My talk with Coach Carr

Submitted by go16blue on September 13th, 2011 at 9:14 PM

I just had the priveledge of going to a relatively exclusive talk by Lloyd Carr sponsored by the Jewish Federation. There were probably 30 of us total, and it was held in the house of a guy who had the idea to host a series of talks/get togethers featuring important people in the jewish/local community. The reason he knows Lloyd is that his house was previously Yost's house, the Little Big House as Yost called it, and Lloyd went to visit once. It was an amazing experience, and truly once in a lifetime. Coach Carr was just as classy and smart as expected, and was very kind. We had a short chat about my school, and he (along with everyone these days) asked me where I was thinking about going to college. This question is asked so much that it usually annoys me, but it was Coach Carr so I was to happy to be talking to him to care. Anyways, on to the good stuff.

He started his talk by giving us a quick activity simulating the fundamental football play - the center-quarterback exchange. He walked us through a QB's cadence, and how complex everything is by saying what a QB would say, and having us all clap at the snap. We had some fun with that, and our group had quite a few false starts.

He then got into some stories he had, starting with some advice Bo gave him-the only people who should affect how he coaches are his assistants. The media and fans shouldn't affect it at all (in other words, haters gonna hate, go with your gut). He talked about his first game, and starting a Scott Dreisbach at QB ("Keep in mind that this kid haden't taken a single snap from under center, he had never played a single game.... In other words, we didn't have experience at the position." that last bit got some laughs), and how this advice helped his decision to keep Dreisbach in the game and eventually win it.

My favorite story was about his experience recruiting under Bo. He talked about one kid, a QB from Chicago, who the assistants were very exited about ("This was a kid who could really have stepped in and made an impact on the team"). Him and Bo went to his house on a visit, and the kid kept ordering his mom around like a maid. After only 5 minutes, Bo said "Well, Lloyd, its time for us to go." Lloyd was absolutely shocked that Bo would want to end the visit that early, but Bo had already gotten up so he went with him. Once they left, Bo asked him how they could expect the kid to respect them as coaches if he didn't even respect his own mother. Similarly, there would be many times when Bo liked a kid, but the assistants really didn't want to use an offer on him. Bo had his way though, and Lloyd said that by the end of that kid's 4 years he was a real player. He may not have been the most athletic, but he became a real contributer to the team because of his toughness and heart.

Then he opened it up to questions, and of course the first one was about RR and how he didn't really get those things that Bo had tought Lloyd. Lloyd did a good job of not really saying much about that specifically, but he did say that when he was coach Bo was always part of the program, and was there for him. Lloyd didn't want to be that guy, so he promised himself to stay out of it for 4 years ("Those 4 years are almost up." I'm not sure if Lloyd really meant he would make a lot more statements after the 4 years, but I'm sure he will become more involved in some way). He didn't really say how this affected RR, but the implication is that there were a lot of times when RR was disconnected with the University's history-whether it be past coaches, or whatever. The one thing he did say about RR was that he didn't really think his offense fit in the Big Ten. "If you look at the best teams in the Big Ten - Ohio State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Penn State1, they are all big tough teams. When they line up, the goal is to wear down the other guy. Under RR, Michigan got smaller and faster. And during his 3 years, his teams consistently wore down half way through the year." I'll leave it up to you guys to judge that statement's validity, but I think its interesting to hear from Lloyd, especially because he's been so silent on the whole thing.

Last but not least, he talked about his charity work. He and his wife do (as we know) a ton for Mott, and plenty of other organizations. He said he chose what organizations to give his time and money to by trust and what they do, and he said he did all he did for these organizations because "Well, I've got nothing better do to" (jokingly).

I'm sure there are some things I'm leaving out, but those were the highlights. I hope you got something out of it, I know I always like when someone retells an account like this on mgoblog.

