My Encounter With Coach Carr Last Night

Submitted by JimLahey on April 22nd, 2011 at 9:21 PM

[Ed-M: We've been waiting for you Obi-Jim. The write-up is now complete: bumped]

Evening, folks. Last night I had the honor of meeting and having a pleasant conversation with Lloyd Carr, so I thought I would share the story. Nothing too exciting but some of you may find it interesting.

One of my friends, who is a prominent athlete from Windsor (prominent to Windsor people, probably not to you guys) was up for an award at the Wespys. So i went with him without even knowing that Lloyd was the keynote speaker. When I found out, excitement ran over me. After the awards, we went to his table and he told us to sit down as he congratulated my friend for being nominated, although he didn't win. I should mention at this point that when one meets Lloyd Carr, he exudes class and sincerity even before he begins to speak. He then asked me if I was up for any awards, to which I replied that I was simply a spectator and am currently in law school. His reaction to this was to ask what I studied as an undergrad. When I mentioned philosophy, he said "Wow, that's excellent, you must be a heavy reader."

As a Michigan football fan of gargantuan proportions and a boy who became a man during the Lloyd Carr era, my first reaction upon hearing that Coach Carr would be speaking at the event was to behave like a child meeting Santa Claus and ask him a million football related questions. However, as someone who intends to become a hockey agent after law school and who knows a few athletes, I understand that these people receive the same questions ad nauseum from the general public. It is understandable, but at some point they develop pre-packaged, often repeated, and extremely generic answers to these encounters after hearing them constantly. Thus, I decided to refrain from asking any football questions at all and just enjoy his company.

The conversation was about 8-10 minutes long and we mostly discussed literature and philosophy. There was a great point in the conversation when we talked about writers who make their work inaccessible to most people by unnecessarily writing in complex schemes just for complexity's sake. I said I prefered the simple, classic, and understated genius of writers like Mark Twain and Charles Dickens, whose complexities come from the depth of their characters. He agreed.

When it was time to go, I shook his hand and told him it was a pleasure to meet him, to which he responded, and I'm paraphrasing, "You're a very charismatic young man and I'm sure you will go far." This, to say the least, made me feel like a million dollars well into today, and probably beyond.

So, I have nothing new for you guys, no inside knowledge about about his opinions on Hoke, Denard, or Rodriguez. Just a very enjoyable evening with a world-class human being and someone we should all be proud to say coached our football team. Thanks for reading.



April 22nd, 2011 at 9:36 PM ^

Everything I've ever heard about this guy is nothing short of awesome. He was my uncles PE teacher at John Glenn, and even as a PE teacher he was loved by both of them.

(Not a knock against PE teachers, just sayin'...)

Naked Bootlegger

April 22nd, 2011 at 9:36 PM ^

You mean you didn't ask him about his coaching tree or why his former Big Uglies tend to gravitate toward politics as a post-football career or what he was thinking when he awarded Tyrone Butterfield the #1 jersey?!    (NOTE:  Heavy, heavy /S).

At the risk of getting all "cool story bro" on you, thanks for passing on that encounter.   Your  story confirms many other behind-the-scene stories I have heard about Lloyd.  He's a gentleman, a thinker, and a class individual.   I longingly wish he would've defeated OSU in '07, won a mythical NC, and retired at the 50 yard line while caressing the Sears Trophy (or whatever the NC trophy is called nowadays).  He deserved that ending. 






April 22nd, 2011 at 11:48 PM ^

Lloyd deserved that ending, I agree. That said, his ending reads pretty well: successful head coach at the University of Michigan and National Champion 1997. Lloyd was a great representative for all the things that are right about attending university and about learning/developing as a person more generally. Lloyd Carr's legacy is one of his understanding the unique needs of student athletes and helping them to become quality men and citizens. Given his difficulties, at times, with TSIO it's interesting to compare his legacy today to the once sainted coach in Columbus.


April 22nd, 2011 at 9:38 PM ^

That story is exactly what I expected from someone who engaged Coach Carr on that level.  Which is what I loved about it.  Always struck me as a very genuine guy.


April 22nd, 2011 at 9:44 PM ^

Lloyd has some crazy people skills.

I've met Lloyd and ran into him several times in a two year stretch- each meeting almost a year apart and he remembered my name and where I attended college.

I know you have to have people skills to succeed at that level but that is just an insane memory.



