Tuesday, November 20, 2007

WTI: The End of an Era

This edition of WTI is solely about Lloyd Carr, his retirement, his legacy, and the future of the program. Tomorrow we'll look into the MMB's season with some more football content.

Geoff: Everyone's known for the last week, but Lloyd Carr made it official today. He's stepping down from his spot as our head coach.
Craig: It is the end of a 13 year era which, depending on whom you talk to, was a success, a failure, or a maddening enigma.
Geoff: By turns, I'd say it's been all three.
Geoff: This is a huge turning point in the program's history. Not since Bo signed on for the 1969 season has the program had to look for its next scion.
Craig: In many ways, it's the 2008 election of Michigan football, no clear successor, lots of speculation, and a very long run up to the actual decision
Geoff: Lloyd Carr has done tremendous things for this football team.
Craig: And for the University.
Geoff: I'll never, ever forget the magical run in 1997. I was still a junior in high school then, but I dragged my best friend and his flu-like symptoms to the Notre Dame game. I made it to a few more that year too, and I was there for the 1997 Michigan-Ohio State epic and the '98 Rose Bowl.
Craig: As I stated in my Coach Carr encomium, he is my coach, and I don't know that I have ever wavered from that. You just don't quit on someone because they aren't winning up to the exceptionally lofty standards one has set in their head. Yes, we were maddened at turns by some of the losses, but we overlook some of the comebacks.
Jeremy: I'd gone to a few games before Lloyd, but he was the face of the program for my formative years.
Geoff: The first game I remember attending was in '89, so I have some memories of Bo, and more of Moeller, but the Carr era is the one I belong to.
Craig: The Moeller era, for me, is a nebulous space where I have memories of it, but they are all specifically vague.
Jeremy: On a micro scale, sure you can pick apart his losses and maddening tendencies, but on a macro scale, by which he'll later be analyzed, he improved the program's winning percentage. By any standard Michigan uses, he deserves his own building on the Athletic Campus. It's as simple as that.
Geoff: You realize that 4 of the top 6 Big Ten coaches all-time were Michigan men? Schembechler, Yost, Crisler, and Carr?
Craig: And, we must always remember this...Lloyd Carr did this in the first generation of head coaches in the scholarship limited era, competing after so many of Bo's advantages had been whittled away – Deregulation of college football on television leading to so much more national exposure, the internet, recruiting services, and 24/7 talk radio have all served to level the playing field.
Craig: But let us please be clear that no one forced Lloyd Carr out. Coach Carr saw an opportunity to leave, at a time when it would likely be best for the school and the program, and he is taking it because, I suspect, he'd like to have a life that is more than just football. Can we begrudge a man for wanting to enjoy his retirement?
Jeremy: Those stories are just as ridiculous as all the previous years of him being "on the hot seat" after three losses.
Geoff: He's always said he's not taking the Paterno way out, or even the Bowden one.
Craig: And there's nothing wrong with the Paterno or Bowden way, but merely, it is a choice.
Craig: Can we also be clear that Michigan is not like a lot of other schools in that our hot seat is not the same as other places? Michigan is not an SEC or Big XII South school in that regard. Michigan's values are first and foremost a winning program with integrity. And the Fab Five era makes us exceptionally wary of anything that looks even a little sketchy.
Geoff: Lloyd's program has never had the faintest whiff of scandal about it. Players may have showed up on the police blotter (Perfect Offseason Forever), but the program has always stayed clean.
Jeremy: I've always trusted Lloyd to handle disciplinary situations properly, and IIRC, he's always done the right thing. Whether it be dismissing someone from the team or letting the system take its course
Craig: And, honestly, we've all read Crime Notes, is Michigan's football program, statistically, any worse in some of these regards than the university population at large?
Craig: And, by the way, the guys who have come back with the 60–60–6:00 program have been pretty much model citizens upon their return.
Geoff: Do enough steps, you learn your lesson.
Jeremy: They're probably better. I doubt anyone on the football team has triggered a smoke alarm with an overcooked pop tart, or assaulted a UHS employee with a picture frame.
Geoff: We've been talking about the kind of program Lloyd has built, but this new era is upon us. Right now, Michigan is a high-level program, on the outside of the elite. Over the last 13 years, we have a .750 winning percentage, and we know that will be the Mendoza line for anyone who comes in.
Craig: By the way, I need to put that in perspective. 8-4 is .667, 9-3 is .750 That ONE win is HUGE!
Geoff: You look around college football, and you see what can happen with a new hire for the better (Urban Meyer, Pete Carroll) or for the worse (Solich/Callahan, Weis).
