His is now the voice of the Seahawks. He still doesn't curse and still doesn't demean. He has the hammer, if wrapped in velvet. He reinforced his authority not with bluster but with swift, bold personnel moves. In March he made a trade with the Chargers for backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, whom he expects to compete with Hasselbeck. "Is it what I would have done?" says Hasselbeck, laughing. "I mean, hey, how about a receiver or offensive lineman? But I think what Pete has shown is consistency: He wants competition at every position. I'm all for that."
In April, Carroll drafted aggressively, grabbing win-now players: Oklahoma State offensive tackle Russell Okung (sixth pick), Texas safety Earl Thomas (14th), Notre Dame wide receiver Golden Tate (60th). Carroll also acquired Titans running back LenDale White for nothing (good thing, since White was cut) and used a fifth-round pick to sucker the Jets into giving up running back Leon Washington. The grade was universal A's from the Mel Kiper draft-o-sphere.
Seattle fans were giddy. Carroll cares what they think: He made sure they felt a part of the action by Twittering song hints leading up to the draft. First clue: Soul Sacrifice by Santana. Second clue: Let the Beat Build by Lil Wayne. Tweetville went mad scrambling to decode Coach Riddler. There was no code. Carroll was just tweaking the absurd hype around the draft.
"He hasn't changed at all," says linebacker Lofa Tatupu, one of seven former Trojans on the Seattle roster. "He's as advertised: energetic, enthusiastic, eternal optimist." Carroll, in fact, has made positivity a mandate. Of the three rules he established for the Seahawks, beginning with Protect Your Teammate (on and off the field) and ending with Be Early for Everything (as a sign of respect), Rule No. 2 stands out: No Whining or Complaining. "It's a challenge, particularly for guys who have been used to doing things a certain way," Carroll says, but the beauty of it is that "we all held each other accountable immediately." If a player so much as rolls his eyes at running the hill next to the practice field at 7 a.m., a teammate will call out, "Rule 2 violation!" If a teammate even mumbles about a play call, another will cut him off in mid-groan: "Nope, stop, Rule 2."
"You won't dare complain," Hasselbeck says, "not even about the weather."
It's blue skies, 24/7, in Carroll's universe. But these are grown men here, long removed from the college hoopla. Can Carroll sell sunshine in Seattle? "If he didn't have respect and credibility, it wouldn't work, but in Pete's case it will, because he has experience in the NFL," says Diamond. "The hardest thing for college coaches coming into the pros is adjusting to the fact that they don't win all the time; it's not always 11--1 and the Rose Bowl. But Pete knows that. I think his personality is only going to help. I think players deep down like a coach who shows fire. The great coaches know what buttons to push."
The Sunshine Boy was miserable once. In 1973. At Redwood High in Larkspur, Calif., and then at Pacific, he had ignored people who said he was too small for football. As a defensive back, he had blown up opponents with rattling hits. But his faith in himself went unrewarded. In '73 he was cut at tryouts for the World Football League. It hurt him to the core. "I thought I'd play forever," says Carroll, "but I didn't spiral downward—I wouldn't know what that is." He decided sports were a negative and cut himself off from them, went cold turkey. "That was a mistake in judgment," he says now. He started working in a roofing business but had zero passion for it (though he says, "I still make a pretty good presentation on the 25-year Hallmark shingles").
He laughs about his roofing career now and sees it like everything else in his life: a passage to a better place. USC is behind him, left to cope with NCAA sanctions on its own. On to Seattle. Carroll is wearing shades, looking out over Lake Washington on a glorious day. "Perfect, isn't it?" he says. "What rain?"
Give Pete Carroll this: The man can light up even an entire climate.