You Were Killed By A Bear And I Am Sad

Submitted by Brian on August 25th, 2008 at 3:03 AM

In less than a week, Michigan will run under the banner a team directed by Rich Rodriguez and the Bo Schembechler era will finally, permanently belong to the past.

It’s a change that most Michigan fans feel was too long coming after the tribulations in recent years: losses to Ohio State, Rose Bowls that end the wrong way, national embarrassment and the infamous picture that will stand as one half of the Carr era denouement:

disaster-image

It lived in the past and now it is of the past and it can stay there, to be memorialized in song and commemorative DVD. Amen.

But this is the other half of the Carr era denouement.

carr-aloft

This picture makes me happy.

Over the past three years on this blog I’ve chronicled my endless frustration with Michigan football; I’ve also chronicled just how important it is to me. Carr is at least partially responsible for both these things. It has been a deeply schizophrenic existence, and the Citrus Bowl was everything about that existence wrapped into one three-hour summary.

You can check the UFR after most games for an explanation of the first. The second has something to do with Carr’s tireless scorn for those who deserved it, primarily the money-changers cramming into the temple of the game, his obvious devotion to his players, his desire to read things more stimulating than a playbook.

This latter item about reading is weird and useless—who cares if the football coach knows who Keats is?—but it’s also indisputably true. Former Daily sportswriter J Brady McCullough indirectly touches on it in his excellent article on the changeover:

“I’m studying up on it,” Rodriguez says. “Reading books. I got 500 books sent to me. I got four or five of the same book, ‘Bo’s Lasting Lessons,’ and it gave me some perspective on things.”

Rodriguez has realized Michigan is unique. Fans and former players who want their football coach to spend his time reading?

Yes. When I was editing Hail to the Victors 2008, space requirements forced me to cut down Craig Ross’s article about his experience at a Scot Loeffler quarterbacks meeting, and when I had to cut a small but telling paragraph about Lloyd Carr it lingered with me. This is it:

After a few minutes Carr appeared. He was relaxed and fresh, even though it was mid-evening and he had worked for the entire day. We chatted for a few moments about a book, The Long Walk, the story of a WWII prisoner of war who escaped from a Gulag and then trekked across Siberia, through the Gobi desert and then through the Himalayas to India.

I didn’t want to cut it but it was either that or something directly relevant to Ross’s odyssey so out it went. I wanted people to see it, to get the little glimpse into how odd Lloyd Carr—football coach, friend of Russell Crowe, strident Democrat—is. He reads books! About things! This is important.

There is something to the sometimes annoying “Michigan Man” thing. There is a mindset, an attitude, some characteristics that are shared by enough people that they characterize a program and a fanbase. (The annoying part is when people pretend all these things are positive.) Carr was of this and in more than a decade came to define some of it. Kipling and Into Thin Air and The Long Walk were part of the fabric of the program.

Few outside of Michigan fandom understood this or anything about Carr. How could they? Opposing fans took the opportunity provided by Carr’s cantankerousness at press conferences and one inopportune photo after a loss against Oregon to label him classless. Neutrals just thought he was a crab, because they experienced him as a crab. A month after the Bo memorial service at which Carr spoke, I found myself in a conversation with Orson Swindle of EDSBS fame. At some point I forwarded the video (part one; part two) of Carr’s speech to him. The response: “It's enthralling, actually. Lloyd is downright eloquent.”

The surprise was evident.

titanic

It was November when they memorialized Bo but it was nice enough out, I thought, and I thought the thing to wear was a suit so I did but I left the coat at home and this was fine for a while. But when the sun started setting the warmth leached out of the air and people kept talking and it was cold. And I wrapped my arms around myself as Bo’s son talked and kept talking and God bless him, I know he just lost his father but it’s cold and I’ve been here for hours. And he kept going.

So I’m cold and in a suit and my mind is wandering back to what Carr said to wrap up his speech. I recorded it with my MP3 player but old obscure-brand MP3 players being what they are and having no external mic the recording was nigh useless and when I discovered this later I was a little shattered but still posted the nigh useless thing on the blog.

Carr said this: “Bo will be remembered as the Michigan Man.”

No, not quite, I don’t think. Not “the.”

I’m happy that the empire of the fallen has finished its long slide into the sea. I’m happy it’s been replaced with something young and vivacious and very likely successful. But on Saturday something that lived for forty years sees the last shovelful of dirt on its grave, and I wish it hadn’t come to this.

crable-carr

CarrBo

carr-osu

carr-nc 

bo-memorial

People wish for a lot of things, though, and entropy always tells them to go to hell.

