Bo vs. Mo vs. Lloyd etc.

Submitted by J.W. Wells Co. on September 12th, 2013 at 2:18 PM

I’ve been wondering lately about Michigan’s modern coaches (i.e., from Bo on), and how their winning percentages stack up when we consider the quality of the opponents they’ve played.  Just off the top of my head, it seems to me that:

  • Lloyd Carr was a much better coach against ranked opponents than we give him credit for, but lost more games than he should have to unranked teams.
  • Brady Hoke thusfar has done well in winning the games he should win (i.e., vs. unranked opponents), or at least has done better than Lloyd Carr did.
  • Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr went through an absolute gauntlet of a schedule in the 1990s.

But I wanted to see if those notions are actually supported by the stats.  So I started looking at Michigan’s coaching from 1969 to 2012 against ranked teams.  I should start out by explaining that “ranked” here means the AP Top 20, as the AP did not rank teams 21-25 until 1989.  I’ve therefore disregarded all 21-25 rankings of opponents.

Here are our heroes’ (and anti-hero's) overall M records:

  Overall Record
Bo 194-48-5 (.796)
Mo 44-13-3 (.758)
Lloyd 122-40 (.753)
RR 15-22 (.405)
Brady* 19-7 (.731)

*All Hoke stats are through 2012 only, as we don't have final AP rankings for 2013 yet.

Here’s how U-M’s coaches have stacked up against teams ranked at game time: 

  vs. AP 1-10 vs. AP 11-20 vs. Unranked
Bo 16-19-1 (.458) 21-12 (.636) 159-16-4 (.899)
Mo 7-5-1 (.577) 5-1-1 (.786) 32-7-1 (.813)
Lloyd 19-9 (.679) 19-11 (.633) 84-20 (.808)
RR 1-5 (.167) 1-4 (.200) 13-13 (.500)
Brady 0-2 (.000) 1-2 (.333) 18-3 (.857)

Some obvious points jump out:

  • RichRod and Hoke, and even Moeller to some extent, have small sample sizes. Keep this in the back of your mind for all that follows. 
  • Lloyd had a VERY impressive record against the AP Top 10. In fact, he started out on a huge roll. From 1995-2002, Lloyd was 11-1 against the Top 10 at game time.
  • Lloyd lost a substantial number of games against unranked teams. Brady’s done pretty well against the unranked. Bo really killed the teams he should have killed.

I know, I know, pre-season bias in rankings, especially early.  But let’s not completely discount game-time rankings.  Though some of them, particularly early in the season, are just plain wrong, some might actually be good indications of a team’s quality as of the time you played.  For example: some of Glen Mason’s Minnesota teams were pretty good as of Michigan week, but then plummeted through the rest of their seasons, perhaps from psychological issues, after losing their red-letter games for the Jug.  Were those teams better when Michigan played them in week 5 or 6 than those teams’ final unranked status would indicate?  Very probably.

But of course, rankings at game time, particularly early in the season, don’t tell the full story about the quality of the team you’ve played.  The season’s final rankings are probably most illustrative (except for Minnesota-like situations as described above):

  vs. AP Final 1-10 vs. AP Final 11-20 vs. Final Unranked
Bo 6-25-1 (.203) 16-8 (.667) 172-15-4 (.911)
Mo 2-7-1 (.250) 7-2 (.777) 35-4-2 (.878)
Lloyd 10-14 (.417) 14-6 (.700) 98-20 (.831)
RR 0-8 (.000) 0-3 (.000) 15-11 (.577)
Brady 0-3 (.000) 1-1 (.500) 18-3 (.857)

Final rankings may give you a better overall picture by removing most of the pre-season bias, but with final rankings a big caveat also applies:  When you beat a team, its final ranking drops.  When you lose to a team, its final ranking rises.  Beating a good team makes it look worse to the poll voters.  So in general, the coaches should have worse winning percentages against teams in the final rankings than they'd have against teams ranked at game time.

The observations:

  • Bo’s REALLY kicking ass against the unranked dregs (Mo and Hoke too), but not doing so hot against teams having great seasons. It makes sense that a coach’s record against the final Top 10 should not be great, but Bo’s was pretty dismal. All of the bowl losses certainly didn’t help him.
  • Lloyd’s 10-14 against the Final Top 10 is still pretty darned impressive, and his combined 24-20 against the Final Top 20 is fairly impressive as well. But again, he’s lagging behind in beating teams having unranked seasons.
  • RR of course was absolutely dismal against teams finishing in the Top 20. Wisconsin’s 2008 team was not able to crack the final Top 20 to put a single mark on the board for Coach Rod.

