I thought that myself when I read that article that talked about a Data Scientist(tm)
I have not seen it covered in print anywhere but I have heard Bill Cowher's name mentioned again n a few circles....I know he was rumored at one point right after he retired from the Steelers .....and now they are back.....any thoughts? any ties to U of M in any way?
Cowher's name gets thrown around by any school looking for a new coach these days, but AFAIK there has never been any official or unofficial but insider-sanctioned indication that Cowher was a serious candidate. It seems unlikely Cowher's interested in returning to coaching at all; he now lives in North Carolina but turned down NC State, his alma mater, last offseason.
I agree that this year sucked, and a large part of the blame has to go to the coaching staff, for reasons that you've documented and that are painfully reiterated on your message boards every day. Perhaps this year would have gone better if this staff was coaching the team. However, I don't think you can blame Coach Carr for hanging on too long. When should he have retired? Maybe after the 2005 season? I
suppose. But we have to remember how last season went. There may have been mutterings about Debord's playcalling and that sort of thing over the course of the 11-0 start, but only the most horribly pessimistic of Michigan fans were calling for Lloyd's head amid the Yakety Saxing of Notre Dame, the gutty win over that otherwise-perfect Wisconsin team, and the AMFB assassination of Morelli. 2006 was a great season.
The OSU game was a classic, a well-coached, evenly-played game that might have gone differently had a safety stepped up to make a tackle, or had a questionable late hit not been called, or had any number of things happened. Not that OSU didn't deserve to win, but still, you can't have expected Lloyd to retire after that.
The Rose Bowl might have been a sign of a washed-up coaching staff, but it was just one game, and a coach who loses his confidence and drive after one bad game is one who never gets a job at Michigan in the first place. Plus, retiring in January could have seriously hurt last year's recruiting class, and as rough as this year was, what
would have happened had Mallett and Warren decommitted and Carlos Brown transferred? Plus, he was returning perhaps the best back in Michigan history, a fourth-year starter at quarterback with a rocket arm and robot nerves, a severely badass first round pick at left tackle, and at least two big-time receivers, and going into what promised to be down years for ND and OSU. You projected and 11-1 season. You can't blame Lloyd for giving it one more go.
Should he have retired right after Appalachian State or Oregon? I say no. You say Mike and Chad and Jake deserved better than this, and I think Lloyd had their best interests at heart when he decided to stick out the season. Stability in the coaching staff was probably still the best chance they had to salvage a Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl win, considering that anarchy seemed to be breaking out in the locker
room, and landing a top out-of-the-program coach in mid-September would be very, very difficult. Lloyd's resignation would have led to Debord or English as interim head coach, which would likely not have resulted in any more wins this year, and would mean that the interim coach would be more likely to be retained. I know for a fact that you don't want Mike Debord or Ron English to be the next Michigan head coach because I've seen a picture of your trapper keeper.
That was way longer than I meant it to be. Part of it is me venting after watching the presser; part of it is me procrastinating work. So take it for what you will. But I would like to know when you think Lloyd should have resigned. I think that he knows exactly when to quit, and that this is the perfect time. Yeah, he was stubborn and arrogant and made questionable hires and retentions and all that, but I believe that knowing when to go, and doing it with dignity and class, should preserve his legacy as a guy who loved Michigan and put the best interest of the program before his own arrogance and stubbornness as well as he could.
John makes a convincing case here that I won't disagree with entirely. I do think leaving at the right time is leaving before you have a year like this one; Carr wanted to leave after last year and probably should have.
There's plenty of evidence Carr lost his fastball after the OSU game last year. Michigan was beset by an unprecedented rash of discipline issues from Chris Richards to Johnny Sears to Eugene Germany to Carson Butler to Mario Manningham. The special teams, other than Zoltan (praise be his name) and Kicking Competency Lopata, were atrocious. The offensive line was throughly whipped at key positions and forced to re-insert a clearly out of shape Alex Mitchell late in the year with predictable results. Michigan was completely unprepared to take on a I-AA foe in the first game of the year. All of these things point to a team that suddenly went from pretty well coached to very poorly coached, probably because Carr didn't have the energy for the job anymore.
