Monday, November 26th, 2007...12:47 am
So Long Lloyd…Les Is More
Last Monday, University of Michigan Head Football Coach Lloyd Carr announced his retirement. The Detroit sportswriter and author Mitch Albom gives a poigent recap of the retirement speech. You can also watch it. During his press conference he recited a poem by Pakenham Beatty. I had never heard of the 19th Century Irish poet but I enjoyed the stanza
By your own soul learn to live.
If some men thwart you, take no heed.
If some men hate you, have no care.
Sing your song, dream your dream.
Hope your hope and pray your prayer.
Lloyd Carr has been the only head coach at the school since I’ve been a Michigan fan/student. He’s done a fabulous job representing Michigan. He has also managed to bring Michigan a national title in 1997 and five Big Ten Championships in his 13 years. Carr has recently struggled in big games, losing six of the last seven games to rival Ohio State and dropping four straight Bowl games. Unfortunately, that’s probably not enough winning to appease the UM faithful (or me) and it seems like a good time for him to step down.
The expectations for the Michigan football program are astronomical. Not only is the team expected to win, but they must do so in a classy, commendable fashion that would “make Bo proud”. Carr had the classy part covered. I remember attending special events on campus (Madeline Albright speak at the business school or Kissinger at the Hill Auditorium) and seeing Lloyd Carr and his wife in attendance. At the time it seemed like no big deal. In hindsight it was pretty cool that our football coach was also an active member of the Michigan academic community.
There is no doubt that Carr ran a clean program, fielded a championship caliber team each season, recruited exceptionally well and positively represented the University. The only thing that seemed to get in his way was that thing called winning (and even that concept is relative as Carr won more than 70% of the time). Carr wasn’t the kind of Coach who could steal a victory for his team. In my years of watching Michigan I’ve often been unimpressed with Carr’s play selection and game strategy. The idea that Michigan’s defense can’t play against a spread offense is more of a glaring coaching weakness than a personal matter. The season opening loss and biggest upset in college football history is inexcusable. Carr’s players always seemed a bit confused on the field. Defensive backs act like chickens with their heads cut off and besides a few notable exceptions (Marlin, Leon Hall, maybe Shazor and Jamar Adams) I’m pretty convinced that the ghost of Jeremy LeSueur is injected into each new and talented DB that comes to Ann Arbor. Besides Henson in 2000, every Michigan Quarterback seems to play restrained and robatic. The huge body, big farhead, and cropped buzz cut with a cannon arm seems more like the anti-Brady than a solution for our next national championship.
So I’m pumped for a new coach. A coach who can pull magic out of his headset and lead Michigan to multiple national titles. A coach who runs a pro style offense with enough flair to keep fans on the edge of their seat. A coach who leads ferocious, swarming defensives into battle each week and exposes the spread offense as a gimmicky shenanigan that belongs at Hawaii. A coach who lands every top recruit I fall in love with on the message boards (oh how I long for RoJo). Most of all, a coach who beats Ohio State, (Reginald Denny style) and puts those midwestern neanderthal mongoloids back into their little horse shoe.
Unfortunately, I think that perfect man can only be found coaching in South Park’s Imagination Land or in Dylan, Texas. The expectations are so exceedingly high in Ann Arbor that it seems like the only option is a National Championship or bust. Tressell’s success in Columbus only makes things more difficult. Michigan would need some combination of Pete Carroll, Urban Meyer, Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells. They should just figure out how to clone Bo Schembechler but I don’t even think Bo could live up to his own legend.
That being said, we NEED to get Les Miles. He is a “Michigan Man” through and through. (Even though that is weird phrase that seems to have taken on added meaning since Bo’s death I love it. It’s like saying The “U” without having to feel all ghetto about it.) He played for Bo in the 70′s and started his coaching career in Ann Arbor. Miles than followed Bill McCartney to Colorado and proved himself to be an exceptional recruiter. Miles returned to Ann Arbor to coach the offensive line from 1987-94. He went to coach at Oklahoma State where he would become the Head Coach in 2001 and lead the program to unprecedented success and a few big victories over rival Oklahoma. Miles replaced Nick Saban at LSU in 2005 and despite having to deal with the after effects of Hurricane Katrina he has had three very impressive seasons.
Miles is also the firey leader in Bo’s spitting image that Carr was not. At the start of this season he called out USC and the Pac 10 for being a weak conference. He has also showed incredible chutzpah in last second victories against Florida and Auburn. I guarantee that if Miles is named Coach he is taking direct assault on Ohio State when he is introduced just the way Tressell did in 2000.
I’m excited to see Miles come to Michigan and try to fufill all the lofty expectations and watch him take aim on Ohio State and the rest of the nation. Miles vs. Tressell can be the next Bo vs. Woody and everybody on both sides of the rivalry wants to see that happen. Hopefully, Miles comes to Ann Arbor and I don’t have to write another blog post about a coaching change for the next 20 years!
So to Lloyd: thanks for making Michigan what it is for me. Please keep on sharing cool poems and stay part of the Michigan community as you enter the next chapter of life.
Les: Welcome home. Let’s rip Ohio Jimbo and the rest of the Big Ten a new one! Can’t wait to ruin Columbus 354 days from now!