Craig: Indeed. What every Michigan fan, whether they want to admit it, or can admit it, is they want to trade Cooper for Tressel. Now, I am not saying Lloyd Carr is our John Cooper. But John Cooper was not a bad coach. It's just that Jim Tressel has become the coach that Buckeye fans have wanted since Woody.
Craig: But do you know how rare, how truly rare, that kind of trading up is? Look at Florida, they had to take their Zookian lumps before landing Meyer.
Jeremy: We want that pendulum to swing back in our direction now.
Craig: USC hated Carroll when he was hired. There were torches and pitchforks in the Southlands.
Geoff: Cooper->Tressel is the gold standard for a program that wasn't in trouble going for the elite.
Craig: It's interesting. Everyone says "Don't go NFL if you want to avoid a Nebraska/Notre Dame issue", but what did USC do? At the same time, USC had fallen off; we forget that given what they have become once more.
Geoff: I have confidence we aren't going to hire a Charlie Weis. And, if we do, we won't hamstring ourselves with an onerous buyout like they did.
Craig: I agree. I have a lot of faith in Bill Martin's doing this and doing this right, because this is a business decision as much as anything. Bill Martin knows this is his legacy on the line. This and the renovation. He's going to do everything he can to get it just right.
Jeremy: He handled the Beilein hiring very well.
Geoff: I think we need to be prepared for an interesting ride that could last into the first week of January.
Craig: And he handled the Beilein hire in a way that gives me a lot of confidence in the idea of he's going to do it right. And he's going to start by saying as little as humanly possible to the media.
Geoff: Again, with the Beilein hiring, we waited until we had a clear shot at the guy we wanted.
Craig: Can we clarify something else? A Michigan Man does not necessitate someone who has ties to Michigan in the past. It is someone who embodies the values which Michigan Men (and Women) represent and holds the University and its interests dearest to his heart.
Geoff: It's a straightforward guy who's about the school, not himself. About the team, not just the guy with the headset. He has to see himself (or herself) as part of the tradition we have at Michigan and, like you said, goes about the task of winning with integrity.
Craig: So, just because we want a Michigan man does not mean that Michigan man has to be connected to Michigan. As I have been thinking about this, I want the best candidate for the job, not necessarily the popular one or the flashy one (particularly not the last one.) And that will be the hardest part. Callahan blew up every ounce of tradition at Nebraska and it became just another Big XII school. The new era will need to blend a reverence for tradition and heritage without being beholden to the old ways simply because it was what always done.
Geoff: Right. Abandoning the triple option was one thing, abandoning the idea of what the 'Huskers are is another.
Craig: Like destroying your massive walk-on program.
Jeremy: The title of Michigan Man is earned, not given exclusively.
Craig: So we can speculate all we want about whom, and toss names around, but in the end, it's like theorizing what you would do if you won the lottery, fun to speculate, but not likely going to matter much down the line.
Geoff: I think Michigan is going to look for long-term success. I think they're going to take a full, fair look at all the candidates out there. I think Lloyd will have input, but Bill Martin has reminded everyone that the buck stops with the AD. I think Ferentz is a ridiculous idea, but Brian Kelly will get a look. And I think Les Miles has a 2/3 chance of becoming our next head football coach.
Craig: Ron English gets an interview. I promise you this.
Geoff: Mike Debord gets a buyout.
Jeremy: I think we go through the motions and ultimately get Miles.
Geoff: The longer this drags on, the more likely it's Miles.
Craig: I think it's also important that we do not burn any bridges or make any enemies in this process.
Geoff: Martin will handle everything quietly.
Geoff: Let's get prepared for a flurry of media coverage without any real answers coming out.
Craig: So, final thoughts. Certainly thank you, Coach Carr, for everything. That's as simple as I can think to put it. And to the next guy, I hope you know what you're getting into. Because we don't mind if you don't mind, because we don't shine if you don't shine.
Geoff: Whatever happens, it's the end of an era. I'm worried about what could come next, but excited for the future. Thanks to our coach for 13 years of service and a national title.
Jeremy: 28 years of service.
Jeremy: I hope we miss Coach Carr, but not ever in a regretful way. May he continue to be an outstanding ambassador for the University and not keep too low of a profile.
Craig: And as Jam22 said, he needs to go out and spend some of that money. :)
Craig: Thank you, Happy Thanksgiving to all...and good night.

1 comment:

Chuck said...

I have to disagree about Brian Kelly. I was reading tonight's Snooze and Bill Martin was talking about doing background checks, finding out who has DUIs, who is a deadbeat dad, all the things that might make someone not Michigan Material. He's also been watching press conferences to see what coaches say under pressure. And Brian Kelly has those remarks during the CMU murder case that can (very easily) be taken as racist. Kind of the worst of both worlds right there.