So it looks as if my first two initial thoughts were generally right.  Thusfar Lloyd was a pretty good big-game coach, taking his whole career into account (I’ll save comparisons of early career vs. late career for another piece).  And Brady’s not losing to a lot of teams that he has no business losing to.

But what about the schedule strength?  On average Bo faced fewer ranked teams in the days before 85-scholarship parity (in 1970 he didn’t face a single team ranked at game time or in the final rankings) and before the resumption of the Notre Dame series and the scheduling of Miami and Florida State.  Also, even in some of his best seasons the Big Ten didn’t let him go to a bowl game.  How many of their games on average did our coaches play against ranked teams?

Based on the game-time rankings:

  % of Games Played vs. AP 1-10 % of Games Played vs. AP 11-20 % of Games Played vs. Unranked
Bo 14.6% 13.4% 72.5%
Mo 21.7% 11.7% 66.7%
Lloyd 17.3% 18.5% 64.2%
RR 16.2% 13.5% 70.3%
Brady 7.7% 11.5% 80.8%

Based on final rankings:

  % of Games Played vs. AP Final 1-10 % of Games Played vs. AP Final 11-20 % of Games Played vs. Final Unranked
Bo 13% 9.7% 77.3%
Mo 16.7% 15% 68.3%
Lloyd 14.8% 12.3% 72.8%
RR 21.6% 8.1% 70.3%
Brady 11.5% 7.7% 80.8%


  • It looks like Mo’s schedules were indeed murder, whether you look at the game-time rankings or the final rankings.
  • Bo’s and Lloyd’s schedules got significantly easier when you look at the final rankings.
  • RichRod’s schedules became brutal when you look at the number of teams he faced that finished in the Top 10. But again, if you lose games, the teams you play look better in the final standings. And of course it’s a small sample size; if RR manages to beat Utah in 2008, Penn State in 2009, Iowa in 2009, or Wisconsin in 2010, those numbers look different.
  • Hoke hasn’t played a lot of high quality teams. Thanks, down Big Ten and watered-down non-con scheduling.

Given the disparity in schedule strength, let’s look at the coaches’ winning percentages as if Lloyd’s 13-year schedule is the measuring stick for schedule strength.  I think that’s fair, as 13 years is a pretty good sample size, Lloyd had both some really good and some bad seasons, and Lloyd’s tenure was the time in which Michigan’s schedule entered into our current era of weaker non-conference scheduling and greater parity as the effect of the 85-scholarship limit has fully set in.

For example, we’re going to take Bo’s .458 against the Top 10 at game time and assume that he’d played as many games against the Top 10, on a percentage basis, as Lloyd did, and so on.  How do our coaches’ career winning percentages stack up then?

Based on the game-time rankings:

  Actual Win % Win % Adjusted to Lloyd's Strength of Schedule Change
Bo .796 .775 -.021
Mo .758 .767 +.009
Lloyd .753 .753 n/a
RR .405 .388 -.017
Brady .720 .612 -.108

Based on the final rankings:

  Actual Win % Win % Adjusted to Lloyd's Strength of Schedule Change
Bo .796 .776 -.020
Mo .753 .773 +.015
Lloyd .753 .753 n/a
RR .405 .419 +.014
Brady .720 .684 -.036


  • When adjusting for schedule strength, Lloyd suddenly looks pretty good. He’s only around 20 points lower than Bo’s storied/heralded/legendary career. A swing of just four games in Lloyd’s career would’ve put him above Bo. If Lloyd goes 126-36 instead of 122-40, Lloyd becomes the Michigan coaching king when percentages are adjusted for schedule strength. And that’s not too big a stretch at all. Think about it: if Michigan had gotten few breaks in the 2000 season (i.e., Hayden Epstein doesn’t miss an extra point and a 24-yard field goal against UCLA; Michigan scores more than a field goal in the second half at Purdue; the A-Train holds on to the ball at Northwestern), and if Michigan hadn't given up just one of the several fourth-quarter blown leads in 2005, Lloyd would’ve had a better career winning percentage than Bo, equalized for schedule strength. But more on this later.
  • Again, Mo’s schedules were murder. His percentage rises when compared to Lloyd’s schedule strength.
  • RichRod’s also up in the final rankings, again because of the many opponents he played that wound up in the final Top 10.
  • Hoke doesn’t look so hot. But rebuilding and fusion cuisine and all that.