I know he said he wasn't tired in the press conference, but he also said...
"...I still have a great passion for the game and the players and the competition. But I also know that there are some things that I don't have anymore. So, it's time. That's all I can say to you."
...which is basically "I'm tired and can no longer execute all the things I need to if I am to keep this job." This is a remarkably self-aware thing to think and perhaps Michigan's saving grace in a situation that could have gotten (more) depressing if extended indefinitely. See also: Penn State, Florida State. Carr stayed on a year too long, IMO; John's right in thinking this would have been really hard to perceive in anything other than hindsight.
I was wondering if you (or gsimmons et. al.) might expound on the philosophy of a "running" quarterback in college versus preparing for the professional game.
I had the opportunity to watch the WVU â€“ Cincinnati and Texas Tech â€“ Oklahoma games on Saturday evening. Obviously, Pat White, Ben Mauk and the TT quarterback (name escapes me) are very active within their offensive schemes. Yet, this does not seem to be something that's valued at the professional level. Michael Vick had limited success. So, if one the purposes of college football is too groom quarterbacks for the pros and the professional teams do not embrace that offensive philosophy, why implement it? As a high school quarterback, whose ultimate goal is the NFL, I'd be leery of a scheme that would not prepare me for that level.
Am I totally confused or is there some merit to my thought process?
The thing with Michael Vick (and, to some extent, Vince Young) is that neither of them would be in the NFL if they didn't have the athleticism they do. A certain subset of quarterbacks are only NFL prospects because of their combination of arm and legs; it's hard to envision a system that would have prepared Vince Young or Michael Vick better given their skillsets. They have to be on the field, and the best way to keep them on the field is to start them off with simple things they can do and expand those things as their skills improve. You could clearly see this trajectory with Young, who went from a glorified running back to an actual quarterback over the course of his time at Texas. (Michael Vick's two-year supernova was too brief to detect any real development.)
So no, I don't think guys like Vick or Young or this year's uber-recruit Terrelle Pryor look at an offensive system predicated on taking advantage of their mobility as a negative. If forced into Michigan's offense they would likely fail, and benched guy
s don't often make the NFL.
There is a theory out there that seems plausible, though: as more and more teams move to the spread option, appealing places for the Peyton Mannings and Tom Bradys narrow, increasing the chances Michigan has at a smooth progression of highly-touted pocket passers. Personally, I would rather Michigan recruit whoever wants to come and fit the offense to their skills rather than adhere solely to one archetype, and Miles appears to agree.
I thought I would drop you a note to tell you a short story about Lloyd Carr, given that he is retiring today and given that you are the guy that broke that story. I am a 36 year old attorney in Chicago. I didn't go to the UofM for college or law school. My Dad, however, grew up in Dexter, Michigan (just outside Ann Arbor) and attended Michigan's law school between 1964 and 1967. He developed a life-long love for Michigan football. In 1979, when I was 8, he took me to my first game, a 49-0 shellacking of Northwestern. I was hooked. For the next 28 years there has been no sports allegiance (or religious one for that matter) that I have valued more than the Big Blue. In the intervening years, my Dad and I watched some astonishing games in Ann Arbor -- the two that stick out most were our near upset of Miami in 1988 and the comeback I never believed possible against Michigan State in 2005. Tim B's ripping OSU for over 300 yards was also obviously a great moment.
In January 2006, my father was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. This was a crushing moment in the life of my father and my family. In the days and weeks that followed, we reeled. Several weeks after his diagnosis, I drafted a lengthy letter to Lloyd Carr explaining who my Dad was and what he was going through. In an utter shot in the dark, I asked if he wouldn't mind placing a cold call to my Dad to give him a pep talk and tell him to hang in there. Several weeks later, Lloyd Carr left a message on my folks' machine at their home, offering his words for encouragement. In a bit of irony, my Mom (not understanding the significance of the message) DELETED it before my Dad could hear it. But still, I was pretty darn impressed that Lloyd had responded to that letter out of the blue and placed a call to a man he didn't even know.
