Is Pete Carroll’s Charity Work a Hinderance For The USC Trojans?


As Pete Carroll and the USC Trojans attempt to climb out of the quagmire of a disappointing season, the radio talk around the Los Angeles southland has centered on a most unusual topic.

Is Pete Carroll’s work with his charity foundation “A Better LA,” detracting from his ability to guide the Trojans?

This was the topic for discussion on ESPN’s popular “Steve Mason and John Ireland Show,” where a surprising number of call in’s said that indeed, the charity work was limiting Carroll’s ability to pull the Trojans out of their recent travails.

Both Mason and Ireland took exception to this line of thinking, saying that Pete’s charity work was never a problem when he was guiding the Trojans to their NCAA record seven straight top four finishes along with those consecutive PAC-10 championships.

Well, yes and no.

The fact that the Trojans were winning all those championships, in and of itself, precluded this line of questioning of Carroll’s altruistic work.

Those who support the line of thinking that the charity work is getting in the way could also contend that the charity work got in the way of Carroll’s preparation when the the Trojans lost those yearly pesky conference games that seemed to haunt USC annually.

Except that there is a problem with this rational also.

When Carroll appeared on the Mason and Ireland show, he was asked specifically if the charity work was a hindrance time-wise, for which the Trojans have suffered.

I am paraphrasing here but this is basically how Carroll responded:

“No,” said Pete, “The vast majority of the time spent on the foundation is done by others. In no way does this charity take away from my ability to my job.”

Again, yes and no.

To be sure, the main work is done by others.

“A Better LA,” a “take it to the streets” program that attempts to guide young people in the inner city away from gangs, is largely run by others.

Carroll, who founded the program some years ago, lends both his name and considerable popularity to the cause but during the college football season, not much time.

With this exception:

Pete Carroll has been seen on CBS’ “Sixty Minutes” and various other talk shows promoting the foundation which, admittedly, has done tremendous work around the southland.

Carroll has also appeared at his various fundraisers throughout the years, including the upcoming “A Night Of Comedy,” hosted by Will Ferrell, a friend of both Pete Carroll and the Trojans themselves.

But does this really hinder Pete’s ability to guide the Trojans?

In my opinion, no.

Carroll, like most coaches, arrives very early and leaves just as late as any other coach in his pursuit of Trojan college gridiron excellence.

His passion and diligence has translated into fabulous success for USC and their fans.

In what little time Pete has left over, he donates to his foundation and its charitable cause.

Part of the reason for the Trojans success is his amazing ability to recruit four and five star players to come play for the Trojans.

When Carroll sits in these recruits homes and tells their parents that he will take care of their sons, Pete can point to his foundation as proof of his passion to care about things beyond the field of play.

The fact that the focus of his charity is in the inner city also plays well for these parents and recruits, many of whom hail directly from where the foundation does its best work.

But the best thing of all is that this charity work and Pete’s passion are genuine.

“A Better LA” has done some fantastic things in the inner city by providing opportunities for youth to find a way to success beyond gang life.

That Pete Carroll cares enough about the community should be celebrated by the Trojan faithful who are struggling to come to terms with three losses (so far) in the 2009 season.

Those fans who are complaining about Pete Carroll’s time distribution should take a step back and reconsider what is truly important.

Making life better in your community is a wonderful goal and those with the juice to effect change are truly blessed.

But they are only blessed if they choose to make that difference, which Pete Carroll has.

And there is a hidden benefit to this charity work for Trojan fans that worry every year that Pete will leave for NFL riches.

As each year passes and Pete Carroll becomes more heavily invested in his foundation, chances of his leaving become more remote.

So, in essence, Pete Carroll’s investment in his charity is also an investment in the notion that he will stay and coach the Trojans.

Talk about your “win-win” scenarios…