Carroll closed the book on those arguments Sunday. Then at his Monday morning post-Super Bowl XLVIII news conference, he harkened back to his USC days.
"This game was very similar to the Oklahoma game," Carroll said of his 55-19 beat down of the Sooners in the 2005 Orange Bowl. "This game was similar to the multiple Rose Bowl championship games. It was just like those games. It felt like it. It looked like it. The score was like it. The offense, the defense, the special teams.
"So something was going on, but I can't tell you exactly what it is," Carroll continued. "Something's going on because I sat back there at the end of the first quarter, and (thought), 'Oh shoot, here it goes.' And the score -- bang, bang, bang, it was 22-0 at halftime.
"So there's a lot to it. We're very proud of it. I'm thrilled that we've seen it one area and we've been able to bring it to the NFL and recreate it. And for the fans that have watched us over the years in Southern California, I would think they took great pride in what happened last night because they understand what they just watched."
Nearly every current Carroll-USC story is slowed by the sanctions that hit the program following the coach's departure. However, most USC fans have absolved Carroll of those wrongs, take pride in his recent accomplishments and root for him to succeed. (And, yes, I'll note here that I spent two years at USC for grad school, so my sources on this take are solid.)
"There's no fan base that deserves this more," he said. "Nobody worked harder at supporting their team with more passion and love and spirit than ours ... Let's shut down the darn schools. Let's go shut the businesses down. Let's have a darn celebration peacefully, and rightfully, and in great fashion, but with a lot of music, and a lot of fun and great enjoyment and creating the memory that everyone deserves."