Here is where, in my mind, an already great story gets better. Lloyd called back. About a week later, he made a second attempt to reach my Dad, this time calling from his car phone. He reached my sister instead and left a message. My Dad was touched to the core by Lloyd's overtures. I, for one, was pretty surprised that a person with Lloyd's schedule wouldn't consider one attempt to reach out sufficient. It speaks volumes.
You can say a lot of things about Lloyd Carr. But can you say more than that he is the type of person who will pick up the phone and call someone he doesn't even know in order to help them along? I don't think so. Aside from the national championship, the top recruiting classes, the top 10 winning percentage, the great record against the Top 10 -- at core, Lloyd Carr is a good human being who cares about others, even others he does not know. As Lloyd announces his retirement today, and for days hereafter, I will never, ever forget what he did for my Dad. If you want to share this story with others, feel free. If not, read it knowing that it's additional evidence for how lucky we were to have Lloyd Carr as part of the Michigan pantheon.
Last November Lloyd Carr stood in a steel-gray Michigan Stadium to eulogize his mentor and friend Bo Schembechler. This is who Carr is when not beset by irritants on all sides; it stands as a tribute to both men.
Michigan is not going to replace this.
In many ways, Carr was an accidental coach. But not in all ways.
Parsing. Michigan Sports Center has helpfully provided a transcript of the Carr press conference. Notes of interest:
"Before I take any questions I do want to address one issue of the timing of this announcement. My timing is based on one thing: What's best for Michigan. What's best for Michigan football. There are no other motives. This announcement is made at a time when the recruiting process can be handled in a way that this program can go forward. To do it any later, to do it after a bowl game, would've been absolutely ridiculous. I did it for this program, as I've tried to make all of the decisions that I've made since I've come here. So, any of those rumors about anything else... This is much to big to be about me or somebody that's gonna coach here, and I want to make that clear."
This is obviously a direct response to the irresponsible speculation going on in the mainstream media about what the timing of Carr's announcement says about his relationship with Les Miles; Carr later pointed out the precise rationale behind the "this is for recruiting" claim:
"Rather than me go out and waste visits - a head coach only gets one visit when he goes in to a recruit's home or in to his high school - this timing will enable, when that coach is named, [him to] immediately go and visit those kids and secure those commitments. Plus, we have 7 or 8 left that we wanted. It's about holding on to a recruiting class. Because if this recruiting class falls apart, 4 years from now there's a hole in Michigan football. The only important thing here is this program. It's not about me. It'd be easier for me to wait, because I wouldn't have to be here today. It's about this recruiting [class]."
If Carr were to stay on he'd either have to waste those visits or inexplicably not take them. Carr was asked directly about Miles:
"When it gets to discussing any potential candidates, I defer to Bill Martin. This process will be developed and executed by Bill, so I'm not going to get into all of the things that are his job.
I can say that there's a lot of things happening along the recruiting trail. It's a very competitive business. Those are things that you put to rest. For some of those rumors that are out there, I'm not going to answer all of them. I'm not going to talk about candidates, because that's not my job. I do want to make it clear that I'm not here to name the coach and all of that baloney that some of you have written."
This is as close as we'll ever get to an admission from Carr that he was pissed off by some of his head-to-head battles with Miles over certain recruits, most prominently cornerback Jai Eugene, who decommitted from Michigan to attend LSU late in the year. So, yeah, Carr would probably prefer someone else, but he's also made it clear that it's not his call. Also, irresponsible speculation is again bashed. For shame. Hang thy heads low, ink-stained wretches, hang thy heads low.
Carr said two things about the program going forward: Miles is not my favorite; I won't interfere if he's the choice. Given the widespread support for Miles amongst other important players (both literally and financially), that should be a small hurdle.