In the comparison of Lloyd to Bo above, we’ve adjusted Bo’s 1-10 percentage and 11-20 percentage to Lloyd’s frequency of playing in those games.  But playing the national No. 1 is usually a much tougher game than playing the national No. 10, or even No. 3.  I haven’t taken the time to adjust the winning percentages by frequency of playing every single spot in the rankings, but I have collected some info on how those guys did against the Top 2 and against the Top 5 at game time:

  Record vs. AP 1-2 Record vs. AP 1-5
Bo 3-6-1 (.350) 8-12-1 (.405)
Mo 0-3 (.000) 2-4-1 (.357)
Lloyd 3-3 (.500) 8-3 (.727)
RR n/a 0-1 (.000)
Brady 0-1 (.000) 0-2 (.000)

Those are some great numbers from Lloyd, but all of those games are 2003 or earlier, when he started 11-1 against the Top 10, aside from games against No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 1 Ohio State in 2006.  For what it’s worth, U-M hasn’t beaten an AP No. 1 since Miami in 1984.

So how often did the coaches play in really big games (using game-time rankings)?

  % of Games Played vs. AP 1-2 % of Games Played vs. AP 1-5
Bo 4% 8.5%
Mo 5% 11.7%
Lloyd 3.7% 6.8%
RR 0% 2.7%
Brady 3.8% 7.7%

So Bo played really big games just slightly more often than Lloyd did, and Mo’s murderous schedules are apparent here as well.  I’m not sure this difference between Bo and Lloyd is significant.  I’m still comfortable saying that Lloyd is only a touch behind Bo in terms of impressiveness of career.  Sacrilege?  Perhaps.  But in terms of wins, losses, and quality of opponents, I think that’s a fair statement.  Now, that's not saying anything about what Lloyd could have achieved, or how maddening it was to watch some of his games.  Of course, Bo sustained that level of success eight seasons longer than Lloyd did, and there's something to be said for that.

What do we get from all of this?  I think the stats support the wisdom of the ideas set out above:  Lloyd Carr was pretty darned good against ranked teams, but not as hot as he should’ve been otherwise; blame the 85-scholarship parity era for that.  Brady Hoke has generally won the games he should win.  And the 1990s schedules, particularly Gary Moeller’s, were potentially the most brutal stretch Michigan has ever faced.

And don't worry, I'll say it for myself:  Cool story, bro.

[Edited to correct Brady Hoke's 2-year record to 19-7 instead of 18-7.  All stats accordingly corrected.]



September 12th, 2013 at 2:48 PM ^

Just did a quick count and could be off, but I'm getting 19 of the 22 wins against end of season top-20 teams coming against Big Ten opponents.  Curious what the winning percentage is, but it doesn't look good against anyone with a pulse from outside the conference.


September 13th, 2013 at 8:05 AM ^

Look at '97. Great season by any measure. Don't care who you're playing, going undefeated is a tremendous feat. Take away just one player, however, and we probably lose to 3 teams. Also consider that many of the wins, i.e., CO were against teams highly overranked in the preseason w/o having played one damn game. Our SOS, measured no. 1(how in the fuck can you even do that) before the season starts and then look at the actual SOS based on where those teams ended in final poll will give you a damn good idea of just how weak that schedule was that season.  Also consider Bo was almost always squaring off-especially against USC- among not only the  highest ranked teams in the nation, but actually best teams as well in the bowl games because we weren't getting consolation bowl invitation. Instead we were winning or coming in second. That's why we played the likes of NE, OU, both during their peak years, and that was our consolation for either not being able to go to the RB back-to-back years or finishing second and allowing OSU to go to the Rose Bowl and get beaten up.   Different eras as you mentioned. But as weak as the rest of the Big Ten was during that period, the opposition we played in the bowl games were among the best in the nation.  Also we didn't lose NC aspirations until a middle of the schedule bump or until the final week in November as opposed to continuously being out of contention by the first two weeks of Sept. Season's were just more exciting then because we actually mattered the entire season.

