Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Above the Fold - Lloyd Carr has one foot out of the door at Schembechler Hall

The news hit the series of tubes called the internets, and specifically the Michigan blogosphere, like a right cross from a young and still semi-lucid Mike Tyson. The go-to blog for anything and everything Michigan Wolverine related, the MGoBlog, had a jaw dropping scoop...

Three separate sources indicate that Carr has made his decision to retire official and people around the athletic department are being told. The formal announcement will come after the Ohio State game, possibly at the Monday press conference, possibly a day or two later.

Normally, I'd take such a blog post with a grain of salt. But Brian of the MGoBlog has proven that he does have connections deep inside the Michigan athletic department. He has posted inside information that has proved to be correct in the past. Like most Michigan fans who read the MGoBlog religiously, I'm taking the post at face value, and do believe that Lloyd Carr will take his playbook stamped with the Bo Schembechler seal of approval, and walk away from coaching.

Interestingly, the local MSM has nothing regarding the future of Carr, as Michigan has closed ranks during Ohio State week.

Mlive has an article implying that "Speculation" over Carr's future is swirling around the program, but no one's talking, especially Carr and AD Bill Martin.

Area sports talk radio buzzed loudly Monday with chatter about when Carr would step down. One Web site devoted to Michigan sports cited anonymous sources in a post that said the coach would retire after the Ohio State game, adding that athletic department personnel were already being told of the decision.

In a telephone interview, Michigan athletic director Bill Martin declined to comment on the Web site posting, saying that, like his coach, he preferred to focus on the game with the Buckeyes.

I also find it quite typical of the MSM to refer to the MGoBlog not by name, but as a "Web site devoted to Michigan sports."

At least Mlive has followed up on the rumor. What will you read at the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press? Plenty about the game, but as to the future of Carr? The Detroit MSM isn't exactly pressing the issue. The only mention is a couple of sentences buried deep in articles covering Carr's Monday presser.

In the Freep: While he wasn't budging on another question about his potential retirement -- "the only thing on my mind is this game," he said -- as every season winds down, the final regular-season game could be his last at Michigan. Whether he retires this year, next year or in five more, there's going to be a final Ohio State game, and it will determine, in some part, how he is evaluated.

In the News: Carr, on why questions about his future persist: "The only thing on my mind is this game."

At least the blogs are willing to delve into the issue.

As to who may replace Carr, The Big Lead throws a few names out there, but to be honest, I think they pulled some of these "Candidates" out their ass. I mean, come on. Gary Pinkel?

Who the next Michigan coach will be. Speculation will center around Michigan alum Les Miles, who has enjoyed much success at LSU in recent years. Contracts aside, here are three other names to keep in mind: Navy’s Paul Johnson (Beano Cook loves him), Missouri’s Gary Pinkel, and Boise State’ Chris Petersen.

Every Day Should Be Saturday doesn't bother talking about who may replace Carr, but instead ruminates on his legacy, which EDSBS finds very difficult to categorize. Orson Swindle ends up channeling the feelings of the vast majority Michigan fans. Carr was a fine coach, and a very good man, but the game has begun to pass him by, and it's best for all concerned if he steps down.

We love writing career obits of the glowing sort, and would like to write one here: a coach with a 121-38 record and a national title deserves that. It’s hard to do with Carr, though, both because of his personal elusiveness and the pattern of disappointment and near-miss flirtation with national titles and wins against Ohio State that marked the last five years of his tenure. (Hey, they did win Big Ten titles in ‘03 and ‘04.) It’s counterintuitive–writing about someone so successful should be like breathing. Yet with Carr, there’s a difficulty in this, especially given how tired Michigan fans are of losing bowl games to teams who coach rings around their “rock-throwing” coaching staff. It’s time for him to go, and without a trace of sentiment, tears, or nostalgia.

I personally feel much the same way. Carr was a good man, ran a clean program, played in a News Years Day bowl game nearly every season, won several Big 10 titles, and, of courrse, won the 1997 national title. That's quite a resume.

Michigan never fell to the depths of other "Elite" programs, such as Alabama, Nebraska, or Notre Dame, which is to Carr's credit. that's all well and good, but there was always the feeling that the Wolverines should have accomplished more than win 1/2 a national title a decade ago. You couldn't help feeling that Michigan did less with more, especially in the last 5 years of Carr's tenure.

I'm not sure if that's fair, and to be honest, it probably isn't. Running a big time football program is a thankless job that invites criticism from fans, alumni, students, donors, school administration, damn near everyone. There isn't a job that is more second guessed than that of a top 25 college football coach.

But ask any Michigan fan about Carr, 99% of them will feel the same way I do, that Michigan consistently underachieved. That the time has come for an infusion of new blood in the program, and it may be for the best that the next coach is NOT from the Schembechler lineage. Even with that feeling that a new philosophy is desperately needed at U of M, there's a little voice in the back of my head that keeps saying, "Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it."

That's "Above the Fold" for Tuesday, 11-13-07!


  1. I emailed the MGoBlog post to some people and a friend who doesn't follow Michigan very closely said his feeling was that Carr has been a disappointment.

    I disagreed and said he was a very good coach who could have been an exceptional coach if he hired great assistants. His record speaks for itself, although so do losses to teams like Appalachian State and near losses to teams like Ball State last season.

    The offensive part of the game is the part of the game Carr has struggled the most with. Fred Jackson and Mike Debord are probably perfect bookends to his career when it comes to his approach to offense.

    If Carr does retire following this season (it's been expected since January) he's left the program in remarkably good shape. There is some very solid talent left for the next coach, but Carr hasn't done well enough where an in-house candidate would get serious consideration - which happened when Lou Holtz left Notre Dame.

    It is exactly the right time for Carr to move on. If he does what has been widely expected it will serve the University of Michigan very well and it will solidify his solid standing amongst most Michigan fans.

  2. Get the hell out Lloyd!! I won't miss you. 1-5 against Tressel and 1-4 in their last 5 bowl games. In columbus, he would easily been fired by now. you crothety old bastard, its time this program got some fresh blood. I hope they do not hire from within.