Wednesday, July 26, 2006
I don't know exactly when it happened, but college football fans have become as content as a gold digging millionaire's wife when a billionaire widower moves in next door. Bitching about one's team is almost as popular as singing the school fight song. Perpetual disconent is now the norm.
Nowhere is that more true today than Ann Arbor.
To hear Michigan fans on sports radio, read their rants on message boards and peruse most maize and blue blogs, the sky is falling in A2. Under Lloyd Carr, the "popular" belief goes, we are witnessing the "slow, steady decline" of the Michigan football program. Hell, to listen to all the naysayers, one would think last year's 7-5 season was the norm (nevermind that Michigan went to back-to-back Rose Bowls before that).
So let's take a look at Carr and see how he stacks up against Michigan's Big Three former head coaches -- Yost, Crisler and Schembechler.
Why are they the measuring stick? Between the three of them, one of them was head coach for roughly half of the 115 seasons of Michigan football before Lloyd took over the reigns in '95. They combined for 25 conference titles and 7 National Titles. Furthermore, their legacies live on today in Ann Arbor: Michigan's hockey arena is name after Yost, its basketball arena after Crisler while its football building carries the Schembechler name. Thus, these are ghosts, two dead and one living, which will always haunt the present Michigan coach.
So how does Lloyd compare next to coaches so good, buildings were named after them? Well...
Fielding H. Yost (one of my personal favorites as you might have guessed) was Michigan's head coach for 25 years in the first quarter of the 20th century. In that time, he had a winning percentage of .833, the best of any Michigan coach in the last 106 seasons. Pretty damn impressive. And in those 25 years at the helm, Yost won or shared 10 conference titles. Not too shabby, right?
Well, in his 11 seasons, Lloyd Carr has won or shared 5 Big 10 titles.
Yost's conference winning percentage was .778, Carr's is .773.
Fritz Crisler had an overall winning percentage of .805 and a .777 mark in the conference in his 10 seasons as the head coach. In those 10 years, he won or shared two conference crowns with one national title to his credit, same as Lloyd.
In its entire history, Michigan has an overall winning percentage of .744 and a conference mark of .727. Carr is at .750 overall and, as mentioned before, .773 in the Big 10.
Then there's Bo Schembechler who probably casts the longest shadow around the U-M campus. In his 21 seasons at the helm, Bo had an overall winning percentage of .796 and a best-in-the-history-of-Michigan .850 in the conference. He won or shared 13 Big 10 titles. Great stuff.
And while Lloyd's recent September struggles on the road are frustrating, Bo had a few glaring blemishes on his record. Taking nothing away from Schembechler, don't forget that from his first season in 1969 through the 1979 season - his first 11 years as head coach, same as Carr so far - Bo never won the last game of the season. Not once. Zip. Nada. Whether it was one of 5 Rose Bowl defeats, one Orange, one Gator and a couple heartbreakers to the Buckeyes (when only the Big 10 champ got a bowl bid those days), Michigan ended each of those years with a loss (and one tie in'73).
Finally, while Lloyd won it all in '97, Bo, unfortunately, never won a National Title. His best finish was #2 after an 11-1-1 campaign in 1985.
So while last season was terrible and unacceptable to all Michigan fans (I'm sure even Carr would say the same thing, as he basically did with the changes to his staff), taking a bigger look using history as our guide reveals that things aren't as bad as they might seem in many parts of cyberspace.
Posted by Yost at 2:43 AM