Pete Carroll has pretty much lucked into the unfiltered power Mike Holmgren craved for years and ultimately could not acquire from the Seattle Seahawks.
Here's the thing, though: I don't get the sense Carroll cares about his power profile nearly to the degree Holmgren did, and that might help explain how he's risen to such a position. Of course, Carroll might care if he runs into some of the issues that prevented Holmgren from fully enjoying the powers bestowed upon him to run the franchise beginning in 1999. Those issues allegedly included having a hard time getting clear, prompt answers from owner Paul Allen while sorting through an inner circle -- "layers" -- featuring Allen's friends and associates.
According to a news release Thursday, Carroll and the football leadership, specifically general manager John Schneider, will report directly to Allen on football matters. They will report to newly hired president Peter McLoughlin on budgetary issues. Outgoing CEO Tod Leiweke said during a news conference Thursday that nothing has changed along those lines, an indication that the power structure had evolved, but the CEO definitely outranked the football side.
Carroll has more expressed authority on football matters than anyone in the organization other than Allen. That was true in spirit before McLoughlin replaced Leiweke because Leiweke didn't want to be a football decision maker. It's true on the organizational flow chart under the new arrangement, enhancing the job Carroll accepted in January (Carroll participated in Schneider's hiring and has control over the roster).
It's still unclear to what degree Carroll will communicate directly with Allen when mulling important football decisions.
Allen's inner circle at Vulcan, Inc., has allegedly stood between the Seahawks' football leadership and Allen in the past, sometimes to the frustration of Holmgren, even when Holmgren was GM from 1999 through the 2002 season. One member of Allen's inner circle, Bert Kolde, was part of the news conference introducing McLoughlin. To what degree Kolde and others close to Allen factor into the Seahawks' ownership could affect the extent to which Carroll and Schneider feel unrestricted.
Perhaps that doesn't matter a great deal to Carroll as long as he and Schneider get to pick the players. The rest might be small details to Carroll. Holmgren uses the term "juice" with some reverence when contemplating who had the most sway. Carroll seems more concerned with dedicating songs of the day to friends and colleagues ("Shock the Monkey" went out to McLoughlin).
Holmgren wanted a direct line to Allen when considering whether to return to the Seahawks in an executive role during the offseason, before Carroll and Schneider were hired. The job Holmgren accepted from the Cleveland Browns carries more power than anyone beneath Allen wields in Seattle. Holmgren oversees all aspects of the organization, including the business side. Carroll never sought power over non-football operations.
Still, there was some irony in recent events. Holmgren wanted to stay in Seattle under the right terms and I suspect he would have accepted the arrangement Carroll now enjoys.