I watched the Trojans beat down Virginia and Ohio State this season. They look great. A dominant defense, electrifying offense, a smart coach, good QB, etc. They had all the tools and every picked them to cruise to the national championship game.
And what happened? They completely chocked the next game in a classic "trap" game. I read the Pete Carroll even saw the game in Oregon as a trap game months ahead of time and still couldn't prevent it from happening. This has happened each of the last two years, when USC lost to UCLA and Stanford, each time keeping them from the national championship game.
They basically have one game (at least) a season where they just don't show up offensively. They lost 13-9 to UCLA, 28-27 to Stanford (4 picks by Booty), and didn't score in the first half of this recent debacle.
So whats the deal? Why can't they win? I think the reason lies in Pete Carroll. I don't think he has the manic desire to win that is requried to stay at the top of the mountain. I remember reading that the thing he liked about college football was that if he lost, nobody cared. If they didn't win the national championship the attitude was "oh well, maybe next year".
This is related to what I think it takes to win consistently at the very top of the class, to beat all challengers again and again: an unhealthy, irrational, manic desire to win above all else. It is so extreme it is almost a character flaw.
Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart and a multi-billionaire, was so obsessed with his company that even on his deathbed he was busy working on prices and figuring out a way to better his company and make more money.
The book I read applauded him for this. But really, doesn't that seem irrational? To be worrying about the price of deodorant in one's store while family members are crowded around you, seems insane to me. And thats why Pete Carroll likely won't win another national championship, unless he does so by accident. He's not insane. He is human.