April 23rd, 2011 at 11:02 AM ^

Never knew that was the case; sad if true. As a counterexample I'll say that Gordie Howe is about as classy as they come. He's a tangential family friend, and having spent a bit of time with him through my childhood, I can honestly say he's one of the nicest people you'll meet, and great with his family.

Just to add a "cool story brah moment", I have the only rulebook that he's ever signed, or will sign. It's a pretty unique thing to have, especially considering his style of play.


April 23rd, 2011 at 11:10 AM ^

That's awesome. Gordie is a legend, there will never be another player like him. With salaries the way they are, coaches/owners will never let star players be as aggressive as he was. The Howe vs. Lou Fontinato fight is one of my all time favorite hockey stories.


April 23rd, 2011 at 11:27 AM ^

It was definitely a different era with the stars back then. Ovechkin is about as close as I can think to Howe, but he's not really that close. Howe was a nasty player in more than one way. He didn't exactly take prisoners on his way down the ice/in the corners and made the play once he got in a position to score; truly an all around player.


April 23rd, 2011 at 3:37 PM ^

I had the chance to meet Carr a couple of times (not for as long as OP though) and always found him to be extremely cordial as well.  I could never quite understand his frosty relationship with the media.  The guy who gave press conferences seemed like an entirely different person.  



April 24th, 2011 at 12:51 AM ^

is because the media are a group of inquisitors who, at times, love to make stories of minor shit. And Lloyd had class and loyalty and did not want some hack to make drama for the program, ie, Freep. Furthermore, there is a major difference between fielding questions from the press, who like to make tension, and real people, who interact in the context of life events. Totally different. Long live LC, he is a man.



April 25th, 2011 at 2:03 PM ^

Lloyd definitely was protective of his players, and I completely respect that, but there were some times when he was unnecessarily hostile (like the "What kind of a dumb question is that?" answer to the sideline reporter against OSU).  It's not a big deal - he's a human being - but it just seemed strange compared to the guy off the field.


April 24th, 2011 at 12:06 AM ^

I recently got a bunch of books from my dad including the complete works of Dickens in several leather-bound novels that are about a century old. I started reading David Copperfield this week, and was probably at the Uriah Heep part right about when you two were talking about it. In short - WEIRD.


April 23rd, 2011 at 2:19 PM ^

Just the successor football coach and the athletic director who hired him, hence, the whole football program.

I don't mean to throw water on the OP's parade, because it's a great story. But what is so astonishing about the series of events that followed Carr's retirement is that it is exactly 180 degrees from everything LC otherwise apparently stood for. Ask Jim Brandstatter about it (where do you think his quote to ESPN about RR never having a chance came from?).

I too met Lloyd Carr some time ago in non-Michigan-related circumstances and he seemed to be a genuinely nice and interesting man. Carr may have been a great coach and a well-read, thoughtful person, but he threw all the good he ever did for the program aside to settle a score with Bill Martin and assuage his own ego. That speaks as much to his character as anything else.


April 23rd, 2011 at 4:04 PM ^

Brandy didn't throw anybody under the bus. He merely told ESPN that Rodriguez never had a fair chance. And it wasn't only about Rodriguez, it was about what happened to the program. THE TEAM, THE TEAM, THE TEAM. Sound familiar?

As I recall, you weren't in the room during my conversation with some well-placed people about this, so enjoy YOUR fantasy.


April 24th, 2011 at 12:57 AM ^

there is zero evidence that Carr was as described. No one other than posters and bloggers who give 3rd and 4th hand information say this. All of the evidence from those quoted who personally interacted with Carr are unanimous in their 'character' references. Hearsay is inadmissible damnit. Carr should be revered for the good coach and good man he is. No Wolverine would take such bullshit shots at Carr. Not to say he was a fanboy for RR, but Jesus, quit bashing Carr with your empty allegations of misconduct. Go Blue



April 24th, 2011 at 1:10 AM ^

Just as a reply to your every post of yours in this thread, I'll quote WatersDemos and say..."I like this post...a fucking lot."

I don't know LC firsthand, but I can tell you that I know people who know him, and I know people who have judged him from the moral/intellectual sphere, and the overwhelming consensus is that, if LC says something, it's true; he's a man of the highest moral standing. The other consensus I've heard is that he's an amazing and caring human being, which is backed up by more stories in this thread.

