Three And Out Takes: Carr, Rodriguez, Martin

Submitted by Brian on October 26th, 2011 at 2:14 PM

imageSo. It's out.

I'm impressed with the large numbers of people who seem to have already blazed their way through Three and Out. It took me a while. I stopped for a few days after "Honeymoon from Hell" because it was too depressing; every chapter featuring a game I knew they'd lose spectacularly required a little bit of willpower to start.

But I'm done and a large number of you are done. It is time to talk the turkey.

We've got this document. What does it say about major players in the saga? I was planning one part here but this got long, so today we'll cover Carr, Rodriguez, and Bill Martin, with various players with less prominent roles in the story covered in a post tomorrow.

Lloyd Carr


It says a few things about Lloyd Carr that are not nice, and implies more. Bacon's said he left a lot of things out that he could not get multiple sources on, which is both his responsibility as an actual journalist and horribly frustrating.

The main strikes:

  1. Informing his former players he would sign any transfer papers they wanted at his meeting with them after their bowl game, a marked contrast from the Bo-Bump transition.
  2. Telling Mallett he "needed to leave".
  3. Having zero control over his former players, or—worse—tacitly endorsing their behavior by not jumping down their throats.
  4. Offering something short of the fiery defense Bo would have launched once the program started taking fire.

That's aside from the state of the roster when Rodriguez took over, which wasn't specifically directed at the new man.

Those seem like major strikes. Screw it: those are major strikes, particularly #3. I find it inconceivable that Eric Mayes would made it thirty seconds into the embarrassing "we own this program" speech before Bo burst from his chest like a Xenomorph. Carr does nothing. Multiple former players trash Rodriguez in public. Carr does nothing. The 2009 golf outing that even guys like Chris Balas* come back from disgusted at, naming specific names of players (Marlin Jackson, Dhani Jones) who embarrassed themselves with their behavior. Is Carr even at it? It's worse if he is.

So, like, whatever. Carr doesn't owe anyone anything except the 400k a year he was pulling down as associate AD. But he's no program patriarch. He's just a guy who used to coach here. His loyalty is to an incredibly specific version of Michigan only. The difference between the Bo guys and the Carr guys is obvious. Bo guys organize a weird counterproductive rally for RR; Carr guys go on MNF and state they're from "Lloyd Carr's Michigan" or storm the AD's office to demand RR's firing after every loss**. There are exceptions, obviously. The trend is clear.

I have no sympathy for arguments the guy is being painted unfairly when he was offered the opportunity to tell his side a dozen times. If history is written by the losers here it's because the winners don't care what the public thinks. They can't be surprised when the public thinks they're not Bo.

Carr did a lot of things for the program but his legacy is significantly tarnished by the pit it found itself in immediately after his departure. It was his lack of a coaching tree, lack of serious coordinators, and lack of tolerance for Les Miles that caused Michigan to hire Rodriguez in the first place. It was his lack of a roster—seven scholarship OL!—and lack of support that provided Rodriguez with two strikes before he even coached a game. We can argue about how much is Carr's fault and how much is Rodriguez's, but figuring out the latter is pointless since RR is gone and everyone hates him. The former is "far too much."

*[By this I mean guys who work for publications for whom access is lifeblood. They're naturally more circumspect. The reaction on premium sites to this golf outing was unprecedented, with people moved to call actual former players out by name after years of dark mutterings.]

**[Not in the book; something I got from a good source.]

Rich Rodriguez

123110_SPT_Gator Bowl_MRM


If you left a goat in the locker room after a Michigan loss and then locked Rodriguez in it for five minutes, you would return to find the walls smeared with blood and feta. There would be no trace of the goat.

Rich Rodriguez was obviously not a stoic guy. His sideline tantrums proved that. The extent of his leg-gashing, table-throwing, goat-cheese-making post-loss hissies is probably the thing that Rodriguez is pissed about. They don't make him look like a stable dude. Neither does his descent into J. Edgar Hoover-esque paranoia, no matter how intent the university was on making that paranoia seems reasonable.

By the time I got through it, my reaction to Rodriguez's portrayal was different than that of the media reviewing the book. It doesn't paint Rodriguez as a guy I would want in charge of my football program. I can deal with one goat-annihilating postgame tantrum a year. Rodriguez seemed to have one after every loss.