Meanwhile... Bill Martin also did his share of media-talking, taking what looks like a direct shot at the man in Palo Alto:
"I want to know how many driving-under-the-influence (citations) a potential coach has had," he said. "I want to know if he's a deadbeat in terms of paying his bills. I want to know anything that is a pattern in terms of past behavior that could be an embarrassment to Michigan."
That number is "one" for Harbaugh, two less than his count in the all-important "public outbursts that accuse the program of impropriety" category. Next.
The NYT delves into this issue more specifically:
"It was very disappointing to me," Martin said of those comments. "It clearly did not reflect Michigan and I think if you were to talk to his teammates from that era, they would think the same."
When asked if that would hurt Harbaugh's candidacy, Martin said with a sarcastic laugh, "Brilliant Brilliant."
(Have we signed a secret marketing agreement with Guinness?) Not that this is news, but Michigan isn't going to hire a guy who's won three games in I-A.
Mas. Also from Martin:
Martin said he hoped to have a new coach by the end of the year.
"That would be great," Martin said.
... "I want to find a former high school history teacher," he said, "because that's what Lloyd is." Martin said he probably could find coaches who would equal Carr's winning percentage of .752. "But will they represent the university in all the ways Lloyd has?" Martin said. "That is going to be tough." ...
"After an emotional loss, what do they say? How do they look?" Martin said. "Those are the important things." ...
"It's far more than just winning on Saturday," he said. "These positions aren't jobs. They are a way of life."
The "coach by the end of the year" thing is mildly alarming. More later. Now, bitchy copyediting snark opp:
He said he would consider paying the next coach $2-3 million a year, commiserate with the top salaries in the game.
And one last article highlights an area certain rumored candidates are deficient in:
Head coaching experience: "You've got to have experience to come here. This is the winningest college football program in history. Lloyd has pushed that percentage rate up. To me that's the benchmark. This is not time to experiment (with coaches). This has to be a very careful, considered process."
This would eliminate Mike Trgovac, not that he seemed a serious candidate to begin with.
Back to the now. The idea that Michigan will press Miles for a departure soon after the SEC Championship Game is beginning to take hold in certain places, including some insider mutterings (insider mutterings that, I would like to make clear, in no way constitute anything remotely solid) that are beginning to make their way across the internets.
Miles' most recent press conference, the one in which he steadfastly refused to answer questions about his coaching future, had an interesting interlude related to this:
"It's unfair to Michigan to say that they should. It's unfair to me and my team. I promise you this, what I'm doing is what you should do â€” let it rest. I'm playing football for LSU. I love this team."
Miles teared up and paused for 15 seconds before composing himself. "And I'll not do anything to hurt it," he said as his voice broke. "Any questions?"
Miles finds himself in a difficult position. The job he's always coveted has come open for the first time in 40 years; this is his only opportunity to ever
be head coach at Michigan. Remarkably, he is kinda sorta busy leading his current team to a potential national title.
I don't like the idea of Michigan pressing Miles to leave LSU while the national title remains in play. If the Tigers lose before bowl season, sure, pick him off and move on, but a national title is too rare an opportunity to trifle with. Miles is clearly broken up about potentially screwing this up for his players and LSU in general; if we're serious about maintaining the integrity Martin lauds as a key component of the Carr era and the program going forward we should acquire Miles in a fashion that does the least damage possible to our new coach's current set of kids. Get a commitment from him, then let him finish the year.
Besides, hiring the coach of the reigning national champions would be a PR coup that would offset whatever disadvantages there are to hiring a coach January 8th instead of in mid-December. There's a two-week recruiting dead period at the end of the year, so the functional difference there is two or three weeks at most. Michigan should wait it out.
"To give you an analogy: You always know you're going to die one day,'' punter Zoltan Mesko said. "But it's a different feeling when that day is actually here.''
