88 - The Michigan Daily - SportsTuesday - January 21, 2003
Lloyd Carr steers the Wolverines
as Michigan's man of mystery
By Joe Smith Daily Sports Editor
's no secret that Michigan coach Lloyd Carr
isn't a huge fan of divulging secrets about his
ersonal life. He likes it about as much as he
likes root canals. Not even the CIA can crack his
outer shell. It's been more than 20 years since he
first joined the Michigan coaching staff, and still
few know "the real Lloyd Carr."
Most people don't know that he thought about
studying journalism as a Missouri undergraduate.
They don't know that the former Northern
Michigan star quarterback tried out for the Green
Bay Packers for a roster spot behind Bart Starr.
They don't remember that Carr wasn't Michi-
gan's first choice to replace Gary Moeller as
head coach back in 1995 - and that legendary
Penn State coach Joe Paterno was the one that
helped change Michigan officials' minds.
They don't know that Carr's a voracious reader
who immerses himself into books the way his
300-pound lineman engulf a hot meal. Or that
Carr quotes leaders such as Winston Churchill
and Franklin Roosevelt in his pre-game speeches
and inscribes their words in Michigan's playbook.
"Lloyd has a public side and a private side,"
said former Michigan lineman and current radio
broadcaster Jim Brandstatter. "When you have
the opportunity to speak with him privately, he
can be as charming and interesting of a guy you
could imagine. Lloyd's a three-
dimensional human being with "Paterno
great interests outside of football, don't knot
and I'm lucky to see all of them. A
lot of folks just see him as some- you want
what stoic on the sidelines, but to anyone
believe me, there's a fire in there." You've got
He won a national title in 1997. And he's taken
the Wolverines to seven straight New Year's Day
But, at Michigan, that's not always enough.
Critics point to the three 8-4 seasons Michigan
has endured. They complain on talk-radio shows,
asking why Michigan has been to one Rose Bowl
in the past decade.
And they dwell on the 2000 team that boasted
arguably the most talented offense in school his-
tory, yet faltered twice on the road and didn't
contend for the national title.
Carr is a sensitive guy who often gets emo-
tional. The pressure and expectations are some-
times too much for him to handle.
"It's hard," Carr admits. "I've heard people say
that they don't take the job home with them. But
it consumes you. If you can't handle the criticism
- if it tears you apart, if it distracts you - then
you'll fail. You may fail anyways, but you have to
be tough mentally because you know (the pres-
sure) is real and it's intense:'
Carr revolutionized Michigan on a national
level because now the Wolverines expect to win a
national title, not just a Big Ten Championship.
"I've heard players say, 'I'm tired of hearing
about the '97 team."' Carr said. "But the truth is
they set the bar for all of us. And that's fun."
But trying to repeat that feat is also
id, ' taxing. Carr admits he sometimes has
why trouble sleeping, and that he reads to
I talk "get away."
He also takes out his frustrations on
se- the golf course. "You don't want to play
the golf with him, cause he'll fight you
for every stroke," said former Michigan
t on defensive line coach Brady Hoke, who
left after this season to become head
coach at Ball State. "And he won't be
Mayoros afraid to rub it in."
After the 1998 Rose Bowl victory - which clinched a share of the 1997 national title - senior linebacker Rob Swett embraces Carr. Carr, who won
the Bear Bryant Coach of the Year Award in that magical season, holds an impressive 76-23 career record as Michigan coach.
the job right
Nobody has to explain to Carr -
the meaning of "toughness." Born - Emi
in Hawkins County, Tenn., Carr Carr's fricd and
grew up in a tumultuous and
racially insensitive environment. He saw signs
for "colored" and "white" drinking fountains.
He'd enter the bus, and notice all the black kids
were sitting in the back.
At age 10, his family moved to the industrial
outskirts of Detroit. But the country was in a
recession, and Carr stared adversity in the eye.
Most of his early years were in the very mod-
est, blue-collar working neighborhood of
Riverview. Carr's dad, an hourly worker at
McLouth Steel, and mother, a beautician at Hud-
son's, both worked hard to make ends meet.
"Our parents lived payday to payday," said
Terry Collins, a childhood friend and Lloyd's
neighbor growing up. "It wasn't always easy
back then, but (the situation) made us into a
'bedroom community,' where everyone knew
Carr and Collins spent most of their spare
time down the street at a local park and recre-
ation center. They'd play pick-up baseball, bas-
ketball, ping-pong - anything. And Lloyd was
always the leader.
"He had that intangible, that type of conta-
gious personality," said Ernie Mayoros, Lloyd's
friend and former football coach at Riverview
High School. "Whatever Lloyd said to do, that's
what they did. They didn't question him a bit."
Mayoros remembers one football game
where Carr - an All-State quarterback -
willed his team to victory. With Riverview
down 12-0 at halftime to Grosse Isle, Carr gath-
ered his teammates on the sidelines and "gave
them a lot of hell." He "let them know we were
going to win that game."