So why do most neutral accounts play up the Rodriguez sympathy angle? They do not take the truth that the local media is dominated by agenda-laden twits to be self-evident. When Mike Rosenberg—who comes off as a real winner—bombed Rodriguez with a bunch of half-truths and misrepresentations I bombed back, stating that it was obvious the buyout kerfuffle was university-directed. Surprise: it was university-directed as they tried to get out of their 2.5 million dollar hook. Similarly, Free Press Jihad is re-exposed as a bunch of half-truths at best run by a couple of guys who "had countable hours in there at some point" but had it edited out, no doubt because that's not at all important in a discussion about whether Michigan was more than doubling their allotted time on Sundays.

If you go into the book knowing Rosenberg and Snyder published an embarrassing hack-job and that a large part of the media firestorm surrounding Rodriguez was a combination of University incompetence and the tiny lizard brains of certain folk in the local media*, the main takeaway from the book in re: RR is the sheer height of the plumes his emotional volcano shoots up. I mean, Bacon spends pages and pages on Rodriguez playing up the traditions of Michigan to his players. That's an obvious reaction to the Michigan Man business. I assumed Rodriguez was not an idiot when it came to firing up his troops, I guess, and that stuff shot by me. Beating a bleating ungulate against the wall of the Notre Dame locker room until it bursts into a kaleidoscope of viscera… that stays with you.

I feel bad for the guy. I'm glad he's gone.

*[The rest a combo of Rodriguez never winning any games and his remarkable ability to stick his leg into the press conference bear trap.]

Bill Martin

University of Michigan Athletic Director Bill Martin watches over Thursday afternoon, August 20th's football practice at the Michigan practice facility outside of Schembechler Hall. 
Lon Horwedel | Ann

Good Lord, man. I find it hard to believe that a guy who dragged Michigan kicking and screaming into massive financial success and smoothly hired John Beilein (admittedly after making a questionable hire in Tommy Amaker) was really as incompetent as… uh… I believed he was after the sailboat incident. That's Yogi Berra right there but it's also true.

Here's the the story of the post-Carr coaching search from the perspective of this site:

  1. Kirk Ferentz is reached out to and either is or is not offered; if offered he may have been given an offer that was a paycut. Ferentz fades but it seems like there was truth to the rumors.
  2. Flailing. Miles heavily discussed. ESPN reports Michigan contacts him after Ferentz falls through. They agree to wait until the SEC championship game is over. LSU boards buzz that Les has told his team he's out. I would be "surprised if it was not" Miles.
  3. Infamous ESPN report.
  4. Sailboat. "Have a great day." Sailboat.
  5. Conclusion reached in the aftermath is that M "essentially passed on Miles."
  6. Tedford and Schiano now start getting thrown around along with odder names like Grobe and Pinkel. Also some guy named Hoke. So much Hoke.
  7. Kirk Ferentz momentarily back. Then gone.
  8. Schiano talked to, offered, accepts, changes mind, offered again, says no.
  9. Sean Payton!
  10. Miles again! Seriously!
  11. Miles out again.
  12. Jim Grobe. Jim Grobe does not get an exclamation point.
  13. KC Keeler! Lane Kiffin! Seriously!
  14. Rodriguez out of nowhere.
  15. Sigh… Peanut Butter Jelly Time.

It seemed like a clown show, and behind the scenes… clown show. Martin wants Dungy, has no idea if Dungy—who is a broadcaster and can be contacted by anyone at any time for any reason—will take the job. Wants Ferentz, has no idea that the president of the university will stab him if he hires Ferentz. Wants Miles, has no idea that Lloyd Carr will stab him if he hires Miles. Somehow misses on Schiano, then has Rodriguez fall into his lap and grabs him before anyone can think about it, which sets up the whole buyout fiasco the media will spin for six months. The sailboat incident is even worse since Bacon asserts one of the main problems was Martin had a new cell phone and didn't know how to use it.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh /dies

Martin himself drops out of the story shortly thereafter, which is another indictment of the guy because what enters is a vast institutional incompetence that starts the Rodriguez media cockroach katamari rolling. Everything from the buyout to the Dorsey situation is mishandled not only by Rodriguez (sometimes not even by Rodriguez, as with the buyout) but by the people who should be telling him what is and is not possible. When Rodriguez went to bat for Dorsey with a guy in admissions the guy in admissions should have looked at the guy's transcript before saying yes, and then when he did look at the transcript he should have said no.

