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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thank you, Lloyd Carr

If Lloyd Carr's press conference yesterday was any indication, there might never be another college football coach like him. And the game will be worse because of it.

What Michigan supporters saw during his retirement announcement was a coach who truly embodied Bo Schembechler's mantra of "The Team. The Team. The Team." What jaded sports fans witnessed was a man who still put principle above a paycheck. What the sport lost was a teacher who realized the "big game" was simply a way to instill larger lessons regarding the big picture.

Unfortunately, we live in an era, especially when it comes to athletic competition, where many of us claim to care about the above but deep down - and usually less so - all that really matters is the scoreboard, baby. And to many in the Michigan family, Carr had fallen short in that column of late. So while they profess their admiration for the man, deep down - and usually less so - they were happy to see the coach step aside.

Never mind that Carr never had a losing season in 13 years at the helm. Forget that the school never once had the hint of a scandal during his tenure. Who cares that keeping any team among the nation's elite year in and year out is a much tougher assignment than its ever been (see: Nebraska, Notre Dame and Miami). It simply wasn't enough for some.

And I'm not naive, blind or an apologist. Yes, the recent bowl losses and stumbles against Ohio State stung. But college football, like life, is a game of ups and downs. To wax less poetically than Carr at his press conference yesterday: Shit happens. There is an ebb and flow to everything...except the unwieldy expectations of Michigan fans.

Thus, U-M begins its search for a new coach. Forget interest or availability, I just hope the person we're looking for exists. You know, someone able to contend for a national title every year, win each bowl game and never lose to Ohio State. If not, watch out. We Michigan fans are like some long-married guy going through a perpetual mid-life crisis: the grass is always greener, the coach of "that team" is always sexier.

But to some, the coaching situation is already looking up because whoever it is, it won't be Carr. Which really is a shame. Because a special part of a Michigan just retired yesterday. Yet, sadly, too many peopled failed to realize just how good we had it.

Thank you, Coach Carr, for everything you did. Both on and off the field.


Mark said...

Thanks Lloyd. You will be missed. I am a little scared about the future though. Hoping Michigan doesnt turn into a Notre Dame or Nebraska. The next coach will have huge shoes to fill. Hope the focus continues to be on a Big Ten title and Rose Bowl birth and most importantly "The Team, The Team, The Team"

Steve Traugh said...

I think a lot of Michigan fans are being very naive about the new coaching situation. Odds are, we have a couple miserable seasons ahead of us, at best. Worst case is we end up like ND, Nebraska, or Miami. I really don't want that to happen.

Dezzi said...

Lloyd is a classy gentleman and I hope that with his role in the athletic department, he is able to instill, at least a little, on his successor.

I can't remember exactly which game this year, when Henne was hurt (am too lazy to look up) and at the half, the sideline reporter came over to him and asked, "Lloyd, do you know what the injury to Chad Henne is?"... Lloyd got that sly grin and replied, "Yes." .... that made me laugh.

Every program has their hard times, and for Michigan to not pull a Nebraska or Notre Dame is definitely something Lloyd can look back on and be proud of.

Thanks for the years.... thanks for 1997... thanks for the Big Ten championships... you will be missed.

Maize said...

Excellent post Yost.

There are times you don't realize what you have until you no longer have it. For all that drove us crazy about him, we will end up missing him because he made us passionate for Michigan football.

It will be a miracle if Michigan can find someone that remotely resembles Lloyd to fill that honored post as the head coach of University of Michigan.


Taaha Haq said...

I have not been so depressed since we lost Bo last year. A loss to OSU sucks, but losing our coach, regardless of when whether he wanted to leave or not, really feels terrible. He truly was an exceptional coach. I could never stand the sub par Michigan fan that asked for his head each time we lost. Its hard to win consistently each year and I would much rather be a team that may contend for the championship each year, rather than win it for 1 year and suck for the next 10 years.