1 Notice that he didn't name MSU. :D


Space Coyote

September 13th, 2011 at 10:04 PM ^

His comment, whether you believe it or not, was that RR's teams wore down in the second half of the season.  Though his record shows some evidence of that, I'm not sure I believe it too much.  At the same time, losing to App. St. and Oregon at the beginning of the season isn't the point he was making.  I highly suspect App. St. would have been a rag doll if they played half a Big Ten season and Oregon lost Dixon, their QB, in the Pac 10 and turned out much worse because of it.  I'm sure something similar may well have happened in a more physical Big Ten as well.  Just saying there seems to be some connections to what he is saying, though to how large of a degree I don't know.


September 13th, 2011 at 9:44 PM ^

however I was puzzled by the following:  ". . .Bo was always part of the program, and was there for him. Lloyd didn't want to be that guy, so he promised himself to stay out of it for 4 years  . . .".  It sounded as if Lloyd appreciated having Bo there and that it was beneficial, yet he didn't want "to be that guy"?  That makes no sense to me.  It seems awful ironic that this never came before but now allows for him to cover the RR years and hide behind one more with Hoke.  Something just seems amiss.

Space Coyote

September 13th, 2011 at 10:00 PM ^

The only thing I can think is that Carr was saying that sometimes it made it difficult to always have Bo hovering around.  Maybe it made it feel like Carr wasn't really the head of the program, that it was still Bo's program per se, and even though Carr was greatful for Bo's presence he didn't necessarily want to hold that over RR as Bo in a way held it over him.  That's the only thing I can think of that makes sense.


September 13th, 2011 at 10:53 PM ^

It could be this. It could also be that he just wanted to get away for a while, not just in dealing with the coach, but also the media and athletic department in general. It's probably some of both. He didn't go into that part with much detail, but you guys are right, it doesn't make much sense. Another aspect of this could be that Bo was not only Lloyd's mentor, but also friend. Even if he wanted to, Lloyd probably couldn't assume the same role with the next coach as Bo did with him.


September 13th, 2011 at 9:47 PM ^

Wow; some real dickheads on this thread.  Carr's a great guy and it was interesting to hear that he's pretty much the same in relatively private settings as he is in very public ones. Regardless of what his legacy as a HC is or isn't, he is first class.  Cool story, Hansel.


September 13th, 2011 at 9:57 PM ^

I really hate hearing negative stuff about Lloyd. The guy gave a lot to Michigan (How about the 2007/2008 Orange Bowl for starters). Aren't we better fans than that? If we're not, then I don't want to hear people complaining about other fanbases and how much they suck.  


September 14th, 2011 at 2:32 PM ^

he sabatoged RR from behind the scenes. He didn't make him feel welcome or comfortable. If Lloyd came out as a RR supporter (even if it was a few words to a local newspaper), it would have prevented some issues.

Anyway, this debate is pointless and will really begin after John U's book comes out!

Section 1

September 14th, 2011 at 3:46 PM ^

Before that, I had years of experience, defending Lloyd Carr to casual Detroit-area sports fans, most of whom didn't attend all the games as I did.  I liked Carr and I was always comfortable defending him.

Whether, and how, Carr personally interacted with Rich Rodriguez is a matter I'll leave to the two coaches.  And, as you very rightly say, the Bacon book may be HUGE.

I will always be disappointed in Carr for not doing more to stand up to Rosenberg at the time of the Free Press attacks.  That was never a matter of personal fellings about Rodriguez.  That was a matter or real, serious injury to the football program, irrespective of coaching staffs.  Carr could have said something then.  Not out of any loyalty, or coverup, or anything like that.  But out of honesty and fairness and integrity.  Carr should have said something then.  Carr was being used by Rosenberg, to say to the Freep readership why Rodriguez had taken the program to such depths of disgrace and flagrant rules-violations, and how things had been so pure for decades prior and the ghosts of Yost and Crisler and Bo and yadda yadda yadda.   (Yeah, right.)  Carr should have said something at the time.

