It’s official. Lloyd Carr is no longer Michigan’s head coach. No real surprise here considering I said it from the beginning of the season. Carr had an interesting tenor at UM, to say the least. There was plenty of up’s and down’s.
As a life long Michigan fan (all 25 years of it), Carr is the coach of my generation. I remember Bo walking the sidelines but just barely and Gary Moller’s reign was over quicker than Gigli going to DVD. I love Carr and think is a great coach but there’s no question it was time for him to step down. He probably should have done it last year. The game has passed him by.
All Michigan fans will remember something different about Carr. Everyone will remember his first game against Ohio State when Tshimanga Biakabutuka ran for 313 yards. They’ll remember him getting the Gatorade bath as the final seconds ran of the clock in the Rose Bowl after the 1997 season which gave them the national championship. They remember his 5-1 record against John Copper and his 1-6record against Jim Tressel.
What I’ll remember is his priceless halftime interviews with sideline reporters. I can’t think of a worse task for a sideline reporter (and there are tons of them) than having to interview Carr at halftime when his team losing. My favorite came at halftime of the 2003 OSU-UM game. ABC’s Todd Harris had the task of asking Carr why he didn’t try to move the ball down field with two timeouts. Here’s what happened.
Harris: “Well coach I know you get second guessed all week long, how come you did go with anything when you have two timeouts left in the half?
Carr: “Why would you ask a dumb question like that?”
Harris: “Well, I’m just curious with 44 seconds left with a chance to make a move down the field and possibly get a field goal.”
Carr: [stares for a second then walks away, appearing to smile and shake his head, disappointed in the young man or disgusted or both]
Harris: “All right Keith [Jackson], back to you. I guess coach didn’t want to answer that.”
In the Rose Bowl that year, Harris again had to interview Carr at halftime. After Harris’s first question, Carr said something like “It’s nice to see you again,” with a sly smile on his face. Come on. That’s good stuff.
Now the University of Michigan has to replace the man who has been in charge for 13 years. If Carr would have retired last year, Michigan could have gone after, and probably got, Mark Dantonio. The former Cincinnati coach and current Michigan State coach. He would have been perfect. I don’t think he is going to leave MSU after one season though, especially not after the way he trashed Michigan after the game this year. Dantonio was a former assistant and current good friend of Tressel. That could have brought a major spark back to the OSU-UM game. You know Dantonio would have had extra motivation to beat his mentor. Sounds a lot like Bo and Woody doesn’t?
Alas, it won’t happen. That means Les Miles will be the top choice to come in. Miles is a Michigan Man, having played and coached there and his wife is from Michigan too. He even has a clause in his LSU contract saying if he leaves for Michigan he owes the school $1.25 million. It’s the lonely school listed. Miles would be a great coach and it makes sense for him to come here, but I don’t see it happening. He won’t want even think about it after the season and Michigan can’t wait that long for a coach.
Other names have been Kirk Ferentz, Bobby Petrino and Jon Gruden. Of those, Petrino would be my choice. He was great at the college game, not so much at the NFL. He would bring a new philosophy to the Michigan football family. A philosophy that isn’t so predictable.
That’s what Michigan needs. They need someone outside of the Michigan family. (At least Ron English is no longer being mentioned) Someone who has new ideas. The college football world is changing and Michigan needs to keep up. They’ll always be good since they are Michigan and people will want to play there, but they need to be great again. They need to embrace the spread. Possibly get an athletic quarterback. If that’s what has been beating you, don’t you think you should at least look into it. What’s that saying, if you can’t beat them, join them. Maybe Michigan should do something like that instead of having John Navarre reincarnated year after year.
The last time Michigan went “outside the family” they brought in this guy name Glenn Schemblecher, or Bo. That worked out pretty well. Another UC coach, Brian Kelly, is a possibility. A young, energetic guy is the way to go. It work with Woody. It worked with Bo. It worked with Tressel. Michigan needs it to work for them.
I’m going to miss Carr. (Not for his inability to beat Ohio State, that’s the only reason I’m not sad to see him go) He may be remember as the guy who couldn’t beat Tressel but hopefully he’ll be remember for a lot more than that. Hopefully he’ll be remember for his national title, his five Big Ten titles and his 121 wins. And, of course, his awesome halftime interviews.