What a great coach. I'll miss him lot.

Katie said...

Thank you Lloyd for loving the student athlete, for understanding just what this game is about. There is no replacing you and I do hope that you stay around to help instill and build some of that love for the young men playing this game to the next coach we get.

TitleIX said...

Coaching, while all consuming, is only a FRACTION of what Lloyd Carr does for the community here in Ann Arbor.

The amount of publicized and UNpublicized charity work he does is extraordinary.

The amount of money he has raised to fight cancer, the support he has provided to the construction of the new Children and Women's Hospital is unparalleled.
Truly above and beyond.

He also does the seemingly little, yet amazingly important things, like writing letters of recommendation for the volunteer undergraduates who work for the athletic department....
imagine that in your portfolio!

I just met a 22 year old woman who has such a letter from Lloyd.

Lloyd is old school. Storybook.
The game is not.

This is a watershed moment for the Michigan program folks.
Buckle up.

Mikoyan said...

Speaking as a graduate of a school which takes the $450K to be a patsy (but still a fan of the team that pays that out), it is tough to win all the time. With the reduction of scholarships and money split amongst the conference it's going to get even tougher. Granted, when a team doesn't win the games it should win, it's very frustrating.

I will admit that I wanted to see Lloyd's head on a platter after the first two losses but he managed to right the ship and put together a nice string of wins. That takes something special. Especially since the thing that usually happens after the tailspin is the flat stall and then subsequent crash. (This is evidenced as several years of watching the Lions)

Anyways, it's nice to see a person of his stature and position that didn't lose perspective on things. That's tough in this day and age and the fact that he decided to hang up his spurs attests to that.

I hope that the next coach will be as special but I suspect he's going to be more of a rented goon like Saban. Waiting in the wings for the next big opportunity.

Corey said...

Thanks Lloyd for everything you've done for the student atheletes, the football program, and the University.

Now you'll have time to join Yost and Benny here at this site ... I look forward to reading your posts!


Crock said...

Great Post!

I feel bad for what Coach Carr must've gone through this season. I never bought a "Fire Carr" shirt - but I certainly felt that way in September. Now- I can admit how wrong I was.
Carr is a good, solid man. He should not have been treated like he was by so many.

As for getting a new coach - it's scary as all get out to me. I keep thinking of Notre Dame and Michigan State with all there "rebuilding" seasons and coaches comings and goings.

I don't expect the next few years to be too much fun. What coach would want to come to Michigan knowing that if they lose 2 games a season - they'll be written off?

I'm sure a lot of people will be thinking, you really don't know what you've got till it's gone.

--Chris said...

Lloyd will be missed for sure. A class act through and through, but even he admitted that he no longer had certain attributes that it takes to keep the program to the next level.

That said - Michigan needs to have a big hire, whether it be Les Miles or not - they MUST get a nationally respected coach to sustain the tradition and integrity of Michigan Football. Michigan is not a stepping stone - it is the pinnicle of a coaches career and the position should be filled as such.

On a side note, UM needs a big name coach that can help sell those new luxury boxes. Hell, look at MSU - they hired a coach that they thought was a "big name" and had school ties, but yet did they sell out a single game other than the UM game? I think not. Wins and losses are one thing - but the millions of dollars generated through ticket sales cetainly doesn't hurt.

lane said...

yup - last of his breed, in as much of those whom may be brought in.

mine is an opinion of a buckeye - Lloyd IS one hell of a coach & human being....undeniably!

UM's pastures may be green around the corner, but they won't be greener than they just were.

(JoePa could learn a thing or two from Lloyd)

hitlerwasabuckeye said...

Very well put. 1997 was almost to good to us. We gained 3/4 NC title trophies, only letting one go to Nebraska. We had the coach of the year and the only defensive heisman winner ever. I think that coming all at once made the expectations on Lloyd sky-rocket and when we didnt see it happen again, we as fans began to feel let down but nonetheless, thank you for 1997, it was an incredible season that I hope we can soon relive. GO BLUE!