Haven't you self-scouted, son? Oh, Notre Dame fans, you are so deeply hilarious at all times:
After 13 years in Ann Arbor, Llloyd Carr is withdrawing early and running like hell.
Lots of talk will circulate, as it already has, about Les Miles taking Llloyd's place, but frankly we at HLS can't imagine why anyone would want to take this job, in the middle of such a nightmare scenario. As Llloyd Carr has proven over the course of 13 years, you can't do much more than kinda, sorta win half a national title and a few conference titles in an extremely mediocre conference.
Indeed. Michigan in the Carr era: 121-40, one national championship, two BCS bowl wins, five conference titles, five bowl wins, no losing seasons. Notre Dame over that same span of time: 94-62, no national championships, no bowl wins, four losing seasons. Michigan's "nightmare scenario" -- 8-4 -- is better than Notre Dame has done 6 of the past 11 years.
Also hilarious. College Football News has fallen off the radar around these parts recently, but it used to be a regular target of derision for a simple reason: it regularly publishes the dumbest stuff you can think of about college football. Pete Fiutak on the Michigan job search:
For all you LSU fans worrying about the distractions with the Michigan head coaching job opening up, let me help you sleep well tonight.
Les Miles absolutely, positively will NOT be the next head football coach at the University of Michigan.
Wow, he must have some super secret inside sources and a really good reason for saying this...
We're talking about IBM here. We're talking about North Carolina basketball. We're talking about a football program that's the equivalent of a dish of vanilla ice cream topped off with a vanilla wafer while being cheered on by 111,941 fans about as boisterous as a glass of warm milk. Miles would be a double dose of rainbow sprinkles, and that's not Michigan football.
...or he could just be making stuff up so he can deploy his awesome rainbow sprinkles analogy. This isn't nearly as bad as Matt Zemek's column/novella on the Georgia-Florida game, which I believe to be the worst single item ever written about sports, (it's apparently disappeared from CFN, or at least the link has changed, so the previous is a message board C&P) but it's pretty mindbogglingly stupid.
(HT: The Diag.)
Argh, stupid. The All Big Ten teams are fairly remarkable. Would you believe Chad Henne is the coaches' pick for All Big Ten? O rly? Ya rly. The media went with Boeckman; Kellen Lewis was second-team to both. I'm not about to comb through old All Big Ten teams, but this has to be the first time the teams have different first-team QBs who don't appear on the other team even in second place.
Also, this is a yearly complaint but whatever: the defensive teams are so frustrating. The media's first team All Big Ten defense has four defensive ends, three middle linebackers, and four cornerbacks. The coaches managed to get Iowa DT Mitch King on the first team but succumb to all corners and all MLBs, too. I could maybe see the argument that all linebackers are basically the same and the really good ones tend to get shoved into the all-important middle linebacker spot, but DEs != DTs and CBs != safeties. In the bowl interregnum I'll put together a second annual MGoBlog All Big Ten, and it will acknowledge the existence of, you know, reality.
Scheduling note: Light posting Wednesday; blog is off Thursday and Friday. UFR will be next week.
A clarification about this 1,000 word summary of the OSU game:
That screen capture comes from somewhere deep in the labrynthine comments of MGoBlog's tortured open thread, and may or may not indicate the reality of that specific play; the right side of Michigan's line looks like it could be charging downfield to set up a receiver screen, or it may just be doctored somehow to emphasize the larger reality it perfectly conveys: Michigan did not come close to blocking Ohio State, and though the Wolverine defense was significantly better the vast majority of the time, it was ultimately porous and beaten, too.
For the record, that was a handoff to Mike Hart, and the picture is not doctored.
Wooo! Michigan's likely bowl destinations:
Now Michigan's most likely destination appears to be the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio or Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando.
"At best, they'd be looking at the Alamo Bowl,'' said Frank Frana, an official with the Capital One Bowl. "At best.''