Comments

Alaska Hokie

August 25th, 2008 at 4:49 AM ^

On Virginia Tech message boards, there's a lot of complaining about the moribund state of the offense, the rebuilding after the Vick Jr. debacle, and other such topics. But there's no doubt about Frank Beamer. He'll be there -- he'll always be there, or so it seems. Thanks for reminding us that even permanent figures like Beamer and Schembechler ultimately have to pass on, even if we don't want them to.

ts

August 25th, 2008 at 5:39 AM ^

There's another long interview with RR on espn.com. Mostly the same questions and answers. Says the Big Ten is "dang good". Is it possible to be too media friendly? He truly is the anti-Carr. Not that all the spelling mistakes in the playbook will matter if the plays actually work.

Ellipses Man

August 25th, 2008 at 8:17 AM ^

The Florida game, for me, made me wonder,"Why could we not have done this offensively?" Injuries aside of course. I think Carr understood one thing very well. And that is it is easier to change your beliefs than change your behavior.

Although it is articles like this that make me wonder why major detroit area newspapers are not lining up to have you write for them.

Yostal

August 25th, 2008 at 3:36 PM ^

In reading the piece yesterday, I was struck by the same quote, about Coach Carr's love of reading and the way that, on the surface, it does not carry over to Coach Rod.  I was struck by the idea that it was not a bad thing, just a different thing, but something that is gone.

I was going to write about it, but once more, Brian not only beat me to the punch, but did it far more eloquently than I ever could.

So thank you Brian for this...new day dawns on Saturday.

Bando Calrissian

August 25th, 2008 at 8:42 AM ^

I don't think all of the "FIRE LLOYD!" crowd will realize how much they miss him until about 8PM on Saturday.  Rich Rodriguez may be a great football coach, a system guy, media friendly, somewhat engaging, but where he falls short is the strong sense of tradition and loyalty Lloyd Carr had for Michigan.  Yes, the "Michigan Man" thing can get tedious, but at the end of the day, wasn't Rich Rodriguez a "West Virginia Man," and didn't that change on a dime?  Loyalty to your team and to your school is important, and most of all, being a well-rounded person who doesn't fall back on the "aw, shucks!" country bumpkin defense is where Coach Carr shined, and where RichRod falls far short.   I worry that RichRod will be a short-lived flash in the pan, with his shortcomings that have been so far lost in a sea of "OMG Barwis!" and open practices becoming well apparent when the next can't-miss job opens up and he makes us look like fools.

The Claw

August 25th, 2008 at 9:03 AM ^

I've always been tired of all the talk about hiring a "Michigan Man" No Rod
wasn't, but he is now. I've been in love with Wolverine ball my whole
life. I can honestly say that I have never cared who the coach is or
was, I just wanted wins. Isn't that what we all want? Michgan was
about 10 years behind in innovation in today's football game. So they
went out and grabbed someone we know is what today's game needs. Who
cares if he wasn't a "Michigan Man" He has something we need. A
creative mind! If we wanted a "Michigan Man" we would have kept Carr
around and be shitty for a few more years.

I personally
welcome the change and hope the team gels quickly so they win 10
games. I thiink they can easily do so. It's about stepping up and playing
to their potential. And lt us not forget, the ultimate "Michigan Man,"
Bo, came from OSpew. Nobody mentions Bo as not being a "Michigan Man"
when he got here. Look what it did for him. If Rod wins a couple
NC's, he'll be right where Bo was. Someone who came in as an outsider and
ended up being the face of the University.

baleedat

August 25th, 2008 at 9:12 AM ^

“What kind of stupid question is that?”

I can't remember the circumstances exactly, but I think he had Navarre take a knee with 30 seconds or so remaining in the half, and the sideline reporter just asked him why. I remember rolling on the floor laughing hysterically for about 20 minutes. Does anyone remember this? What was the deal?

Chrisgocomment

August 25th, 2008 at 9:22 AM ^

It was halftime...can't remember what game.  The game was on ABC and the sideline report asked Lloyd why he didn't try to score, since there was time on the clock (which is something that annoyed many).  Lloyd just said "Why would you ask a dumb question like that?"  The reporter tried to save the interview, but couldn't and Lloyd just walked away.

ckersh74

August 25th, 2008 at 9:28 AM ^

It was the Michigan State game, although I forget exactly which year. We had 2 timeouts left, but about 70-80 yards to go with about 1:30-2 minutes left in the half.

I'm certain it was UM-MSU. I believe it was John L. Hillbilly's first UM-MSU game in East Lansing. IIRC, we won that in overtime, but I cannot be sure of that part.

WindyCityBlue

August 25th, 2008 at 10:03 AM ^

...it was the halftime of the 2003 Michigan-OSU game (100th game). We were up by 21 (I think) at one point, but OSU scored 14 unanswered. We had the ball with about 2 minutes left in the half and sat on it (typical LC). LC was asked at halftime why he did that, his answer, "what kind of question was that" and walked away...

