Football has a dark side in more ways than one.
College players make millions upon millions of dollars for the BCS, NCAA, and their corporate sponsors. Bowl games used to mean something - the stamp of a successful season.
Now every team that has won six games gets into a lavishly sponsored, yet borderline meaningless bowl game. How well your fan base travels, rather than team quality, determines the prestige of your bowl.
In the NFL, we as fans don't really know about PED/HGH use. Of and on suspensions occur under the radar, by in-large we have no idea what’s really going on. We were forced to witness games thrown by replacement refs because of labor negotiations. We see Roger Goodell poorly manage just about every docket placed on his desk.
Bottom line - football doesn't reside in the field of roses we often dream it does exist in.
Pete Carroll is the embodiment of these phenomena. On the outside, he's the leader of an up-start Seahawks team. The same team that started a rookie quarterback over a $40 million off-season signing. The same team that put Tom Brady in his place - "you mad bro?" The team that no one hates, and everyone enjoys watching.
But who really is Pete Carroll? USC forfeited national titles, Heisman trophies, and regular season wins because of Carroll's apparent laissez-faire approach to managing recruits. USC also lost scholarships, and remained un-eligible for national ranking until this season.
For everything Carroll did to resurrect USC's football program, as soon as the microscope turned to his management of USC, he took the money and ran. Bill Plaschke said it best "he made $33 million from violations that will cost his old school its reputation."
Who knows what other infractions or rules Carroll violated while at USC. The one thing that seems to ring true - good FBS coaches don't cheat, they only get caught.
As the USC football program crumbled behind Carroll's departure to Seattle, football writers took issue with the Seahawks’ hiring an embattled college coach. Mike Florio called for the Seahawks to fire Carroll in the name of justice.
Nevertheless, Seattle brought in Carroll - sending the signal to shady college coaches they're welcomed behind the shield. The NCAA can't sanction, fine, or police NFL coaches. It's out of their jurisdiction.
Carroll's first two years in Seattle were largely innocuous. But this week it looks as though Carroll has reached into his bag of tricks, and his two towering cornerbacks have been suspended for PED use.
Corners Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman (you high bro?) were caught by the NFL for allegedly taking Aderall. Aderall is used by college kids to help focus while studying. I can only assume that Browner and Sherman thought the focus provided by Aderall could be extrapolated to the field on gameday.
Both corners are second year backs and I'm willing to concede they took this PED without Carroll's explicit consent. They were most likely exposed to it while attending Pac-12 schools and they may or may not have used it their entire sports careers.
Yet the fact remains that a Carroll-led program is now caught for rule violations. Haven't we seen this before?
While no one can discern Carroll's true role in this new issue, it's foolish to ignore Carroll's history of questionable ethics. Foregoing Carroll’s history only reduces accountability for his team’s drug use.
Tony LaRussa ran the most polluted organization in the history of baseball - the late 80's/early 90's Oakland A's. That clubhouse contained more juice than a Simply Orange tree farm. McGwire and Canseco are the poster boys for steroid use, sharing the photo with other edge-chasers like Rafael Palmeiro and Barry Bonds.
Despite this, LaRussa left Oakland and successfully coached the St. Louis Cardinals to multiple championships. As with Carroll, I'm not saying LaRussa told his players to go see Victor Conte at Balco before spring training starts, but you'd be a fool to deny the possibility that LaRussa was complacent in his players' rampant HGH use.
Don't be surprised if/when one of LaRussa's top projects - Yadier Molina, gets popped for HGH/PED use. Players do get bigger with age, but he's built like a tank now. He finished fourth in MVP voting this season, had Mark McGwire/LaRussa as coaches, and looks more and more like Barry Bonds.
That old saying - "if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it's a duck," comes to mind.
Carroll reminds me of LaRussa. Two programs, two major violations of rules, zero repercussions. Coaches of stars, winners of championships, highly paid and greatly respected by peers.
Two men that have shamed their organizations, fans, players - and somehow still thrive/d as coaches.
Pete Carroll has brought his "program" to the NFL; don't be shocked if/when more transgressions occur. Fortunately for Carroll, CFL franchises aren’t too far away from Seattle. When the time comes to leave before being caught by Sheriff Goodell, he won’t have a long flight.