As an aside, you don't need "Go Blue" at the end to justify anything, your posts are worth it in their own right; hope to see more of them in the future.


April 25th, 2011 at 1:13 PM ^

Come on, if you really want to out people. I'll be glad to stack up the people I know around the program and department vs. yours. I wasn't making this a dick waving contest (you'd lose in more than the obvious ways), just that you say vague half-truths, with nothing to back them up. If you've got concrete statements, heard by people who were actually there...give them. It's not my job to disprove something happened. Show me the evidence that Brandy insinuated that Lloyd was deep-sixing the program, and Brandon fired him because of it, the evidence that no paper, blogger, tv reporter, or anyone else could find. But you KNOW.  Till then, save the fan fiction.

Desmonlon Edwoodson

April 22nd, 2011 at 10:09 PM ^

Lloyd Carr to me represents everything that is good about the University of Michigan.  Integrity.  Pansophic Excellence.  If I could choose to spend an hour talking to any living person, Lloyd Carr would be top 5.

Waters Demos

April 22nd, 2011 at 11:14 PM ^

Awesome that you had such a conversation with LC.

Interesting that you arrived at the conclusion of writers writing in a complex  way "for complexity's sake."

Some theorists (e.g., [and perhaps most prominently] Leo Strauss), argue that certain philosophers deliberately write in an "estoteric" style, which is marked not so much by "complexity for complexity's sake," but instead by deliberately creating two separate messages.

The first is a "surface" message, which comports with the feelings/emotions of the people.  It is meant only to make philosophy friendly to the people so they don't get pissed off. 

The other is the "true" message, which is too disturbing for most people, but will resonate with the few who are smart/strong enough to grasp it.

An example of this is Plato's Republic.  Another is Hobbes's Leviathan.  There are many before, in between, and after, but these are the two most prominent I could think of. 

Some regard this "esotericism" theory as either undemocratic, or presumptuous/pretentious, or both. 

If you're familiar with these "esoteric" studies at all, I'd be interested in knowing your view.  If not, cheers for the story brother. 


April 23rd, 2011 at 12:15 AM ^

Man, I did not realize how long of a response your question would require until I really thought it through. I don't even know where to start. I'm on my iPhone right now so I'll come back later on my laptop and respond. I'm not too sure Plato ever meant the Republic to be accessible to the common man. He thought of philosophy as the highest good (forms) and that it could only be practiced by a select few (the guardians/philosopher kings). Since his writings were works of philosophy, you can make your own deduction.

That's the first thing that came to mind. It was a very complex question that could be answered by entire books.

Waters Demos

April 23rd, 2011 at 10:59 AM ^

That's why I had originally edited this post - I figured "Hey, this guy's telling a story about Lloyd Carr; this doesn't belong here."

I think you're right about Plato's ultimate intent about reserving philosophy for the few.  The "esoteric" reading, however, takes account of the fact that the common man will be exposed to it, and in order to make philosophy friendly to the city, Plato hid his true message about inherent political difficulties (e.g., the permanent, irresolvable tension between the individual and the city, and that there is no true "justice," but instead only Thrasymachean manipulation) behind such doctrines as the forms/ideas (which he really didn't believe in at all).

Not sure I buy it - these studies depend a great deal on very subtle interpretations of the ancient greek, and that amount to no more than that, i.e., interpretations. 

IIRC, Plato wrote on wax tablets, and his writings were at least somewhat edited over the years.  Which suggests to me that whenever you read "Plato," you may not be reading "Plato" at all.  So to make arguments about Plato's intent, and the subtlety of his carefully crafted works with linguistic tricks to tip off the target reader and distract the common reader, seems ridiculous.  It's like ascribing "ultimate truth" status to a game of telephone. 

Moreover, it appears to amount to religious belief (to me, anyway) insofar as it turns Plato into some type of Deity figure, instead of just some really fucking smart guy from 5th Century Athens.  That's my two cents anyway.


April 23rd, 2011 at 11:15 AM ^

Very interesting stuff. The first thing that came to mind when you mentioned "esoteric" was something to do with religious mysticism (Gnostics, etc). As for Plato, that sounds like a pretty big leap of faith combined with a possible confirmation bias, as you mentioned. Then again, I'm not certain and I'm not going to pretend like I've done much work related to your question. I am certainly going to look into this a bit more.