Bando Calrissian

August 25th, 2008 at 9:36 AM ^

Yep, it was the '03 Ohio State game.  It was the right decision to run the clock out with a lead like that, Todd Harris asked a dumb question, and maybe it was a bit crotchety to say that, but it was a stupid question.

The funniest thing was when Harris had to interview him before halftime of the Rose Bowl, and there was an awkward "How you doin', Todd?  Happy New Year" from Coach Carr before the question was asked.  It was priceless.

Bando Calrissian

August 25th, 2008 at 10:13 AM ^

Michigan was up 21-7 going into the half on their own 30 yard line with 44 seconds to go.  What positives, pray tell, could have come out of that if you risk throwing a stupid pick and giving up a touchdown to only have a 7-point lead going into the half?  If I'm not mistaken, we were also going to get the ball to start off the second half, too.  I'd rather have that 14-point lead.

WindyCityBlue

August 25th, 2008 at 11:09 AM ^

...I could have been wrong.  I thought we were only down by 7 (21-14), and we were driving the ball at will in previous drives.  You were right though, we did get the ball first in the second half (and scored!)  Thinking that we would have thrown a pick 6 in the last parts of the first half is a bit too conservative IMO.

Ninja Football

August 25th, 2008 at 9:14 AM ^

You know Brian, every once in awhile you hit one out of the park.  Like "over the rooftop and into an adjacent parking lot" out of the park.  Nothing sums up the Lloyd era like the conflicting emotions so many feel for something so dear to us.  Anyone could do a UFR, not everyone can write like this.  Terrific.

 

Oh, and Bando- your lack of support has been noted.  Unfortunately for you, we are about to embark on an era of onfield success which previously only existed in peoples' minds.  You have 5 days to get on the train, or it leaves the station without you.  And this usher has a long memory. Try to get on later and you'll be booted in a heartbeat.

WindyCityBlue

August 25th, 2008 at 9:18 AM ^

Knowing how LC is stubborn to change and his cronyism with with coaches, would you want him back as a head coach this year and the next?

I bet most would say "no". 

Musket Rebellion

August 25th, 2008 at 9:31 AM ^

What you fail to realize is that we aren't defending the things that irritated the entire fan base about Lloyd Carr. We knew the time for change was upon us, and we are excited for the chance to breathe in a new wind of opportunity. We are defending the idea that the era directly proceeding the Rich Rodriguez era is still a significant era. You proceed down a road where only the future matters, and for the most part you are right. But to completely neglect the past is foolish. "Those who forget the past...," and all that. We aren't asking for a return to the past, we only ask that when looking upon it you remember the good with the bad.

Don

August 25th, 2008 at 9:33 AM ^

Lloyd is a good man with normal faults. One of his best attributes is a tremendously strong sense of personal loyalty to those close to him. That was also his most significant weakness as a coach, as he was undone time and again by the inadequacies of those he kept close to him on his staff. It's telling that after close to 30 years as a Michigan coach, 13 as HC, he hasn't spawned a single remotely successful head coach.

 

chitownblue (not verified)

August 25th, 2008 at 9:41 AM ^

Lloyd's game got stale, the game had passed him. There is no doubt about that WindyCity. But that doesn't mean that we can't look at him as he was: a good man, and a coach that brought Michigan to it highest peak of success in the modern era.

When you say you "won't miss" him "not going to the Championship game", I wonder - since the days of Fielding Yost, what Michigan coach has more appearances than Carr?

Blue Durham

August 25th, 2008 at 5:25 PM ^

since the days of Fielding Yost, what Michigan coach has more appearances than Carr?

Championship game being somewhat relative before BCS, but here goes: 

Harry Kipke (1932, 1933)

Honorable mention:  Fitz Crisler (1947); Bennie Osterbaan (1948)

[Blue Durham =  wiseass]

Chitown, I agree with your's and Don's sentiment.  Llyod Carr did a lot of really good things for the University of Michigan, and no on represented the University better.  That counts a hell of a lot to me.  Also, when Bo retired, the prevailing sentiment was that, even with Bo, Michigan couldn't quite get that national championship, so without him, little hope.

I for one, am damn proud that Lloyd Carr was Michigan's head coach for 13 years.  But I am also glad that RR is the present coach and anticipate great things ahead.  There is room to appreciate both.

mjv

August 25th, 2008 at 10:05 AM ^

Chitown,  I don't believe that it was the game that passed Lloyd by, it was his excessive loyalty that caused his teams to fail to reach their potential.  Don hit it on the head.  He kept coaches around that were not able to perform. 