Instead we actually sign the guy—opening us up to the most cynical and loathsome of all the lizard-brain media attacks—only to find out he is nowhere near eligible. And don't get me started on the CARA forms, which was a special brand of idiocy all on its own. Martin did a lot of big picture stuff very well, but he was totally unprepared to fix a department that had started downhill long before he arrived.

For all the crap I give Brandon about his failure on big picture stuff, he cleaned out the deadwood with alacrity.

TOMORROW: Players, reporters, me/us(!?).


Go Blue Eyes

October 26th, 2011 at 2:28 PM ^

I have gone through about 1/4 of the book so far and it is still amazing that Bill Martin has a concourse at Michigan Stadium named after him. 

"...Martin had a new cell phone and didn't know how to use it," pretty much sums up a man who is completely out of touch. 

This is the only book I have ever read the prologue on and it reads like an upcoming preview of a disaster movie.  You know the Titanic is going to sink but you still have to watch it. 


October 26th, 2011 at 2:32 PM ^

I read the book yesterday during work after lunch. I finished reading it this morning. WOW. As Brian said briefly here and more specifically a couple weeks ago, no one that is in this book will be happy. I will say though, Denard is the effing man.


October 26th, 2011 at 2:34 PM ^

Not having read the book, but wasn't it widely understood at the time that Carr HATED Mallett by the end of that season and wanted him to transfer even when he was the only healthy scholarship QB on the roster?  I feel like I remember reading that on this very site.  And I definitely remember hearing from friends who lived in West Quad that year that he was by all accounts a tremendous asshole.

So three damning stirkes instead of four, in my mind.

lexus larry

October 26th, 2011 at 2:46 PM ^

"...transfer even when he was the only QB on the roster? "


In all seriousness, this is the most devastating part of the whole LC exit fiasco...not only did he offer to sign for anyone who wanted to leave, but sent a clear and potent message to the entire team that it was OK to quit on the incoming coach (whether by transferring, or by inaction, etc).

AND, then there were those who would have everyone believe that RR chased off Mallett.  The two-time quitting Mallett.  The Jeff George of his generation!


October 26th, 2011 at 3:28 PM ^

I've heard from someone in the know that most of what you said is BS.  RR supposedly had Lloyd come in during Spring practice '08 and talk to the team (mostly the upperclassmen) and convince them to give the staff a try because they owed it to the University of Michigan.  It took them a while to get used to Barwis and they didn't like it at first.  Also, I know Bacon didn't have access until August of '08.  Lloyd may have done alot of other things behind the scenes that are mentioned or not mentioned in the book, but I don't think he was as malicious as what is portrayed in the book with the transferring issue.


October 26th, 2011 at 5:05 PM ^

Lloyd doesn't owe it to anyone to tell his side of the story.  He's a very introspective, calculating, and private man who never cared whether what the media said was true or not.  For all the people who assumed his silence during the RR years was because he didn't support RR, he hasn't exactly been on a barnstorming tour to support his longtime ex-assistant Hoke.  Lloyd is who he is, he's a guy who prefers to stay above the fray - I always admired that about him. 


October 26th, 2011 at 6:21 PM ^

If that is the case then he has no business being an associate AD.  I would have preferred him to just retire to South Carolina or something but staying Ann Arbor means he needed to be at least somewhat public.  It would not have taken much to lend a little confidence during this transition.  I'm not saying we wouldn't be in the same spot we are now but his silence, public or private, did not help.

Do we have to assume all the people Bacon talked to are lying just because Carr is remaining silent?


October 26th, 2011 at 2:52 PM ^

Purely a hunch but my guess is the most damning strikes are the things that Bacon had to withhold to stay professional but are probably still true.

The fact that Bacon said in that radio podcast that Brandon is very close to Carr "personally and professionally" makes me throw up a little bit in my mouth. Carr's friends continuing to wield power is extremely uncomfortable.



October 26th, 2011 at 3:06 PM ^

If Carr actually had power, all this crap with the uniforms and music and what not that us fuddy duddies have been complaining about wouldn't happen.  The thing I liked best about old Lloyd (as opposed to young Lloyd who was genuinely awesome but left us with Chris Perry or so) was his stance on the rampant monetization of college football.  And how when they added the 12th game for pure profit reasons he started supporting a playoff.


