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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Various things.

I have not seen it covered in print anywhere but I have heard Bill Cowher's name mentioned again n a few circles....I know he was rumored at one point right after he retired from the Steelers .....and now they are back.....any thoughts? any ties to U of M in any way?
Cowher's name gets thrown around by any school looking for a new coach these days, but AFAIK there has never been any official or unofficial but insider-sanctioned indication that Cowher was a serious candidate. It seems unlikely Cowher's interested in returning to coaching at all; he now lives in North Carolina but turned down NC State, his alma mater, last offseason.


I agree that this year sucked, and a large part of the blame has to go to the coaching staff, for reasons that you've documented and that are painfully reiterated on your message boards every day. Perhaps this year would have gone better if this staff was coaching the team. However, I don't think you can blame Coach Carr for hanging on too long. When should he have retired? Maybe after the 2005 season? I
suppose. But we have to remember how last season went. There may have been mutterings about Debord's playcalling and that sort of thing over the course of the 11-0 start, but only the most horribly pessimistic of Michigan fans were calling for Lloyd's head amid the Yakety Saxing of Notre Dame, the gutty win over that otherwise-perfect Wisconsin team, and the AMFB assassination of Morelli. 2006 was a great season.

The OSU game was a classic, a well-coached, evenly-played game that might have gone differently had a safety stepped up to make a tackle, or had a questionable late hit not been called, or had any number of things happened. Not that OSU didn't deserve to win, but still, you can't have expected Lloyd to retire after that.

The Rose Bowl might have been a sign of a washed-up coaching staff, but it was just one game, and a coach who loses his confidence and drive after one bad game is one who never gets a job at Michigan in the first place. Plus, retiring in January could have seriously hurt last year's recruiting class, and as rough as this year was, what
would have happened had Mallett and Warren decommitted and Carlos Brown transferred? Plus, he was returning perhaps the best back in Michigan history, a fourth-year starter at quarterback with a rocket arm and robot nerves, a severely badass first round pick at left tackle, and at least two big-time receivers, and going into what promised to be down years for ND and OSU. You projected and 11-1 season. You can't blame Lloyd for giving it one more go.

Should he have retired right after Appalachian State or Oregon? I say no. You say Mike and Chad and Jake deserved better than this, and I think Lloyd had their best interests at heart when he decided to stick out the season. Stability in the coaching staff was probably still the best chance they had to salvage a Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl win, considering that anarchy seemed to be breaking out in the locker
room, and landing a top out-of-the-program coach in mid-September would be very, very difficult. Lloyd's resignation would have led to Debord or English as interim head coach, which would likely not have resulted in any more wins this year, and would mean that the interim coach would be more likely to be retained. I know for a fact that you don't want Mike Debord or Ron English to be the next Michigan head coach because I've seen a picture of your trapper keeper.

That was way longer than I meant it to be. Part of it is me venting after watching the presser; part of it is me procrastinating work. So take it for what you will. But I would like to know when you think Lloyd should have resigned. I think that he knows exactly when to quit, and that this is the perfect time. Yeah, he was stubborn and arrogant and made questionable hires and retentions and all that, but I believe that knowing when to go, and doing it with dignity and class, should preserve his legacy as a guy who loved Michigan and put the best interest of the program before his own arrogance and stubbornness as well as he could.

Geaux Blue.

John Eagal
John makes a convincing case here that I won't disagree with entirely. I do think leaving at the right time is leaving before you have a year like this one; Carr wanted to leave after last year and probably should have.

There's plenty of evidence Carr lost his fastball after the OSU game last year. Michigan was beset by an unprecedented rash of discipline issues from Chris Richards to Johnny Sears to Eugene Germany to Carson Butler to Mario Manningham. The special teams, other than Zoltan (praise be his name) and Kicking Competency Lopata, were atrocious. The offensive line was throughly whipped at key positions and forced to re-insert a clearly out of shape Alex Mitchell late in the year with predictable results. Michigan was completely unprepared to take on a I-AA foe in the first game of the year. All of these things point to a team that suddenly went from pretty well coached to very poorly coached, probably because Carr didn't have the energy for the job anymore.

I know he said he wasn't tired in the press conference, but he also said...
"...I still have a great passion for the game and the players and the competition. But I also know that there are some things that I don't have anymore. So, it's time. That's all I can say to you."
...which is basically "I'm tired and can no longer execute all the things I need to if I am to keep this job." This is a remarkably self-aware thing to think and perhaps Michigan's saving grace in a situation that could have gotten (more) depressing if extended indefinitely. See also: Penn State, Florida State. Carr stayed on a year too long, IMO; John's right in thinking this would have been really hard to perceive in anything other than hindsight.
Hi Brian,

I was wondering if you (or gsimmons et. al.) might expound on the philosophy of a “running” quarterback in college versus preparing for the professional game.

