 months ago for his first head coaching job, chuckled when asked if he'd like to be a head man in the same city as his mentor.

"That would be kind of fun," Sarkisian said. "He would do great. He's a great coach."

Carroll's departure comes at a bad time for USC recruits, who are now caught between whether to honor their commitments or re-enter the college recruiting derby late in the process.

Carroll had already planned a team meeting for Monday afternoon, on the day the Trojans return to class following the holiday break. Tessalone said that meeting is still scheduled.


AP Sports Writer

AP Sports Writer Greg Beacham in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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