There have been a couple of posts in the last week that have been responded to with lots of critisism of Coach Carr. While I understand that for some, it is a given that Coach Carr is a traitor to Michigan footballl because of what transpired during the RR years, I personally do not feel like there is anywhere near enough information available publically to make that conclusion.
While some suggest that Carr could speak up and clear up any misunderstandings, I personally think that is a gross oversimplification. For Carr's entire career, problems within the athletic department have been dealt with in house (I understand that many disagree with that appraoch and think it is part of the problem, it is however the way that the program has operated since long before Carr got here). Just because Carr chooses to continue to subscribe to that philosphy, it doesn't automatically make him a traitor. Furthermore, there are other reasons that Carr may not wish to speak up. First, he could believe that both now and in the past, it might have just made problems worse. Second, he might just be tired of fighting with critisism in the press (and maybe that's why he quit in the first place). On the second, I know that many people on this site also believe that because Carr was being paid by the University, he had an obligation to speak up. If it wasn't actually part of his job description and he thought it would make the situation worse, I don't know why this would be the case.
For me, trying to determine how much culpability Loyd Carr has in the whole RR situation has a great deal to do with two very large and unanswered questions from Three and Out.
First, when did Carr first let Martin know he wanted to retire? Three and Out suggests that some have said that he wanted to retire before the 2007 season, but that Martin denied this was the case. Even if Carr spoke up about this, it would still be his word against Martin's, however it seems to me that there is at least some evidence that this is the case. I believe thiat it was around March of 2007 that Carr's coaches were given contracts through February 28, 2009 (http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/football/bigten/2007-12-20-rodriguez-michigan-assistants_N.htm). That timing is consitent with a timeframe in which Martin would have been focused on hiring a basketball coach (the alleged reason that Martin asked Carr to stay on). If Carr was tired of coaching, it would help expalin, both the 2007 and 2008 recruiting and to a lesser extent the Appalachian State fiasco. It also would have been a major sacrifice on Carr's part to commit another year of 100 plus hour weeks to coaching. In retrospect, with the Appalachian State losses and all of the accusations of leaving the cupboard bare for his successor, it turned into not only a sacrifice of a year of his life, but also a major blemish on his legacy. Finally, if this is the way that things went down, it seems to taint anything that Martin has to say about the coaching hire and Carr;'s role in it (and would amplify how incredibly unprepared he was to handle the coaching search itself). Given the Appalachian State loss and all the heat that Carr took for it and the pathetic job that Martin did have handling it, I at least could see why Carr might have had some bitterness towards Michigan and may not have handled the situatoin as well as he otherwise could have. I also see how he might have felt that coming forward in defense of Rich Rod could have easily lead to even larger contreversy over the handling of the athletic department. If he had come forward and talked about how things went down, I'm not sure that weakening Martin would have really helped Rich Rod that much.
Second, what exactly was Carr's role in hiring of Rich Rod and when did things between Rich Rod and Carr go south? While Martin puts it all on Carr, if indeed Martin lied about when Carr told him he wanted to retire, Martin doesn't seem to be a particularly credible witness. While Rodriquez is a credible witness regarding the first discussion between Carr and RR and does strongly suggest that Carr was the first person to reach out, it doesn't provide any isnight into whether it was on Carr's own account or was related to Martin. Given Carr's concern about hiring Les Miles, he might have felt that Rich Rod was the lesser of two evils and that given how poorly Martin had already handled things and the fact that Mary Sue Coleman was stepping into the proccess that helping Martin was his only chance of ensuring Miles didn't become coach. Further, while the book doesn't provide any details, it does strongly suggest that there were additional conversations between Carr and Rich Rod. "Rodriqeuz kept all the trainers, equipment managers......and at Carr's urging operations members Scott Draper and Brad Labide". It would be quite interesting to know what else Carr and Rich Rod discussed in that conversation, because of all the advice that Carr could have given RR, I doubt the only advice he came up with was to hire Draper and Labide.
