Pete Carroll started his football career in the small town of Redwood City, California where he was born in September 1951. From there, he went on to play defensive back at one of the most famous college football programs of all time, the University of Southern California.
After an extremely successful collegiate career where he helped create the West Coast offense with head coach John McKay, Carroll went on to be drafted by the New England Patriots in 1976, but later on that year he found himself traded to the San Francisco 49ers where he would spend the next decade playing some of his best seasons in the NFL.
Pete Carroll was born in San Francisco and attended Redwood High School in Larkspur, California. He graduated from College of Marin in Kentfield, California where he played running back on a team that won a junior college national championship.
He then transferred to the University of Pacific where he received his Bachelor’s degree in 1966 and his Master’s degree in 1967.
In 1968, Pete married Glenna Lynn Behm from nearby San Rafael, CA. They have two daughters: Jennifer (Cowell) and Laura (from a previous marriage). They live in Seattle, WA.
Playing College Football
In 1965, when he was 22 years old, Pete Carroll played linebacker for two seasons with Bill Walsh’s University of California Golden Bears football team.
He then became a graduate assistant coach for six months until he accepted a position at his alma mater to teach physical education and coach football. That year (1967), Walsh became head coach of the Oakland Raiders professional football team.
The following year, Walsh asked Pete Carroll to become an assistant on his staff; eventually becoming defensive backfield coach in 1971.
After one more season working with Walsh in Oakland, he left for Stanford University where he spent four years as an assistant to Stanford’s head coach; Denny Green (1972-1975). In 1976, he returned to Arkansas as defensive coordinator under Lou Holtz.
Finding His Niche
Though he says he had a few scholarship offers out of high school, football wasn’t exactly Pete Carroll’s lifelong passion. He went to college at Pacific University, a small liberal arts school in Oregon, and realized his true passion: education.
After getting his Master’s in Education from Colorado University and then working for three years as an assistant football coach at one of Colorado University’s rivals (the Colorado School of Mines), Pete decided to get back into sports by moving to USC and applying for a position coaching the defensive backs there.
Though things didn’t work out on that front (his players only managed mediocre results), Pete Carroll did get noticed by Paul Hackett, another Colorado graduate who was USC’s head coach at that time.
Becoming a Champion
Before becoming a Super Bowl-winning coach with Seattle, Pete Carroll was fired from two NFL jobs.
But he didn’t let his failures define him; instead, he continued to push forward and find success in professional sports.
With his fun-loving attitude and motivational nature, Pete Carroll was destined to succeed as a head coach.
His unconventional life experiences have given him an intriguing story that has allowed him to connect with his players, turning them into winners. The former defensive back’s style is often imitated but never duplicated.
While his critics contend that he’s not doing anything special or different, those who know better insist that he’s proven himself as one of history’s greatest innovators.
Pete Carroll is married to Glena Goranson. They have 3 children together – Brennan, Jaime, and youngest Nate.