In a sprawling 20-minute, stream-of-consciousness monologue, Pete Carroll was full of "thank yous" and nostalgia as he said goodbye to USC during a Monday evening press conference at the school.
Carroll said he's breaking up with USC not because of anything the Trojans did -- or because of the NCAA or athletic director Mike Garrett, for that matter -- but because the Seattle Seahawks made him an offer he couldn't refuse.
"Why can't it keep going?" Carroll rhetorically asked. "It can't keep going because I can't pass up this opportunity that has come up."
What exactly the "opportunity" the Seahawks are giving Carroll is presently vague.
Carroll repeatedly has said he'd never give the NFL another try unless he received total control of the franchise. Early reports were the Seahawks planned to give him that. Then there were conflicting stories as to how much power Carroll would have that arose due to questions about the Seahawks compliance with the "Rooney Rule," which requires NFL teams to interview minority candidates for coaching jobs. To this point, all the Seahawks have said is Carroll will have "a collaborative capacity on football matters."
Carroll, who has had a number of previous chances to return to the NFL, described that "collaborative capacity" as a "unique opportunity."
"I thought I would be here forever and then this came along," he said.
But that's the NFL side of things, which Carroll mostly refused to talk about, including which members of the USC staff he plans to take to Seattle. At present, he's expected to bring along offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates, linebackers coach Ken Norton and offensive line coach Pat Ruel.
Instead, Carroll, who talked to his now-former players before his press conference, reviewed his nine years at USC and thanked everyone -- really, everyone -- around the program, from players, to administrators, to fans, to people who work for his charity, to police officers, to his beat reporters, etc.
He called his years at USC "gorgeous times" "a marvelous run."
"It hurts to separate right now," he said.
He said he's separating, however, because his competitive fire won't let him pass up "the challenge of a lifetime."
Carroll denied that he is leaving because of the football program's NCAA issues, as well as his widely reported schism with Garrett.
"If you say something else, you are not telling the truth," he said.
He didn't provide many details about his meeting with the Trojans players.
"For the guys that are here right now, it's a bit of a shock that this is happening," he said. "But they're strong. They're tough. They'll compete to take the next step."
Now the next step for USC is hiring a new coach coach to replace a man who produced one of the greatest runs in college football history.
For Carroll, it's about taking his competitive fire to the "highest and most intense level."
It wasn't an easy decision to make.
"There's nothing easy about it," he said. "My body is in shock. My emotional side is in shock. I haven't slept in days."