Carr's position ought to be the same as David Brandon's position -- that Michigan will always try to be better than anybody at everything, including Compliance; and that while some mistakes needed correction, the simple fact was that the newspaper story was an awful, inexcusable, deliberate attack.  It never did Michigan any good whatsoever; it didn't cure the program of any great ills, it didn't protect any of the student athletes from any abuse, and it didn't even result in the firing of Rich Rodriguez.  (It did irrevocably poison the atmosphere around Rodriguez and his staff, thanks in large part to the silence of people like Carr.  And that probably later set the stage for Rodriguez's dismissal.)

I think it would be fascinating, and a privilege, to attend a dinner like this with Coach Carr.  But I know that I wouldn't bother asking him about the Rodriguez offense, or recruiting, or one of the other topics that require him to judge Coach Rodriguez, because Carr wouldn't do it. 

But I sure as hell would ask Carr about Michael Rosenberg.  Because I am not at all clear on Carr's relationship with Rosenberg.  I think that the two of them have been pretty friendly in the past.  And, maybe, the present.  If Carr has a relationship with Rosenberg that is anything other than openly hostile, then Coach Carr is not on the same page as Michigan's Athletic Director and that is something to think about.


September 13th, 2011 at 10:17 PM ^

We hear way too much about big & slow vs. small & fast. For some reason we don't hear much about big & fast. Alabama (particularly in the secondary) shows us that big and fast are both valuable and not mutually exclusive. Jake Long, too.

For those who think big is all that matters, take another look at OSU vs. Florida a few years ago. Tell me how Alex Boone did.

For those that favor fast, tell me how Big East linebackers (of the 'tweener variety) do when facing Big Ten offensive lines.

- - -

It must have been pleasant hearing Lloyd speak. I'd guess that he does well in environments like that. I just wish he wouldn't join the simple-minded people who obsess about size on this 'blog. It's just not that simple.


September 14th, 2011 at 12:02 AM ^

We don't hear about big & fast because that's what everybody definitely wants.  The perfect defense and offense is composed of players who are bigger than the other team AND faster than the other team.  Those players are 5 stars on Scout/Rivals.  Nobody disagrees that big and fast is the best.

The interesting question is when you can't get the perfect player, which do you prefer.  Rodriguez (and many others) likes fast guys while Lloyd (and many others) likes big guys.  There isn't really a wrong answer as long as your scheme uses your team's size or speed correctly.


September 13th, 2011 at 10:47 PM ^

he (along with everyone these days) asked me where I was thinking about going to college. This question is asked so much that it usually annoys me

Okay, I have to ask this question, sorry to digress.  If this annoys you so much why are you attending functions like this where it is almost certainly to be asked?  Seems to me you could easily avoid this constant annoyance if you simply spent your time doing something else.

I know I may get slammed for this but I am still basking in the glow of Saturday night too much to care...I just get annoyed with the self-serving stuff.

Otherwise very good post...thanks.



September 13th, 2011 at 10:48 PM ^

Its not just these functions, its almost every adult I meet these days. It doesnt matter when or where. I went to this function because Coach Carr was speaking, and I knew I probably wouldnt get this kind of opprotunity again.


September 14th, 2011 at 12:12 AM ^

stories like this always make me regret not talking to carr when i saw him at village corner, standing there grinning at me. (i didn't realize until too late that i was wearing a rose bowl hoodie, thus the grinning, and i didn't really want to bother him, so i just said hi and smiled and kept walking.)

cool story, right?


September 14th, 2011 at 8:07 AM ^

my little cool story. we were walking back after the game on saturday, just following the crowd up edgewood b.c we were in too much of a daze to think of where we were going. we got to pauline, i looked back to check for cars - and noticed a vaguely familiar man walking towards me. i continued to stare at him, and when he said 'Hi' like he was used to being stared at, i realized i was right - it was coach carr. i offered a feeble 'go blue!' and he said, 'good game, huh?' and i said, 'AWESOME game!'. there literally could not have been a better ending to that night.


September 14th, 2011 at 3:22 PM ^

We may not all have agreed on his coaching philosophy, particularly his last few years, but Carr seems to be a great human being. I wish him the best. It will be interesting to see if the 4-year thing will really pan out and if he'll get more involved in the program after that, particularly since he has a good relationship with Hoke.