Willis Ward

September 13th, 2013 at 11:40 AM ^

One of the things you have to keep in mind when comparing Bo's record against unranked teams and the more recent coaches is the scholarship limitations that came in post-Bo.  Not to take anything away from Bo, but he had players on his roster sitting on the bench that would be playing for the Indianas of the world when the other guys were coaching.


September 12th, 2013 at 2:59 PM ^

brady has only lost one game to an unranked team....Iowa

2012 Ohio was 4th in one poll and went 12-0, and I'm still trying to figure out this other phantom unranked foe between Alabama, South Carolina, Nebraska, Notre Dame, and 2011 MSU. All ranked teams, or was MSU unranked when we played them? They certainly finished in the top 15-20 that year. Plus Hoke's record is 21-7 as of right now, and was 19-7 entering this year.

Looking at Lloyd's numbers make me sad, what could have been from 1998-2007 (and we were still good overall)...could have had a couple more champions if they actually played to up to their talent level say against, Iowa, Illinois, 2001 MSU, APP STATE, running QB's etc.

Bo had his back against the wall playing so many road games in the Rose Bowl against ranked teams

Moeller is another "what could have been" stupid night. I'm too young to remember, but judging by his rosters, tough schedules, and general success, (bad luck vs. Colorado) I really feel like he could have been a 20 year great.

J.W. Wells Co.

September 12th, 2013 at 3:20 PM ^

Brady Hoke's three "unranked" losses were 2011 MSU, 2011 Iowa, and 2012 Nebraska.  Remember I'm only considering AP rankings, and only the Top 20 (because only the Top 20 were ranked until 1989).  2011 MSU was not ranked in the Top 20 at game time.

I edited the diary to account for Hoke's 2-year record as 19-7 instead of 18-7.  I dropped a game somewhere.  I just corrected all the stats to account for the error.  Apologies.


September 12th, 2013 at 3:14 PM ^

Interesting stuff, but why are you not counting three of Hoke's victories?  He's 21-7 (.750) right now, having gone 11-2 and 8-5 the last two years and 2-0 so far this season.


September 12th, 2013 at 3:15 PM ^

A man who could have accomplished much more except for stubborn tendencies.

1999 was most certainly a missed national championship season.

He should have stomped Jim Tressel into the ground in 2001. The game was at Michigan Stadium, we were still on a roll versus OSU. Tressel talked trashed to start his tenure at OSU. Michigan for three solid quarters Michigan laid an egg before a last ditched comeback fell short. The loss cost the team the Big 10 championship.

Ending up with a losing record against OSU despite starting so strong

Losing to Appalachian State, I remember fuming after that game and many weeks to come. Prior to "This is Michigan" becoming a hallowed trademark. I said in 2007, "This is Michigan, WE DO NOT LOSE TO DIVISION 1AA SCHOOLS PERIOD."

Losing so much in September!

Failing starting from 1998 to 2007 to figure out how to stop a running quarterback. Nine years is way too much time to grant a coach the opportunity to solve a problem. We didn't solve that problem until Greg Mattison returned.


September 12th, 2013 at 3:39 PM ^

Michigan for three solid quarters Michigan laid an egg before a last ditched comeback fell short. The loss cost the team the Big 10 championship.

Two quarters actually.  We were down 23-0 at halftme, but drove right down for a TD on our opening possession of the 3rd and drove again in our next possession .  . . only for Marquise Walker to uncharacteristically drop a wide-open TD (and then, to add insult to injury, Hayden Epstein missed the FG attempt).  If he catches that ball, it's 23-14 midway through the 3rd and I think we go on to win.  


Eye of the Tiger

September 13th, 2013 at 11:00 AM ^

Considering his win .pct, the good record against ranked opponents, the 1997 national championship, all the Big 10 Championships AND keeping in mind what happened when we "modernized" in 2008, it's like arguing that we settled for an A-/B+ when an A was in reach (but not counting that worse grades were also possible).

And I guess that's how I'd characterize Lloyd's coaching career: an A-, with a few Bs in there (2001, 2005, 2007). Occasional greatness and a lot of consistency over a long period of time, but a few glaring, recurrent issues that kept it from being truly elite. 

I think, right now, Brady Hoke has us back up to B+ and on a trajectory to eventually surpass Lloyd--and dare I say it, the rest as well. But only time will tell. 