October 26th, 2011 at 3:29 PM ^

Young Lloyd and old Lloyd.  That did seem to happen overnight.  It seemed like he went from the smartest guy in the room who also had charm and wit to a guy that would call your dog ugly if you asked him for an autograph.  The "that's a stupid question" response during 2003 Ohio State is a perfect example.  That was just an unnecessary alienating response.  The 1997 Lloyd does not answer the question like that.  Hell, the Lloyd smiling ear to ear at the end of the 2003 Minnesota game doesn't even answer the question like that.

Something along with the line changed with him.  I remember thinking that the only person who wasn't enjoying 2006 was Lloyd Carr.


October 26th, 2011 at 3:36 PM ^

To me, the change came in 2001. Henson split and a not-ready-for-primetime Navarre became the starter, open to big criticism to both the kid and Carr's recruiting practices at the position. That season ended with a "new sherrif in town" statement game when we lost to OSU in Tressel's first season.

After all that went down, Carr seemed significantly more paranoid, ornery and generally unpleasant. It's beyond unfortunate that he remained in that posture for the whole second half of his career as head coach because he really was a highly likeable guy before that.


October 26th, 2011 at 3:44 PM ^

I tend to put it slightly later, at least after the Perry/Braylon doghouse extractions.  I think old Lloyd never lets those guys off the bench (see Pierre Woods for example), much less convinces Perry not to transfer.  I think "that's a stupid question" might be exactly when it became apparent, even though I *loved* that (as I said, old Lloyd's unwillingness to deal with bullshit is my favorite quality of his, other than his Mott's fundraising and ability to instill that in others).

STW P. Brabbs

October 27th, 2011 at 7:56 AM ^

Thank you.  Absolutely regardless of political opinions, I cannot fathom how people think Ann Coulter is attractive.  The only way it can be explained is that they have poor vision, and the see the basic shape of a thin, tan, blond person, so they assume she's hot.   Please believe me -  I am not an internet tough guy that acts like women who are actually pretty attractive but have some flaws are uggos ... and I can honestly say that if I woke up in the morning next to Ann Coulter I would a) get the fuck out of there as fast as possible and b) make sure I never experienced the same combination of drinking and poor lighting that led to that fiasco ever again.


True Blue Grit

October 26th, 2011 at 2:37 PM ^

he's going to need an entire firm of PR specialists to put any kind of luster back on his tarnished reputation after this book.  Maybe Bacon couldn't disclose everything, but people can certainly read between the lines. 


October 26th, 2011 at 2:40 PM ^

Same for me...Martin and his incredible part in this soap opera is the most frustrating.  At the executive level new leadership is handled very different from this, at least in the professions I am assocaited with.  I find incredible, usually there is a "transition time" when the old passes to the new, I realize that major college football is a little different but Lloyd WAS ON THE PAYROLL!  What were his duties if not to smooth the transition, educate and counsel the new guy and act as the Bo surrogate in bringing along the Bo/Carr faction of players and boosters?  And where was Martin...sailing?  WTF?

If an executive in my business acted this, jsut wow, where was MSC?  She should have kicked Martin and Carrs ass when all this started breaking...

Failure all around, failure to lead, failure to support, failure to communicate....failure on the field should have been expected.


October 26th, 2011 at 2:48 PM ^

I don't know..It's in my experience?  Just trying to point out the obvious...not real professional of Martin/Carr. 

Perhaps this is the way it goes...fired guy/retired guy goes out of his way to NOT help in any way the new guy?  Even when retired guy is pulling in $400+k from the same employer?  Just wierd..

lexus larry

October 26th, 2011 at 8:24 PM ^

An allegory I've been bouncing around to match the LC situation would be General Motors during their recent bankruptcy, and Rattner telling Rick Wagner he had to go. To do it the LC way, Wags would not only go to his executive staff and tell them to get ready for a new guy who may not keep them (typical for new managers coming in from the outside...which LC knew, as he'd negotiated that each of his coaches got an extra years salary after the 2007 season), but Wags would also go to each and every assembly plant globally, and tell those workers they could, and probably should, leave, too. (Not an ideal allegory, but I hope the point is made.) That the new managers would come in and do things differently, and why stay and see how things work out, why not bolt, and bolt soon. I'll hold the door open for you.
(Trying to link in the general premise of the movie "Gung Ho." Failing.)
The Michigan Athletic Department shouldn't be seen as being on a different (Sybil-like multiple personality) plane, a different org. It should be expected to behave like the best run organizations, everyone pulling in the same direction for the best results for everyone involved.
Tragic that in 2007 until recently, this was not the case.