While some may assume that the hiring of Draper and Labide a plan to undermine RR (which they certainly accomplished), it seems a farfetched plot to think this was intentional on his part. First, it would involve convincing the two to ruin their own reputations, second, it would assume that RR would actually violate practice requiremetns, third, it would assume that any investigation wouldn't look back any farther than one year. This all seems like a pretty lame plan to get someone fired to me.
Furthermore, the quote from Bacon about the hiring of Draper and Labide is one of the manky times in the book that I find his use of, "the facts" to be at least a little prejudicial. What reason is there to highlight that they were hired at Carr's urging, if not to suggest blame for their failures on Carr? Bacon takes a similar tack when discussing the team meeting about RR. When discussing the team meeting in which Carr said he would sign releases, he says, 'It was also interpretted by many players as a vote of no confidence to his successor before Rodriguez had conducted a single team meeting, a single workout, a single practice, yelled or sworn at a single player or coached a single game." Bacon conviently leaves out to counterpoints. Carr couldn't have signed releases after Rodriquez had held a practice or coached a game because he would no longer be the coach. If he was going to make the offer, it was the only chance he had to do it. Furthermore, to the extent that any players wanted to transfer for Spring of 2008, it also had to be done quickly.
When I look at the situation, Coach Carr is far down the list of people I'd blame for Rich Rod's failure.
Martin obviously handled the situation horribly.
Mary Sue Coleman was of little help (and was certainly in better position than Carr to be more helpful)
Obviously Michael Rosenburg
Bard Labadie and Scott Draper
Rich Rod himself.
Personally, while most of the blame that people on this blog are willing to assign to Rich Rod is about his defensive failings. I think his whole approach significantly contributed to the 2008 failures (and subsequent loss of confidence). While many people on this site say they got no new insights in this book, I personally was shocked at the number of times that Rich Rod seemed to suggest he couldn't win right away. I personally think that the mental aspect of most endevars is very important, and if you think you're gonna fail, yoiu probably are. It is even more important when you are a leader, because the people you are leading, sense your doubt and it breeds doubt in them too. I don't know if it was truly Rodrquez's feeling or just the way I felt the book conveyed it, but the number of times that the book discusses Bobby Bowden's philosophy, "you lose big, you lose close, you win close and then you win big", and other similar anecdotes, makes me think that Rich Rod fully expected to lose his first year. When you expect to lose, it's not shocking that you do. While that team was clearly not going to win any national championships, it's not clear to me that it had to be as bad as it was. There performances against both Utah and Wisconsin suggest to me more potential than we saw. Assuming that the cupboard was bare assumes that Rich Rod did a good job of using and developing the talent he had. I see very limited evidence that this was the case.
While I'm not suggesting that Carr is not without his faults, I think that people who consider him a traitor to the program are over the top and are not putting both Carr's role and Rich Rod's role in perspective. I think they are assuming Carr had much more of an ability to influence things than I think he really did. I also think that they assume that Rich Rod had less culpability than he did.
While most of you won't believe it from my posting history, I was actually an RR supporter until the Mississippi State fiasco. The main thing that has inspired me to post so much stuff that is negative about RR is the fact that so many of his supporters on here seem to feel the need to point the fingers at others for his failures at Michigan. While RR had more challenges to deal with than most, he brought more of it on himself than I think people acknowledge.
I think the buyout issue is a good example of this. There would not have been a buyout contreversy in the first place if RR hadn't signed such a ridiculous contract when he was at West Virginia. Who signs a buyout with an expectation that it will be lowered if it is actually used? I think it is one of the many examples of RR"s naivenss when it comes to the ways of the operation of mutil-million dollar businesses. While RR clearly got screwed at Michigan because of it, I think the experiences he had at West Virginia, show that politics in big-time athletic departments isn't unique to Michigan and an inability to handle them well is a real weakness in a coach.