September 12th, 2013 at 3:41 PM ^

"When adjusting for schedule strength, Lloyd suddenly looks pretty good. He’s only around 20 points lower than Bo’s storied/heralded/legendary career. A swing of just four games in Lloyd’s career would’ve put him above Bo. If Lloyd goes 126-36 instead of 122-40, Lloyd becomes the Michigan coaching king when percentages are adjusted for schedule strength. And that’s not too big a stretch at all. Think about it: if Michigan had gotten few breaks in the 2000 season (i.e., Hayden Epstein doesn’t miss an extra point and a 24-yard field goal against UCLA; Michigan scores more than a field goal in the second half at Purdue; the A-Train holds on to the ball at Northwestern), and if Michigan hadn't given up just one of the several fourth-quarter blown leads in 2005, Lloyd would’ve had a better career winning percentage than Bo, equalized for schedule strength."

I guess.  But you could also play the painful "what if" game in Bo's case against top ranked competition in his final years. 

If Mike Gillette's last second field goal against eventual national champion Notre Dame is just a couple inches to the left, if #1 Miami doesn't recover that onside kick in the 4th quarter the very next week, if Bo doesn't kick to Rocket Ismail the second time in 89 and if that asswipe official Jim Kemberline doesn't call that phantom holding call on Chris Stapleton's fake punt against USC in the Rose Bowl, Lloyd would have no shot of catching Bo in winning % equalized for schedule strength.  All of those opponents were better than the teams we lost to in 2000 and 2005.  That blown call in the Rose Bowl could have cost Bo a shot at a share of the national championship his final season. 

O.K., now I have to go kick something.


September 12th, 2013 at 4:47 PM ^

as pertinent.  However, this in no way sheds light on who the best coach was. You didn't factor in such vital stats as what shape the program was in when coaches took over, i.e., Bo inheriting more future AAs in any 5years span than any other coach in Michigan history. Yet somehow it took Bo to develop them because Bump just wasn't too good at that, but knowing people who played for him it's easy to see why. He had a difficult, very difficult time separating coaching from politics, i.e., whose daddy was a M grad, whose daddy wasn't.  There is no doubt in modern day fb, Oosterbaan inherited the program in best shape ever and RR the worst.  Oosterbaan won big with Crisler's players but his record after Crisler's graduates sucked. And let's face it, no coach in America could have went 11-2 with what Lloyd left, yet RR popularly portrayed as the guy that sank M football for a three year period left Brady with the talent to do so.  So Brady, much like Bo, Mo and Lo  inherited players capable of winning now and Bump, much like RR inherited a program that needed a major overall before they could even think of winning.  And of all the coaches listed, all of yours and the ones I added, took over programs that were going through rough times and brought them back or will(I'm sure of it Brady) to the top level of cfb again.  I base this on his work at his other two stops where he went from basement dwellers to league champions.   Any coach worth his salt could have taken what Crisler and Bo handed off and won, and they did.  The teams that were handed to Elliot and RR took some time, and in RR's case, was basically minus a full year's worth of scholarship players.  So much more than winning percentage goes in to determining the worth of game day coaches.  How many think Carr could have built a program like Bo? Inheritance was his only chance because he hadn't served in capacity as head coach before, minus high school.   I can't deny your numbers, but I can contest if they would have been the same if said coaches were all given equal talent, same experience, shape of program when taking over, etc.  When all is said and done, it will be Bo and Brady right up there with Yost and Crisler and LC an excellent caretaker until he lost interest or gained interest in something else. Whatever, there was definitely a problem brewing and strange happenings during his last three years.   I just wish Mo wouldn't have had the meltdown because ultimately he was the mind behind moving the offense into then "modern" times. I say then because the spread and shread didn't exist and the run and shoot did not have nearly the success.  There was also no mention of Landry's fg that was good against OSU and Charles White fumble that clearly dropped out, and although I can laugh at it now if you look at page 211 of Tradition, it seems odd that one official is signaling TD while the other no more than three yards away and standing directly over the Michigan fb player with the ball at about the one and 1/2 has his arm stretched toward Michigan's goal, a clear signal that a fumble had taken place and was recovered by the defense. Of all the numbers you put forth, and you did a hell of a job, I don't think when it came to luck, no one's was worse than Bo's.  