October 28th, 2011 at 9:01 AM ^

GM's outgoing CEO probably did not recruit his assembly line workers as children, sit in their home, promise their parents that he would take care of them, or build a personal relationship by working with them daily. Carr did.

I know what you mean, but still, this stuff is key.

I was initially shocked to hear that he offered to release anyone that wanted out. It seemed like a bad move for the program from a guy who professes to love it. But the more I think about it, from what I know about Carr, he's just the type of guy that would do such a thing out of some personal code of honor.

And, I get the feeling that Carr felt betrayed by the University. Maybe he was forced out? Gently nudged? Maybe Coleman and Martin suggested it before he was ready? Maybe he was pissed that they wouldn't let him pick a successor or that they totally wanted to break from the program? It's all speculation, but Lloyd just seems to have been a bit pissed.


October 26th, 2011 at 3:41 PM ^

That's been said and maybe she does on a strictly personal level, but that statement does not jibe at all with her actions in the search (poo-poo'ing Ferentz and chewing out Martin for blowing it with Miles).

These stories are in the book and seem to confirm rumors that were out there at the time that she gave BM a kick in the butt and made sure he wasn't just kowtowing to Carr's obvious agenda in the search.


October 26th, 2011 at 4:47 PM ^

I might be misinterpreting you, but what part of my statement does not jibe with her actions in the search? All I said is that she would not piss Lloyd off. She and Martin did not get along. I agree that she was mad at Martin for not getting Miles. I didn't get the impression that Martin was caving to Lloyd at all. And yes. I have read the book.


October 26th, 2011 at 2:41 PM ^

My favorite defense of Carr's inaction/silence is that "Lloyd doesn't like talking to the media." As if they have special knowledge of a blood oath Carr made that he would never once make a public statement again, no matter the circumstances, after retiring. Something that is a falsehood to begin with (he must have broke his sacred oath this past winter when he came out and said he didn't like how small our team had been in recent years).

And a question to those many people who hid behind that defense for years: Do you really think someone that adverse to dealing with the media and making public statements should have any association at all with major college athletics?

El Jeffe

October 26th, 2011 at 2:57 PM ^

I always HHHHAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYTTTTEDDDDDD this defense, too. As if not liking something about your job is justification not to do it. If that were true, my job would consist of

  • Masturbation
  • Chocolate
  • More chocolate (Oh who am I kidding? More masturbation)

Yeah. Did you know that Bump Elliott is being feted this Saturday? Now that's how you treat a successor. The best you can say about Lloyd is that he did the least he could possibly do. The worst you can say is a whole lot worse than that.


October 28th, 2011 at 9:06 AM ^

Are you denying that Lloyd hated dealing with the media?

You'd be wrong. We have 12 years of evidence to back that up.

He hated the media. Period. Full stop.

That is not anything at all akin to a "blood oath Carr made to never once make a public statement again, no matter the circumstances, after retiring." Relax on the hyperbole.

As for if he should have ever gotten involved in major collegiate athletics, I don't know. He did OK. Won a lot of games. Won a National Championship. Is so beloved by his guys that they are officially a faction.

Ed Shuttlesworth

October 26th, 2011 at 2:41 PM ^

Brian is too kind.

What the fuck is wrong with Lloyd Carr?  I mean, honestly -- the guy's practically a traitor.  Blackballing Miles -- who should be Michgan's head football coach -- encouraging players to transfer (huh, what??!?!?!), and doing nothing to stop the public pilloring of RR.  All while on the University's payroll. 

Carr acted unconscionably.  He should slink away and reflect on his failures for at least a couple decades.



October 26th, 2011 at 2:41 PM ^

I agree on Carr - "He is just a guy who coached here" 

Feel bad for Rich Rodriguez, but some things were his fault. He was stubborn, forced his system from day one. Knew nothing about defense and was clueless about the Big Ten and how things are different. (I'm generalizing)

Bill Martin was Bill Martin. Look at his hair, what do you expect. Dude was clueless when it came to some things. Other than the coaching thing and choking some kid at the stadium (LOL) he did an alright job. Amaker, I give him a pass because of the situation he was walking into.

The person who I would like to hear about is Mary Sue Coleman. Was she ever like, "Okay, these idiots can't do this, I'm gonna run this shit now." She looks very professional and nice, but I can totally see her being one hell of a crazy bitch when she gets pissed.