Ubiquitous. Yes, I have heard that Miles' wife bought a home in Barton Hills or Dexter or Chelsea or wherever, as have 80% of MGoBlog's readers if the email flood about it is any indication. It's always a friend of a friend thing, though, and no one has stepped forth as a primary source.
Our local Auburn fan has much more experience with crazy job searches and says that "Coach X's wife bought a home in tony area Y" is a standard opening salvo that doesn't really mean much other than "your team is looking for a new head coach." Advice: proceed skeptically.
Riposte. Friday I mentioned the rapidly-spreading meme that Carr announcing his retirement now either damages or entirely kills Les Miles' chance at the job. Stewart Mandel's got it, so you know it must be true! Carty responds indirectly:
And, no, the issue isn't that Michigan couldn't wait. If Bill Martin decided Les Miles was his No. 1 choice, he could certainly sit tight ... but every day he did that, the pressure on, and circus surrounding, Miles would grow larger and larger. I just don't think he could simply refuse to answer questions about Michigan as the job sits open and LSU gears up for the title game. There would be tremendous pressure on him to withdraw from consideration from an administration and fanbase that's still got a huge inferiority complex after being dumped by Mr. Saban.
Even if he did manage to hold out, he'd be blamed from coast to coast if LSU then lost in the title game.
Bottom line? It's a no-win situation for Miles and Michigan fans coveting him if Carr announces his retirement any time prior to late December or early January.
This is completely unconvincing, IMO.
One: This is a classic example of overrating the importance of the media. The "circus" surrounding Miles has been in full effect since the Appalachian State game and he has pointedly refused to come out and say he is staying. Result? LSU is #1. The marginal effect of a blizzard of newspaper articles on a football team is microscopic, if not zero. Glenn Dorsey isn't going to slack off because Miles might leave.
Two: The point at which LSU fans had any illusion Miles would be their coach next year has long past. Check any message board or blog: the opinion Miles is gone, gone, gone is virtually unanimous. They seem to be mostly okay with this.
Three: Carty says Miles couldn't refuse to answer questions about the Michigan job... and justifies that in no way whatsoever. He has already done so. Today he specifically told someone in his press conference not to ask him about other jobs. I wouldn't be surprised if some time in the next week he politely tells the assembled media corps he will not address any issues other than his team and their preparations for the rest of the season. End of circus.
Four: Carr retiring in late December or early January still gives the media enough time to get the circus up and going before the national title game... so what's the difference?
This entire thing is kind of ridiculous. There isn't a person alive other than Kige Ramsey who thinks Miles won't crawl to Ann Arbor over broken glass and bullet ants if he's offered the job. If Michigan has decided he's the guy, they should tell LSU's athletic department and allow the LSU AD to determine what course of action to pursue. Options:
- Pull a Bo, dump Miles for interim HC Bo Pelini.
- Keep it quiet, maintaining the existing status quo.
- Make a formal announcement, removing all doubt and allowing them to get started on their search.
#1 would leave LSU short a coach and in the hands of a first-time head man on a national championship run. #2 is annoying but SOP. #3, IMO, would be the best way to proceed. LSU fans understand the "run home to momma" effect and don't seem peeved at all; the kids are still playing for their own glory.
One thing we can be sure of: whatever happens, Miles will get roasted by the same sort of columnists who love talking about gritty dirty gritful David "Grit" Eckgritstein should LSU lose.
Jebus. Yet another NYT article on the stadium renovations -- they're covering this more closely than Iraq. I only mention it to highlight another deceitful John Pollack quote:
"Clearly, the University of Michigan felt it is more important to accommodate millionaires in luxury boxes than it is to guarantee equal access to the stadium for disabled fans," said John Pollack, who organized a group called Save the Big House.
Yes, of course, as if the two items have anything to do with each other.
Recruits. Time to start panicking? Maybe, maybe not. Instate commits Kenny Demens, Boubacar Cissoko, and Dann O'Neill all reaffirmed their commitments to Michigan today. PA LB/RB Christian Wilson, however, said something about re-opening his recruitment earlier, and PA WR/KR Cameron Saddler and LB/DE Shayne Hale have eliminated Michigan. (HT: Varsity Blue.)