Yost said...


You are so, so right.

Breaston154LIFE said...

Well to repeat what everyone else has been saying, Lloyd Carr will be missed. I always liked him, I thought he was a great coach.

I remember after the 2005 season all the fire lloyd shirts and websites came firing through. I always defended him through my blog, face to face while talking debating, and I will still defend him. I knew he was going to leave after the OSU game, everyone knew.

To those people who detested
Lloyd Carr, name me ONE coach out there who will be the class act he is.

I am looking forward to the off-season. I'm looking forward to see who the next Michigan coach will be. To the Lloyd haters, if this new coach doesn't repeat success, remember you wanted him gone. Don't complain either if Michigan goes through a couple of rough seasons, you got your wish.

Jessica said...

I'm just glad Lloyd still has a place at Michigan, just like Bo did after he retired. To lose him completely would have been a huge blow.

Thank you for all your class, your integrity, and your sheer love of the game and the university. I only hope your successor will share these qualities.

Korematsu said...

Yost, I agree. Lloyd was a great guy, and the world really needs people like him. But from what I read, this is what you're saying (correct me if I'm wrong): "Lloyd is classy, noble, genuine, respectable. Because he has such qualities, he was a great guy, and a good football coach. Because he was a good football coach, Michigan fans are stupid for calling for his resignation when times were low at U of M football."

Here's my problem with all of this. You're conflating the idea of someone being a classy person as compensating for lack of performance. Let's not forget how much money U of M paid Lloyd. Do businesses keep people around because they are "good people?" No. Can I walk into a job and not meet my job expectations, but keep my job because I'm a nice person? No. Businesses look for someone who is BOTH a good person and who can perform. The fact that someone is an admirable person, in the business world, doesn't make up for their lack of performance in their job expectations.

You want to know why the Big Ten football and it's fans will never be as good as SEC football and their fans? Because Big Ten fans don't understand this. They don't understand the actual money that the school is paying these people. They hang their hat on the idea that someone's character makes up for performance. And when the performance is there, we say "oh, he's a great coach." But when the performance isn't there, we don't say "hey, how much is this guy making again." And don't give me that crap about college coaches getting paid more than him. Every college coach, if they are paid six figures, should be held to the "perform or else standard." Pay a Michigan coach half a million for not beating Ohio State? Man, I need an analagous job like that.

MICHIGAN IS KNOWN FOR COLLEGE FOOTBALL! I say, get the best coach we can get, but also try to get someone that's respectable. If that new coach doesn't perform, then he needs to go. If we pay Les $4.5 Million to get him to Ann Arbor, and there's no championship in 3 years, he needs to go. Basically, what I hear you saying is "forget about the money we pay him, he's a nice guy." Michigan stands for employing "nice guys" but U of M also stands for football excellence. To say that U of M fans are fickle in this sense is being way to simplistic and naive. Or maybe you're just caught up in the moment of Lloyd's retirement.

Thanks Lloyd. You've done Michgian well. But it is time to move on. But don't feel too bad for him either, his pockets are well lined.

Korematsu said...

Also, let's not forget that Lloyd didn't really "right the ship' as some say after App State and Oregon. If we had faced another non-Big Ten, spread offense we would've been dominated. Michigan fans need to find a way NOT to lose their memories so damn frequently.

This problem has been going on for a while. Remember the MSU game in '04 (the first half)? Remember Troy Smith? Vince Young? Brad Banks? ALL those September road losses? Comeon Michigan fans! Get off of our soap boxes, and DEMAND excellence from our schools! Or else, be prepared to ride the Michigan name from the 1980s-90s until we get left behind in the dust.

TitleIX said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TitleIX said...

your two concepts are NOT mutually exclusive.

there are many examples of business leaders who have integrity, while simultaneously exhibiting innovation, and breeding success.
so don't bring that SEC comparison crap around here, please please please. I don't want to be like an SEC school (AMEN)

Taaha Haq said...


