Sources: Carroll interested in Falcons

Blank is expected to offer full control of personnel decisions to Carroll and the sources said that is what intrigues Carroll most. Carroll is currently on vacation in Hawaii.

The Falcons' interest in talking to Carroll about their opening was first reported Tuesday night by's Len Pasquarelli.

Carroll, who has previously been a head coach in the NFL with the New York Jets and New England Patriots, is the biggest name on the list of Atlanta candidates.

Carroll, 56, recently completed his seventh season at Southern California with a resounding victory over Illinois in the Rose Bowl. He has led the Trojans to two national championships and compiled a 76-14 record. The 14 defeats have been by an average of just 4.1 points.

Southern California was 11-2 this season and many observers felt that, had it not been for injuries, the Trojans might have vied for the national title. Carroll's .844 winning mark at Southern California is the best in the nation among active coaches with at least five seasons of experience.

Over the past few seasons, there has been rampant speculation that Carroll might be lured back to the NFL, but he has rebuffed all overtures to return to the pro game. Conventional wisdom is that Carroll would only consider an NFL job if he had full control over the football operation.

In his first NFL head coaching stint, Carroll lasted just one season with the Jets, taking the team to a 6-10 record in 1994. He coached the Patriots for three seasons, 1997-99, and was 28-23, with one division title and two playoff berths.

The Falcons suffered a bad experience this season with a coach hired from the college ranks, when Bobby Petrino, formerly of Louisville, resigned with three games remaining to fill the Arkansas vacancy. But unlike Petrino, who had been an NFL assistant for three seasons, Carroll has prior head coaching experience in the league and was an assistant coach and defensive coordinator for 12 years as well.

In the past, Carroll has listened to NFL interest from Miami, San Diego, San Francisco, Arizona and Houston.

Joe Schad covers college football for ESPN. Information from's Len Pasquarelli was used in this report.

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