Etc.: ong> Best AA Gameday signs -- my personal favorite is "we can afford sleeves"; Angelique Chengelis talks about her interactions with Carr; GS says goodbye, Lloyd; MnB on the game; Braves and Birds diagnoses all the fail.
11/17/2007 - Michigan 3, Ohio State 14 - 8-4, 6-2 Big Ten
Saturday was wet and cold and miserable and had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Though other games have been more painful or less competitive, November 17th, 2007, stands alone in terms of sheer miserable boredom.
Michigan's best and most frequently deployed offensive player was the punter. There was one event of significance in the entire game, that being Chris Wells' game-sealing 62 yard touchdown run; once Tressel got his 11 point lead he decided he was done for the day. Ohio State threw two second-half passes, neither of which landed within ten yards of an eligible receiver. Even the flyover was canceled due to the weather, a particularly nasty near-freezing drizzle that crept into your bones by halftime.
These were the impairments to enjoyment inflicted on the viewing public at large. A couple insults were added to injury in my section. Invading Buckeye fans took to standing on the wet, rickety bleachers, providing the interested observer with the choice of getting up on the bench yourself, thus drawing the ire of everyone behind you, or peering through a thicket of heads to see the "action." (Scare quotes smarmy but 100% required.) Behind us two solid rows of central Ohio's finest truck drivers and forklift operators hooted constantly, literally saying "ain't nuttin' wrong with that" after every four yard Wells run. A good time was not had by all.
And so. And so what do you do with that?
One. In the aftermath I was -- am -- angry at Carr for hanging on too long, for bringing in a minimally qualified friend to coordinate the offense, for allowing his charges to put out an undisciplined, lackadaisical show time and again this year. This year is going to end in some rinky-dink December bowl. Michigan put up 91 yards of offense against Ohio State and lost for the fourth straight year. All of that's on Carr. Jake Long and Chad Henne and Mike Hart deserved better than what they got.
Carr was stubborn, arrogant, and loyal to a fault. There is no Carr coaching tree because the program is inbred.
Two. Carr was a curmudgeon in the best possible way. When it comes to calling out the hypocritical power structure of college football, he stands entirely alone. No other coach has called out the NCAA for adding a twelfth game while simultaneously protesting that a playoff is infeasible. No other coach has directly called for the players to get paid. He was a tireless advocate for his players and his program. Last November I sat in Michigan Stadium and listened to him eulogize Bo and wanted no one else to coach Michigan.
People unfamiliar with the program bash him for a lack of class because of post-game handshakes and halftime interviews gone awry as if "class" means putting a good face for stupid questions and meaningless gestures. No, he didn't like the media. But do you like the media? Carr was the best argument college football is about something other than violence and money the sport had.
And he won. Not lately, but he won.
There is an obvious split here. The first section is about Carr the coach; the second about Carr the man. I'll miss him sometimes, but mostly on Monday, not Saturday.
Lloyd Carr, the third-winningest coach in Michigan football history, will announce his retirement after 12-plus seasons as the Wolverines' head coach, players confirmed today.
The official announcement will likely come Monday morning at a 10 a.m. press conference held at the Junge Champions Center.
Carr told his players of his decision at a team meeting this afternoon.
"He's not going to be here any longer, but he enjoyed the moments that he had to spend with us," senior linebacker Chris Graham said. "It's a sad thing to hear, but I enjoyed every moment of being here with him. He's a great coach to me. He's like another father figure. Just having him here is the whole reason why I came."
For what reminder I can provide: Lloyd deserves some sort of recognition; I hope the students can provide something. Go Blue.
Just two links, so go read them. It's required by law.
