Pete Carroll pumped his fist. He talked excitedly and forcefully. He chopped the air with his hands, commanding his new audience.
Even though he had stepped back up into the NFL, Carroll was still in charge -- which is exactly why he's in Seattle now instead of Southern California.
The charismatic Carroll took over as the Seahawks' new coach and executive vice president Tuesday, enthusiastically seizing an authority that he says mirrors the latitude that USC gave him to restore its dynasty.
"They have embraced my approach ... in a manner in which they want to wipe the path clear and give me the clearest opportunity to bring everything that I have to offer," Carroll said of the Seahawks, one day after his public farewell from USC. "That's really what I was looking for, the trust and belief from the top of the organization.
"They don't have an agenda of how they want their football played. They want me to do that. That's exactly and precisely what I was looking for."
After hugging current Seahawk and former USC defensive end Lawrence Jackson in the back of the auditorium, Carroll was breathless while describing how he snared the exact opportunity he has always wanted in the NFL -- but never believed he'd find after the New England Patriots fired him following three seasons as their coach through 1999.
"I am so fired up to be here today," Carroll said moments after Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke led him on a tour of the Seahawks' luxurious headquarters for the first time. "Right from the beginning, they undersold. This is a tremendous place to come to work."
Absorbing the scene and what the riches of Seahawks owner Paul Allen are affording him, Carroll said: "It's really almost dreamlike for me."
The coach who went 97-19 with two BCS national championships and seven consecutive Pac-10 titles while at USC wore a dark blue suit and paisley tie patterned in Seahawks green and blue.
The look was new, but the Seahawks promise that Carroll's role will be familiar.
"As guys get other jobs around the league, there isn't always that level of trust and communication from the top down, and there isn't always that willingness to let you do exactly what you feel and how you should do it," Carroll said. "That's what I've been given here -- and I can't tell you how excited I am about that. That is what I had at 'SC and is when I've had my best success."
Carroll had a quick answer for questions on why he's better suited for the NFL now than he was while going 6-10 for the New York Jets in 1994 and 27-21 with two playoff appearances in three seasons with the Patriots.
"Thirteen years ago, I took that job in New England -- 13 years ago!" Carroll said. "I've grown through this experience, and I know so much more clearly where I'm coming from. I was not at my best in New York -- I can't tell you how far I was then from where I am now. I was not at my best in New England. I think the Seahawks are benefiting now on what I went through. ... So I'm not the same. Hopefully, I'm better."
In the back of the room, Lawyer Milloy, who played for Carroll in New England, nodded his head. "He wants to right his wrongs," the Seahawks' 36-year-old safety said, referring to Carroll's NFL legacy.
Leiweke confirmed that Carroll will have authority on whom the Seahawks hire as their new general manager. Carroll and Leiweke were scheduled to conduct an afternoon interview with Omar Khan, a contract administrator with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Leiweke said Carroll will work for, but also "shoulder to shoulder" with the new GM, and the coach might have the final say on the hiring, depending on who the final candidate is.
The idea is to build a far more harmonious relationship than the fractured one that existed between former coach Mike Holmgren, who also was the Seahawks' GM from 1999 to 2002, and GM and president Tim Ruskell, whom the team forced to resign last month before it finished a 5-11 season.
Carroll also is assembling his staff, which will employ the same principles and even play terminology that the coach used at USC. He said he was eager to finish his news conference so he could run to call Alex Gibbs.
Carroll wants Gibbs to be his assistant head coach in charge of the offensive linemen who will use the zone run-blocking upon which Carroll wants to base his Seahawks offense.
"Alex called this morning and said he had a heck of an offer from Seattle, and I wished him the best," Kubiak said. "He did a great job for us, and heâll do a great job for them."
A source with knowledge of the situation told NFL Network's Jason La Canfora that the Seahawks had indeed hired Gibbs to be their offensive line coach.
Carroll also is bringing USC offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates to Seattle, presumably to do the same job with the Seahawks. USC linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. and offensive line coach Pat Ruel also are expected to join Carroll in Seattle.
La Canfora reports that New Mexico State coach DeWayne Walker remains a top candidate to become Carrollâs defensive coordinator, according to league sources. Walker was the first coach that Carroll hired when he came to USC in 2001.
One thing that Carroll said won't change on Seattle's offense is the quarterback.
Carroll said he's excited to have a signal-caller with as much experience as 34-year-old Matt Hasselbeck. Carroll emphasized that the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback is healthy after playing through a bad back, broken ribs and a sore passing shoulder as the Seahawks limped to a 9-23 record since their last playoff game in January 2008.
The Seahawks fired coach Jim Mora on Friday after less than 12 months on the job, at the end of the team's worst two-year stretch since 1992 and '93.
"I know it's going to be difficult," Carroll said. "And people from where I come from want to say, 'Gosh, why would you do that, when you win all the time in college football, and here you are going into the meat grinder in the NFL?' I'm ready. I couldn't be more excited about it. And I can't wait to get started."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.