September 12th, 2013 at 4:21 PM ^

During Bo's a lot of the Big Ten wasn't much better than the MAC is now with the way they could stockpile scholarships.  Mo was right in the heart of the we'l play anybody phase.  Then the scholarship limits started taking place and games like Northwestern and Wisconsin that used to be like playing Central were losable games, whether they were ranked or not.  From 93-2000 the Big Ten won 7 of 8 Rose Bowls.  It was a good conference. Lloyd endured all that, and started in the "play anyone era" but then finished in the "we'll play MAC schools and worse" era that continued on through Rich and now Brady. And the conference has been pretty crappy for awhile.


September 12th, 2013 at 4:46 PM ^

the 16-14 loss to Purdue in 1976. Michigan was ranked #1 all season long up until then and they dominated the oppositon in every phase of the game, #1 offense #1 defense and they finished out the Big Ten season with a total domination of the Buckeyes in the 'Shoe' 22-0. 

If we don't lose to Purdue and the Ref's don't give Charles White a 'Phantom Touchdown' in the Rose Bowl it would have been one of the most dominating single seasons in College Football history.

Michigan ended the season ranked first in the country in total offense (448.1 yards per game), scoring offense (38.7 points per game), and scoring defense (7.2 points per game).

It was magical season until November 9th 1976, I listened to the game on the radio and couldn't believe my ears when it was over and we lost.


September 12th, 2013 at 4:54 PM ^

The Charles White phantom touchdown happened two years later to the 78 team. 

The 76 team lost to USC 14-6 in the Rose Bowl.  And as far as I know, that was the one time the Trojans didn't benefit from blown calls, fluke plays and an opposing coach having a heart attack the night before the game.  (My GOD.  USC deserves so much karma in that bowl game.) 


September 12th, 2013 at 4:54 PM ^

Mo and Lloyd were good coaches, but they both had the advantage of a program that was already rolling.  Bo took over for Bump who had been playing .500 football for near a decade.  Hoke took over for a (blessedly short lived) .400 coach.  These things matter.


September 13th, 2013 at 7:52 AM ^

final three years, basically. You should thank that .400 coach for at least having a full allotment of players on the field, players that allowed him to win 11 games his first year. Quite possible he did know how to evaluat talent. That they were able to do so w/o implementing his offense is further testament to having play makers on hand. About as 180 as you can get from the mess RR inherited. Talk about a guy set up for failure from the time he took over. LC had a good run, but don't think he was capable of building a program.  And he never realized until his final game, with the outstanding qbs and wrs he had, could and should have used the pass first to tear apart a defense so Hart and others could have ran through wide open lanes instead of being bruised the entire season because of the "we will run the ball, damnit"  strategy. Sounds like good "old school" tough football coaching, but goes completely against getting the most out of talent on hand. Hell, the guy should have left with a winning percentage closer to Yost's than Bo's.


September 15th, 2013 at 3:19 AM ^

transferring, and his reasoning? " I just felt it was in the best interests of the players I recruited for a certain style of football."  WTF? Did he just state the degree from UM doesn't matter?  This is the guy that went into Bo's office, crying, saying, "Bo, I just can't handle this pressure." Let's just say he left a far better man.


September 15th, 2013 at 9:59 PM ^

But when you're trying to defend Rich's record I'm not surprised you're reduced to making shit up.

Fact of the matter there were a number of guys on the roster when Rich took over (Mallett, Boren, Mitchell, etc) that didn't want to stick around. Rich thought his time was better spent recruiting Pryor than Mallett. Nuff said.


September 15th, 2013 at 8:37 AM ^

It's not about who was here when he got here.  Its about "program prestige" and the level of athletes Michigan was able to recruit.  Whether Carr was "mailing it in" or not, that was not the public perception.  And Michigan was still recruiting at an elite level.  Then you win three and five and seven games, unprecedented failure in program history.  By the time Rodriguez was done embarrasing the program, we were fighting MSU for 3 star recruits.


September 13th, 2013 at 5:05 PM ^

Michigan wound up 8-3 in Bo's first season. He inherited a team that went 8-2 the previous year, and had two future College Football and NFL HOF offensive linemen in Dan Dierdorf and Reggie McKenzie. 

In his first six games, Gary Moeller was 3-3, including back to back home losses to MSU and Iowa and he lost his first game to ND in 1990. Despite this, Michigan still went on to win the Big Ten, beating Ohio in Columbus 16-13. HIs first team went 9-3.  He inherited 10-2 team that went undefeated in Big Ten play. 