Lloyd let Debord switch to a zone blocking scheme.  That is a major departure from the past. I'm not going to argue with the pros and cons of a zone blocking scheme, but rather that lloyd had a willingness to turn over major portions of his team to his OC and DC, and he was let down repeatedly.  He kept a S&C coach around who was clearly 15 years behind the curve. 

Lloyd was a CEO-style coach.  He was not hands on and leaned on his coaches for most of the execution.  Lloyd just failed to bring in the best available talent to replace those that were clearly deficient (Moeller, Debord, Gittleson, in particular).  Frankly, there were two aspects of Martin possibly hiring Les Miles that had me very excited, one were his ties to the program, and two (but much more significant) was his willingness to go and hire the best available coaches.  (Please don't read into this that I am anti-RR, I think that he is a great hire, I personally never thought that he was on the market.)

dex

August 25th, 2008 at 10:23 AM ^

Lie-bot, what is the most pathetic thing?

Phillipe, the most pathetic thing in the world is a man who sits on the sidelines and mercilessly criticizes another man who dedicated his life to serving his university and entertaining him, and enjoyed great success while doing so. One man had the stones and talent to do what he loved, another only has the fortitude to sit at a computer and find fault.

If you are incapable of understanding that Lloyd Carr did many great things for the University and the football program, that he took it to greater heights than revered Bo, that he kept it clean, that he steadied a program that could have gone under in the Mo scandal, then I pity you. You will never be satisfied.

It is time for the Revolution, but the Revolution would never have a chance if it wasn't for Lloyd leaving a strong foundation for it to build upon.

WindyCityBlue

August 25th, 2008 at 11:29 AM ^

As a 2 time degree holder from the University and a donator to University, I think I have every right to comment on his performance.  Despite our play last season, I went to every game (home and away).  I am dedicated, but I also demand excellence.  We have not been excellent in awhile (save 06') and we have every resource in the world to be excellent.  I would never comment on what he does off the field, but on the field he is fair game.

As for leaving a foundation?!  Much of LC prize recruits are gone, some have transfered, only one coach remains, a brand new weight room with a completely new conditioning system, and a completely overhauled O and D schemes.  LCs foundation is gone! Much of what he left behind was changed immediately and for good reason, which says something about what he left behind.  

WindyCityBlue

August 25th, 2008 at 1:39 PM ^

But "donator" is a correctly spelt word and works just fine in my sentence - it's called colliquial English, look it up.  I find it hilarious that someone's best comeback is to belittle my grammar on a message board, where we are all clearly not bards, and when their own grammar is less than perfect (you are forgetting a comma after "troll")...

ShockFX

August 25th, 2008 at 1:58 PM ^

Unecessary ellipses btw.  Technically, you are not a "two time degree holder" you hold two degrees.  And unless those degrees are in coaching college football and the psychology of 17-22 freak of nature athletes, you're no more qualified to comment on Lloyd's performance than you are to deliver my pizza.

WindyCityBlue

August 25th, 2008 at 11:49 PM ^

I certainly hope I am not a continous donor of any of my organs (unless it is a kidney).  In this case, I would be a one time donator when I die.  Most of this board would be the same...

And, depending on the acid, several hydrogen atoms can be used in redox reactions, therefore, can be a donor a couple times (not just once)...

Ok, I am dork... 

SFBayAreaBlue

August 26th, 2008 at 7:58 AM ^

we're all dorks here. up until the moment you actually make the donation, you're a donor for that continuum of time.  And polyprotic acids have significantly lower progressive dissociation steps. Even so, they are still discrete actions.  If you said acids are proton donors, you're implicitly referring to the continuous ability to dissociate protons.  /nerdtalk

WindyCityBlue

August 25th, 2008 at 1:42 PM ^

I did not mean it to sound that way.  I don't think that I am any better than anyone. I just want to emphasize that think I have some right to comment on LCs performance without guff, even if it is on a message board.  We all have that right and many of us clearly use that right, including Brian...

Tacopants

August 25th, 2008 at 12:11 PM ^

Dude, this isn't the NFL.  Because elligibility expires and all, of course the great majority of Lloyd's prize recruits are gone.  Almost all of the contributors on this year's team will of course still be Lloyd's, and most of the current freshman class were verbals before Lloyd retired.

BGraham, Grady, Schilling, Warren were all 5 star Lloyd recruits.  Campbell committed when Lloyd was still the HC.  Moosman, Taylor, WJohnson, Trent, Matthews, CB, Matthews, Minor, and more who were 4 stars and going to be big contributors this year.

I do agree about some positional coaches and Gittelson, but there were also excellent coaches that were let go as well.  Overhauling the O and D schemes will happen when you bring in an outside coach, see: ND with weis, Georgia Tech this year, Florida under Meyer.