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Pete Carroll again defends decision to leave USC just prior to sanctions being handed down

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Pete Carroll left USC five months before the NCAA handed out heavy sanctions to his former football program, punitive measures in response to the investigation into gifts Reggie Bush received back in 2004 and 2005. The investigation, which lasted five years, determined that a USC assistant coach did or should have known about the gifts from marketers, and meant the school lost 30 scholarships over three years and faced a two-year bowl ban. Two victories from the 2004 season, including the National Title game win over Oklahoma, and all 12 of the team's wins in 2005, were vacated as well.

Pete Carroll blasted the sanctions when they happened -- seen here shortly after he was hired as the Seahawks' head coach...

... and he's blasting it again now, as reported by the LA Times, as the sanctions are ending.

Carroll has called the NCAA's decision to hand down sanctions "a terrible error," and has said that he thinks it "was extraordinarily overdone, an overreaction."

Obviously, the timing of Carroll's departure looked/looks bad. He received and will continue to receive a lot of criticism for "jumping ship," as many people see it. "It does bother me because it's not right and it's not accurate," he said, in response to that criticism, "I didn't feel bad about leaving at all. I didn't feel bad about it because I knew what the truth was."

Carroll was asked about that quote last week, and his response is now making the media rounds.

"The truth was, an opportunity came up and it was one I couldn't turn away from. ... The NCAA came back at the university... 'Now we're going to revisit after five years.' I had no knowledge that was coming. We thought maybe it wasn't coming because they didn't have anything to get us with. It wasn't five days, it wasn't five weeks. It was five years. Had we known that that was imminent ... I would never have been able to leave under those circumstances. When I look back now, I would have stayed there to do what we needed to do to resolve the problem."

Now, I'm not going to pretend I really know what happened and I'm not super familiar with the inner goings on of the investigation and subsequent sanctions, so I'm not going to offer an opinion on whether Carroll is culpable or not. It is interesting, though, that he's apparently not afraid to open up the discussion once again; it's a hot button topic and people are going to talk about it a lot this week, partly because there's almost nothing else going on. Either way, for what it's worth, Carroll recently returned to USC to host a talk there, and was apparently very well received there.