Yeah he was a great person but youre getting something wrong. He was ALSO a great coach. He got success real early which was his major 'problem'.

As an alum, i find it offensive taht you think that UM is known only for its football. That on its own would bring us to the level of an SEC team. The university is great way BEYOND the big house. Ask your lawyers, doctors, i bankers, consultants etc... most of them wil l be UM grads.

Like i said before, i would much rather win the Big 10 and contend for the championship each year, than be a Nebraska, ND or even LSU (as it will be in a couple of yrs regardless if LM stays or not).

Yost said...


I simply disagree with you. You seem to think Lloyd was a failure or "lacked success" only when measured against the impossible. He retires as the 7th winningest coach in the COUNTRY. He NEVER had a losing season. He won 5 Big Ten Titles in 13 years. He was 3 points away from playing for his second national title last year, a game that came less than 24 hours after the death of his best friend and mentor.

Lloyd Carr is a success in every *realistic* measurable way, on and off the field. As I said in my post, do the recent losses sting? Sure. But life in all facets is never a straight trajectory.

Oh, and regarding the money...

While Lloyd is paid an incredible amount when compared to the average working stiff out there cheering the team on, when compared to the salaries of the top coaches at the top football programs, he is probably the biggest bargain in the country.

Sabas G. said...

It is unfair to Lloyd to praise him by counterexample, but given Yost's review of Carr's unassailable record (the only thing I can think to add is to mention Carr's reverence and respect for the game itself) perhaps a comparison will help explain what a profound loss his leaving could represent. Carr is not an Urban Meyer, who regards his coaching role as a personal vehicle. Carr is not Jim Tressel, who runs a program full of thugs and miscreants (remember when that buckeye choked the Wisconsin quarterback - Jim Sorgi, maybe?).
People who understand what Michigan represents realize a winning program that doesn't exhibit the integrity and class of Carr's is worthless to this school.

IamCris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tabithasaysgoblue said...

The end of an era...it is always hard to make change and I just hope that the next coach does have the same level of integrity that Lloyd Carr had in every facet of his "job". He will be missed and always respected!

IamCris said...

During the press conference there was something that really stood out to me and brought clarafication to my understanding of the severity of this. There was a question asked of Coach Carr to the effect of "So what do you do now"(where do you go from here)?

Coach Carr replied "hopefully something meaningful". Coach Carr is selfless.

This man is greatness, this man is a champion. Don't forget the conditions in which Lloyd Carr accepted the head coaching job.

His beneficiary should be so lucky to follow a great man.

MGoBlue93 said...

Read the other day regarding some of the circumstances of Carr getting the job involved Joe Paterno calling Michigan's AD and recommending Carr's interim label be removed and offered the head position.

hmmm... I wonder how State Penn feels about that recommendation now.

Korematsu said...

I understand why people feel the way they do about Lloyd. He was a GREAT person. And a GREAT coach. And for the first 5 or 6 years, I would've given him that. But you have to admit that he fell off of the edge the last few years. I'm not saying that this guy sucked. I'm not saying that at all. All I'm saying is that we have to get down to the roots of what U of M football is all about.

I too am a Michigan alum ('05). I agree, that Michigan is famous for many, many other things other than football. But I am originally from the South, and I'm for those that live outside of the midwest, the University of Michigan is PRIMARILY known for football. Let me ask the Midwesterners this--what do you first think of when you hear "University of North Carolina Tarheels?" College basketball or a fine public academic institution? What about the University of Florida? Reputable law school or great football team? What about the University of Texas? Vince Young and co or a school on the same academic level as Michigan?