Bo said he was glad that when he left the program, he gave Moeller a well-stocked team that he expected to be a championship contender. 

Lloyd was 5-0 as a first year coach before losing to Northwestern, MSU and Penn State. Michigan wound up 9-4  his first year. He inherited an 8-4 team. 

Michigan lost by a field goal to MSU, two field goals to Northwestern and 10 points to Penn State. 

We all know the RR story and the debate over the roster and how Lloyd both recommended him for the job, and then seemingly sabotaged him, while Michigan's new-fangled enterprise hardly captured the acceptance of the fan base. And so, when it was turned over to a refugee from the Carr era with a complete understanding of the Carr and Bo legacy, he went 11-2 in his first year, bringing back the DC that Carr first hired to run his defense.

Now, memory and history are two different things. And the fact is, Michigan as Coach Hoke notes, has always been an elite football program. And now we are seeing the building blocks being put in place to re-establish this identity in football reality. 

You can claim whatever storyline suits your memory in terms of recounting history and how you perceive it without checking the facts. But there are two issues that clearly jump out in in the recollection of how these guys worked out comparatively after their hiring: One they maintained or re-established a Michigan identity, and their backgrounds and connection with the program made them perfect coaching candidates. Bo, Mo, Lloyd and Brady all beat Ohio in their first year as coach.

The lone exception, of course, is RR, who coincidentally is the only outsider to coach at Michigan since Bo, who ironically, is the standard bearer in the modern era for what it means to coach at Michigan. 


September 12th, 2013 at 5:14 PM ^

Lloyd Carr was pretty darned good against ranked teams, but not as hot as he should’ve been otherwise; blame the 85-scholarship parity era for that.

I don't blame the 85-scholarship era for that. For some reason, Lloyd occasionally let the players get complacent against teams they had no business losing to.


September 12th, 2013 at 8:29 PM ^

the importance of "ranked" opponents has changed. When Bo was coaching, noone cared about perfromance against "ranked" opponents. The Rose Bowl remained as a reward to the BIg Ten team that won the conference (for varying definitions of won). What mattered was beating Ohio State and winning the Big Ten in that order. 

National ranking didn't matter much. Beating Ohio State was everything. Did Bo and his teams want to win their bowl game? Of course, but that was far less important than the fact that usually they had beaten Ohio State to get there. People focus on what they are incentivized to accomplish. During Bo's time as coach that was to beat Ohio State, and win the Big Ten.

I was a student for much of the ten year war. No one really cared about rankings, or bowls. Beat Ohio and go to the Rose Bowl. That defined success.


September 12th, 2013 at 11:10 PM ^

I don't know if it's really valid to compare raw statistics like that across eras. The rules have changed a lot since Bo started coaching--letting linemen use their hands was maybe the biggest change in the game in my lifetime, but there have been lots of others too. More often than not they've favored the offense, I suspect.

It might be better to compare points per game to the average across FBS for that season.

Eye of the Tiger

September 13th, 2013 at 10:59 AM ^

And also think, with all the nitpicking, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that Carr was a very successful coach over a very long period. That said, you can divide his tenure into three periods:

1) Early Struggles (1995-6)

2) Golden Age (1997-2004)

3) Late Inconsistency (2005-7)

I remember reading a preview (in SI or Sporting News) prior to the 1997 season, which ranked us #17. It then said something like "face it, Michigan isn't what it used to be." That was obviously more a comment on Carr's first two years (and Mo's last year) than anything else, but it highlights that Carr struggled in the beginning--and despite having those killer defenses and world-beating RBs. 

From 1997-2004 we had four top 10 finishes, five 10+ win seasons, won five bowl games and almost beat Vince Young's Texas for a sixth.

Then we had a disappointing 2005 season, the 2006 that could have been (but wasn't) and 2007, where we embarrassed ourselves in the first two games but then redeemed ourselves against Urban Meyer/Tim Tebow Florida. 

Could it have been better? Probably--Carr's late-game lead-protection neurosis in particular was something that cost us multiple games over time.  

But could it have been worse? Certainly. It got worse immediately after he left. And as bad as he was protecting a lead, he was great when in striking distance of one. Had he not been, we would have lost multiple games over time that we ended up winning.