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Falcons interested in Trojans' coach Carroll

POSTED: January 20, 2008 5:04 a.m.

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons are interested in Southern California coach Pete Carroll for their head coaching job.

A person familiar with the team’s coaching situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the Falcons want to speak with Carroll, who is on vacation in Hawaii. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Falcons have not officially met with Carroll.

Carroll spoke with USC sports information director Tim Tessalone on Wednesday and told Tessalone there are no developments worthy of comment.

"He reiterated that to me this morning on the phone," Tessalone said.

Last week, Carroll told reporters his name would be mentioned in speculation for NFL jobs. Carroll said then he wouldn’t fuel speculation by making comments.

"There’s nothing going on, no reason to even talk about it," Carroll said last week.

Carroll did not return a message left on his cell phone Wednesday.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank is looking for a coach for the second straight year. After firing Jim Mora a year ago, he hired Louisville coach Bobby Petrino. But Petrino lasted just 13 games before quitting to become the coach at Arkansas.

The Falcons finished 4-12, including a 1-2 mark with interim coach Emmitt Thomas, in a season overshadowed by quarterback Michael Vick’s indictment, guilty plea and sentencing to 23 months in federal prison for his role in an interstate dogfighting conspiracy.

Atlanta, also currently looking for a general manager, might be willing to offer Carroll control of player personnel decisions. That could be enough enticement for Carroll to talk with Blank or other team officials.

Former general manager Rich McKay was offered a two-year extension to remain as president through 2010.

Philadelphia general manager Tom Heckert interviewed with team officials Monday.

The Falcons have interviewed at least three coaching candidates: Dallas offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and two assistant head coaches, Jim Caldwell of Indianapolis and Tony Sparano of the Cowboys.

The Falcons plan to interview Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Smith and Tennessee defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.

Carroll has experience in the NFL as a head coach and as an assistant in addition to his tremendous success at USC. Carroll, 56, was 6-10 as coach of the New York Jets in 1994. He was 28-23 with a division title and two playoff appearances as coach of the New England Patriots from 1997-99.



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