As I was leaving the press box at the StubHub Center last December 19 to walk down the aisle toward the field for the final five minutes of the CIF Division I state bowl game, I couldn’t help but notice that also leaving and walking directly in front of me was legendary Oceanside head coach John Carroll.
Carroll certainly didn’t want to be heading down at that point, either, but his team was in the midst of a 68-7 loss to Folsom.
Now, after today, when Carroll has told his players that he is retiring after 26 seasons at Oceanside, I just wonder if he knew then that he had left the press box for the last time as a head coach.Carroll’s legacy at his school includes 22 straight CIF San Diego Section semifinal appearances, 13 section titles (including a streak of seven in a row) plus CIF state crowns in 2007 and 2009.
It’s fair to say that had we known that Carroll was retiring that we would have been more inclined to choose him as State Coach of the Year. He was still considered, but it was just too hard with a 68-7 loss in the final game.
Before the 2013 season, Carroll turned in a team form to us and included his overall coaching record showing four more wins and 26 losses from what was reported from Oceanside. That prompted a phone call in which he explained that his first head coaching job was at Kennedy of La Palma in Orange County and he was almost apologetic about it.
This is why in all the stories in San Diego today about Carroll his coaching record is being reported at 248-75-6 while in the Cal-Hi Sports record book it is going to be shown at 252-101-6. The higher totals simply includes those three seasons at Kennedy and as Carroll will tell you those teams were just not very good. His first varsity season, in fact, is shown as an 0-10 season at Kennedy.
Considering what he went on to do at Oceanside (248-75-6 in 26 seasons), how he became such a force and that he started 0-10 is perhaps even more of a testament to how good of a coach he became.
Carroll’s start reminds me of the one by Super Bowl winning head coach Mike Holmgren. He began as an assistant at Sacred Heart Cathedral in San Francisco and during that time the team lost 30 straight games. He went on to become an assistant at Oak Grove of San Jose (which went 15-1 in one season), then to San Francisco State, then to BYU, then to the 49ers and finally to the Packers to be a head coach.
Like Concord De La Salle’s Bob Ladouceur continuing to coach at his school in a lesser capacity, let’s hope Carroll can still contribute to the youth of Oceanside in a similar fashion. His health is obviously the No. 1 priority in all of this, but Ladouceur has made it work in Concord after retiring as a head coach.