Great players' legacies should be based on their entire body of work, but even if I've never spent any time in the Upper Midwest, I know enough about the gleeful antagonism between Ohio State and Michigan to know that's not exactly how it works. Saturday is the last chance the kids who started together with such promise four years ago, and have largely lived up it, have to go out alongside Lloyd Carr without the oft-referenced albatross of being the "Michigan Men" who never beat Ohio State, never won a bowl game, never won the Big Ten outright (the 2004 title was a tiebreaker situation over co-champ Iowa) and ultimately never capitalized on tthe full possibilities.
Tomorrow, it is over for them all, it is over for this era, this dynasty, however plagued by the ability to let us down it might have been. The dynasty that won our hearts and little else, it is over for them.
Oh, and... two sources indicate that the Scouts, Inc., report on Hart is excessively pessimistic: Hart will definitely start, as will Henne. It'll be up to their respective joints to hold up, but they're playing.
At around 3:00 on November 18th, 2006, I sat in the student section of Ohio Stadium and barely succeeded in not dissolving into a heap of tears worthy of Tammy Faye Baker as various bands and people paid tribute to Bo Schembechler. At that moment, the game that was about to unfold was quite literally the most important thing that ever had or ever would happen in my life. Michigan had to win.
Or what? Or I don't know what.
Five hours later I stood outside a Columbus 7-11 as the city, red-lit and ominous, exploded in hedonistic joy for their demon-coach and his demon-team. I waited for a man named Skeeter who would never come and silently decided that the true essence of adulthood was the realization that horrible things just happen and keep happening and they are unfair and there is no redemption at the end of things, ever, just more horrible things to have happen to you and the people you care about. And that "realization" is the right word there, not acceptance, because the things that are horrible are just unacceptable but they are real and you have to deal with them anyway.
I was a little melodramatic, maybe.
Or at least, that's what I thought. In September when I watched Chad Henne loft a prayer to Mario Manningham from the exit of section 44 -- I, wishing to flee the disaster scene as fast as possible, had bolted from my seat as soon as Appalachian State drew within chip-shot field goal range, content to watch the final throes from up above -- only for Shawn Crable to violate a basic principle of football 101 ("don't let that asshole block the field goal"), I revised my previous theory to something simpler: God is bored, and we are the ants under the magnifying glass.
Going into this year I had simple desires. I wanted to beat Ohio State, I wanted to win a BCS bowl, and I wanted Lloyd Carr to sail off into the sunset a respected, though probably not exactly revered, old jedi, Obi-Wan-style. And I wanted to see Mike Hart run. Shockingly, all these things remain on the table for Michigan if they can beat Ohio State, which -- as detailed earlier today -- the old brain thinks is pretty damn unlikely. And to fail one last time when everything is on the line... well... just fuck, man.
So I'm tired, and I'm sad, and I don't think any of us is going to get what we want. Maybe that's just detachment and preparing myself for defeat so it's easier when it actually comes but I don't think so. Because it's not easy to consider Mike Hart walking off that field a final time, head down, as Ohio State players clench roses in their teeth. It's not easy to envision Henne and Hart and Long and Manningham resigned to a dusky corner of Michigan history revisited only by force when economics professors go "WOOO 0-4 Mike Hart" in your face when they present their stupid studies about the AP poll at academic conference "WOOO 6-1 Jim Tressel".
But then there's Hart. Yesterday a Syracuse-area radio host called me for some quotes on Hart yesterday, and I obliged, objecting to the idea of "swagger" and describing Hart's career-in-microcosm eight-yarder against Penn State in 2005. A final question brought me short, though, something about the feelings of Michigan fans as Hart takes the field for the final time in Michigan Stadium. I don't recall the exact phrasing.
I stopped, and when I continued after a moment the words were halting, wavering, on the edge of collapse. What they were didn't matter. I can't encapsulate four years of glory and pain in three sentences. But a catch in the throat after an innocuous question can.
I am done thinking. Michigan is listless in the last days of a dying empire, but Mike Hart will run out of the tunnel and I will believe until I can't or I don't have to anymore. Go Blue.