Mac Engel

January 18, 2014

Genius Bar looks at Pete Carroll, the Mavs’ collapse and more

Need proof that Pete Carroll gets a say in the Seahawks’ personnel decision? Russell Wilson is the starter.

Pete Carroll will never come to Valley Ranch, but he has a lesson for Jerry Jones, and many NFL owners.

In 2004, Carroll had USC rolling, and it seemed that he would never return to the NFL. When I interviewed Carroll in LA late that year, however, he said the only way he would return to the NFL to be a head coach again was if he had power in player personnel.

“Very few guys get that. You have to win the Super Bowl to get that opportunity,” Carroll told me that day. “Without it, I would never coach under those circumstances again.”

Carroll had coached the Jets for one year in 1994; three years later, he replaced Bill Parcells as the head coach of the Patriots because Carroll agreed not to have the final say with owner Bob Kraft over “who bought the groceries.”

Upon returning to the NFL in 2010 as the head coach of the Seahawks, Carroll was given a say in personnel decisions with GM John Schneider.

Proof that Carroll has a voice: In March 2012, the Seahawks handed quarterback Matt Flynn a three-year contract, $10 million guaranteed. A few months later, the team selected Russell Wilson in the third round of the draft. Despite Flynn’s massive contract, Carroll handed Wilson the starting job.

Not sure if Jerry, or many owners, would have ever permitted such a move because of the financial investment in Flynn.

But Carroll’s personnel move has worked. The Seahawks are 24-8 with Wilson as the starting quarterback and will play the 49ers on Sunday in Seattle for a spot in Super Bowl XLVIII in two weeks. Carroll is also living proof that you do not have to be a bullying bore of a human being to win in the NFL.

Carroll explained to me about the differences between coaching in college and the pros: “There is a difference between the level of seriousness here and the NFL. People are way out of whack in the NFL. It doesn’t mean you are going to play better because you are more serious. It’s the end result.”

It turns out a coach who enjoys his job — and has a major say on personnel — can win.

Calderon > Collison

Watching the Dallas Mavericks gag away another huge lead against the Los Angeles Clippers last week was especially nauseating. That makes the second collapse to the Clippers this month. Check out the point guards involved.

Chris Paul, the player the Mavs were hoping to sign when they gutted their title-winning team, was not on the floor for a lot of the first choke on Jan. 3, and none of the second one.

Instead, former Mavs point guard Darren Collison rallied the Clippers in both games.

On Wednesday, the Clippers came back from 17 points down in the final five minutes for a 129-127 win. Collison scored 13 points with 10 assists.

On Jan. 3, the Mavs led the Clippers by seven points with less than four minutes remaining, and CP3 was already out with a shoulder injury suffered in the third quarter. Collison scored 20 points with four assists.

Jose Calderon, the point guard the Mavs signed in the off-season to a four-year contract, was outplayed by Collison in both games.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle did not trust Collison, who is too erratic and never displayed the type of necessary point-guard skills. He’s a good backup on a good team.

Calderon has been what he has always been — steady, smart, dull. He is averaging 12.1 points, just 1.2 turnovers and his 4.8 assists per game is considerably lower than his career average.

But with Calderon, the Mavs are “in the playoffs,” which apparently now is the gold standard. With Collison, the Mavs missed out.

Over the long haul, Calderon is the better point guard. But neither is particularly special.

The favorite

The last time Johny Hendricks fought he was the underdog in his title shot against UFC middleweight champion Georges St.-Pierre. Bigg Rigg, who lost a horrible five-round decision to GSP in November, is now the favorite.

With GSP on sabbatical, Hendricks should win a belt that should already be his. Hendricks will fight Robbie Lawler on March 15 at American Airlines Center in Dallas for the welterweight title.

“I’ve always been the hunter,” Hendricks said on Thursday at a promotional event for the title fight. “But I do enjoy being the prey.”

After holding off for several weeks, Hendricks finally watched his loss to GSP for the first time — just to see if he saw something that suggested he lost the fight, which he should not have.

He told me he didn’t.

He is right.

Expect him to beat Lawler.

Just say no to Bynum

General manager Donnie Nelson told our Dwain Price the Mavs have a “long, long, long shot” to sign free-agent center Andrew Bynum. For the Mavs’ sake, let’s hope those chances aren’t quite that good.

Bynum is a nightmare, who, in order to have any shot of succeeding, is going to require a locker room so strong it will not tolerate his boorish, often indifferent attitude.

The Mavs need a rim-protecting center — Samuel Dalembert is Just a Guy — but Bynum would be another case of a dopey ex-Laker who doesn’t want to be here. The only difference is that he is not married to a Kardashian ... yet.

Bynum can’t stay healthy, and he’s a bad teammate. There is a reason the Lakers traded him to the 76ers. There is a reason the 76ers did not re-sign him after he sat out the 2012-13 season with a bad knee. There is a reason the Cavaliers traded him to the Bulls only a few months after signing him to a two-year deal. There is a reason the Bulls cut him immediately.

He likes the money more than he likes the game.

Not about black, white

Texas Tech men’s basketball coach Tubby Smith is old enough to remember when there were separate bathrooms for whites and blacks.

“I went to school with three blacks — that was in 1969,” Smith told me last week.

As much as we would like the hiring of Charlie Strong as the football coach at Texas not to be a big deal, it is. He and Texas A&M football coach Kevin Sumlin are the two highest-paid employees in the state of Texas.

“It’s been long overdue, but those opportunities are there now,” Smith said. “You have to prove yourself. It’s not enough to just get there; what you have to do is continue to win, and you have to be productive.

“[Former Kentucky athletic director] C.M. Newton told me this: ‘Fans see Ws and Ls. Administration sees green, and are you keeping the program clean.’ ”

Lame joke

In Thursday’s edition of the Star-Telegram, I wrote a column that said when Derek Holland fell over his dog, it was just the beginning of The Nolan Ryan Curse. I wrote, “When the Rangers messed with Nolan, they tempted the baseball gods, a palindrome for dogs.”

This not only angered Ranger fans, but lovers of the English language.

No, technically “gods” and “dogs” is not an exact palindrome. My thinking was god=dog, and the higher power was the pup who got in Holland’s way, hence the same meaning.

That it required this much explanation demonstrates just how lame the line is. I’m not a smart man, but I know what a palindrome is.

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