My point is simply this. We as fans and alumni should give Lloyd the praise he deserves. He should NOT be remembered just for the 2007 season. He did a lot for the University of Michigan, and he advanced our reputation as a program (Rose Bowls in '03, '04, and '06 are not bad at all in my eyes). I'm just frustrated with the mentallity that everyone is taking, that "now that Lloyd is gone, Michigan is at a loss." Screw that. Lloyd was a great guy. But do you want to see a coach that beats Ohio State? Do you want to see a coach that gains the respect of the entire college football community? Let's not forget, we are looking hiring a COLLEGE FOOTBALL COACH. You may think that Michigan has a great reputation around the country, but that is simply a function of the past success that Michigan is riding off of. Go to any other part of the country and ask them about Michigan and Ohio State. And you'll see who garners more college football respect as of now. Before you start dissing Ohio State, remember this. Since 2005, Ohio State has only lost the following games: Texas (eventual national championship winner), Penn State (finished #3 the year that they lost), Florida (eventual national championship winner), and Illinois. Can Michigan reach that level? More importantly, should we expect this from our program? Or should we just be content with the way things are?

We need to bring emotion to the job at U of M. And we need to move beyond Lloyd, who has done good things, and say that we want even better things. I don't see how the Big House can pack so many people week in and week out, but still have fans that are SO emotionless about wanted to see their school reach greatness and command the respect of the rest of the country. I mean, we are MICHIGAN FOOTBALL!!!!!!

whetstonebuck said...

"Carr is not Jim Tressel, who runs a program full of thugs and miscreants (remember when that buckeye choked the Wisconsin quarterback - Jim Sorgi, maybe?)."

Tearing someone else down doesn't raise your stock. Not very Carr-like of you.

Korematsu said...

And I don't want to be an SEC school either. But I sure as hell DO want our football program to be as respectable as an SEC football program. How can you possibly be a Michigan football fan and NOT want this? I want our fans to be as crazy and dedicated as SEC fans? Why isn't it possible to have both? Why can't we have a fine academic institution and still have fans that are passionate and that want to win? Michigan is in dire need of someone who will inject some passion into Michigan fans. Don't get me wrong, a good number of Michigan fans are passionate. But SO many are not. If you don't believe me about the emotion in the Big House, man, take a trip to most other "traditional" college football powerhouse stadiums, and you will see emotion. On several, several occasions, I've brought non-Michigan friends into the Big House. They expect the Michigan name to embody tradition and passion, but they are left with the impression that Michigan fans are way too calm and not emotional and passionate about their team and the game at all.

You don't want to be an SEC school? Neither do I. Because we're Michigan, a fine academic school. But I do want to our football program to command respect in the college football world. We deserve that. We, as Michigan fans and alumni need to get off of this kick, feeling that Michigan is a special place that is the end all be all of respect. If we want respect, we have to earn it. We shouldn't just expect respect just because we're Michigan. Bo earned his respect by beating Ohio State in the big games. Any other measure of success, purely in football (and not in life) that is not measured by performance is simply just excuses. We can still bring in respectable players that can be coached to win big games. I'm not saying that we should be fickle fans. ALWAYS stick by your team. NEVER leave a game early. ALWAYS keep the faith. But simultaneously, ALWAYS expect greatness and ALWAYS be disappointed when we are not the best of the best. That is what Michigan football should be all about.

Breaston154LIFE said...

Kore, i think the worry is, is that Michigan wont find a coach who will be able to beat Ohio State, who will be able to keep Michigan as the winngest program in college football history, and to win national championships.

I worry about this...look at Charlie Weis after he lost all of his playmakers, his ship sunk completely to the bottom of the deepest ocean (right in front of Duke mind you).

When Michigan gets the new coach, he will be without all of his playmakers and probably Manningham too.

But, I think we will be fine.

Ha I kind of got way off topic. O well

CaliGirl said...

I am a little late on this comment, due to travel...however, this was well put and my sentiments exactly.

I have never watched Blue football without Carr...it still feels odd to even think about him not on the sidelines.

Nervously awaiting the new coach and season! In the interim....