I had the opportunity to watch the WVU – Cincinnati and Texas Tech – Oklahoma games on Saturday evening. Obviously, Pat White, Ben Mauk and the TT quarterback (name escapes me) are very active within their offensive schemes. Yet, this does not seem to be something that’s valued at the professional level. Michael Vick had limited success. So, if one the purposes of college football is too groom quarterbacks for the pros and the professional teams do not embrace that offensive philosophy, why implement it? As a high school quarterback, whose ultimate goal is the NFL, I’d be leery of a scheme that would not prepare me for that level.

Am I totally confused or is there some merit to my thought process?
The thing with Michael Vick (and, to some extent, Vince Young) is that neither of them would be in the NFL if they didn't have the athleticism they do. A certain subset of quarterbacks are only NFL prospects because of their combination of arm and legs; it's hard to envision a system that would have prepared Vince Young or Michael Vick better given their skillsets. They have to be on the field, and the best way to keep them on the field is to start them off with simple things they can do and expand those things as their skills improve. You could clearly see this trajectory with Young, who went from a glorified running back to an actual quarterback over the course of his time at Texas. (Michael Vick's two-year supernova was too brief to detect any real development.)

So no, I don't think guys like Vick or Young or this year's uber-recruit Terrelle Pryor look at an offensive system predicated on taking advantage of their mobility as a negative. If forced into Michigan's offense they would likely fail, and benched guys don't often make the NFL.

There is a theory out there that seems plausible, though: as more and more teams move to the spread option, appealing places for the Peyton Mannings and Tom Bradys narrow, increasing the chances Michigan has at a smooth progression of highly-touted pocket passers. Personally, I would rather Michigan recruit whoever wants to come and fit the offense to their skills rather than adhere solely to one archetype, and Miles appears to agree.

I thought I would drop you a note to tell you a short story about Lloyd Carr, given that he is retiring today and given that you are the guy that broke that story. I am a 36 year old attorney in Chicago. I didn't go to the UofM for college or law school. My Dad, however, grew up in Dexter, Michigan (just outside Ann Arbor) and attended Michigan's law school between 1964 and 1967. He developed a life-long love for Michigan football. In 1979, when I was 8, he took me to my first game, a 49-0 shellacking of Northwestern. I was hooked. For the next 28 years there has been no sports allegiance (or religious one for that matter) that I have valued more than the Big Blue. In the intervening years, my Dad and I watched some astonishing games in Ann Arbor -- the two that stick out most were our near upset of Miami in 1988 and the comeback I never believed possible against Michigan State in 2005. Tim B's ripping OSU for over 300 yards was also obviously a great moment.

In January 2006, my father was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. This was a crushing moment in the life of my father and my family. In the days and weeks that followed, we reeled. Several weeks after his diagnosis, I drafted a lengthy letter to Lloyd Carr explaining who my Dad was and what he was going through. In an utter shot in the dark, I asked if he wouldn't mind placing a cold call to my Dad to give him a pep talk and tell him to hang in there. Several weeks later, Lloyd Carr left a message on my folks' machine at their home, offering his words for encouragement. In a bit of irony, my Mom (not understanding the significance of the message) DELETED it before my Dad could hear it. But still, I was pretty darn impressed that Lloyd had responded to that letter out of the blue and placed a call to a man he didn't even know.

Here is where, in my mind, an already great story gets better. Lloyd called back. About a week later, he made a second attempt to reach my Dad, this time calling from his car phone. He reached my sister instead and left a message. My Dad was touched to the core by Lloyd's overtures. I, for one, was pretty surprised that a person with Lloyd's schedule wouldn't consider one attempt to reach out sufficient. It speaks volumes.

You can say a lot of things about Lloyd Carr. But can you say more than that he is the type of person who will pick up the phone and call someone he doesn't even know in order to help them along? I don't think so. Aside from the national championship, the top recruiting classes, the top 10 winning percentage, the great record against the Top 10 -- at core, Lloyd Carr is a good human being who cares about others, even others he does not know. As Lloyd announces his retirement today, and for days hereafter, I will never, ever forget what he did for my Dad. If you want to share this story with others, feel free. If not, read it knowing that it's additional evidence for how lucky we were to have Lloyd Carr as part of the Michigan pantheon.

Comment unnecessary.