"Of course, the language wasn't the cleanest
- a lot of four-letter words," Mayoros said.
With his Southern accent and motivational
messages, Carr sounded like a Baptist minister
- and his coaches donned him with the nick-
name "The Reverend."
A three-sport athlete at Riverview - football,
basketball and baseball - Carr was quite the Mr.
Popularity amongst his class of less than 100.
And he didn't limit himself to what sports he
would play. One summer, when Carr was in
junior high school, he won a tennis tourna.-
ment. This stunned Patrick Ankney, Carr's
high school basketball coach.
"I didn't even know he played tennis,"he said.
Carr's extreme competitiveness didn't leave
him when he turned in his cleats for a headset.
In eight seasons, he has won more than 75
percent of the games he's coached at Michigan.
JOEPA TO BO
Initially, Carr wasn't in such a fighting mood
in pursuing the Michigan coaching job in 1995.
In fact, Carr thought about resigning from his
position as defensive coordinator.
Carr's dream job was the Michigan head
coaching position. But it only became available
due to the downfall of his dear friend, Gary
Moeller. Moeller, Carr's best man at his second
wedding, resigned on May 4, 1995 after a drunk-
en incident at a Southfield, Mich. restaurant.
Carr and Moeller spent 17 years on the side-
lines coaching together. They were brothers.
They laughed together. They cried together.
"Lloyd was really broken up about (the resig-
nation)," Mayoros said.
Carr was named interim coach, but Michigan
had other people in mind as Moeller's full-time
successor. Mayoros said that Michigan was look-
ing at a few candidates, including an assistant at
Penn State. But when Michigan officials called
Paterno for his opinion on his assistant, he
instead gave a ringing endorsement for Carr.
Mayoros remembered: "Paterno said, 'I don't
know why you want to talk to anyone else,
you've got the right person right on your staff."'
Schembechler couldn't have agreed more.
He helped convince then-Athletic Director
Joe Roberson to name Carr the permanent
head coach on Nov. 15.
Carr's honesty and loyalty always impressed
Schembechler. Unlike some assistants who were
always looking for the "next job," Carr felt he
was already at the top of the mountain. When he
was Michigan's secondary coach, Carr even
turned down a chance to be an assistant for
Chuck Noll and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Schembechler also said the only reason he's
able to "hang around" and have an office - just
a few hundred feet down the hall from Carr's -
is because he knows Carr is confident and secure
enough to handle it. "I get the impression he kind
of likes it," Schembechler said with a smile.
And Carr lets him know just that. Schem-
bechler remembers a time he returned to his
office after speaking to the team - per Carr's
request - before an Ohio State game. Bo was
then touched to see a handwritten note on his
desk, written by Carr, thanking Bo for his time
and his friendship.
In fact, Carr moseys his way down the hall
"very frequently" to ask Bo questions about any-
thing - players, plays, situations, the state of
football, problems at Michigan and dealing with
administration and alumni.
"Lloyd's job is way tougher than I ever had it,"
Schembechler said. "Not only does he have to
win, he has to keep the stadium filled. If there's
ever two bad years and the attendance drops
down near 90,000, that'd be a catastrophe (budg-
Schembechler pointed out how everything a
coach does now is under a "microscope" and how
investigative reporting changed a lot of things.
"You can't say that something's a 'family mat-
ter' anymore," Schembechler said. "Either
(reporters) will dig, or they'll give their own take."
Carr often takes the media too seriously. At
times, he is evasive and contentious. Carr will
always find a way not to answer a question. He'll
grin at you. He'll stare at you. He'll give you that
devilish angry look - and like a true politician
- rarely disclose anything he doesn't want to.
"Since he's started, he contends the toughest
part of the job isn't coaching, it's working with
me on Michigan Replay," said Brandstatter, the
host of the weekly television show. "Sometimes
you have to just get after him."
And hope he doesn't fight back.
Michigan's football man didn't actually want
to play football. Carr was recruited by Missouri
to star on the diamond, but after a devastating
shoulder injury in his junior year in college, foot-
ball seemed like his best option.
When Missouri assistant coach Rollie Dotsch
took a job at Northern Michigan, Carr followed
him. Carr's arm was healthy enough to became
the starting quarterback. He led the Wildcats to
an undefeated season and even got some bites
from NFL teams. But after a short tryout with the
Packers, he shook the hand of Vince Lombardi,
got a check and left to start his coaching career.
After stints at Nativity High School and
Belleville, he took the reins of John Glenn High
School in Westland - his first head coaching job.
Carr's closest friends and former coaches say
his blue-collar background shaped him, and Carr
hasn't forgotten his roots.
"He's in a high profile job that I'm sure a lot of
guys let go to their heads," said Chuck Gordon,
who was an assistant under Carr at John Glenn.
"He hasn't forgotten us guys he knew on the way
up, and he hasn't changed a lick in the 30 years
I've known him. As important a job as he has, he
always has time for me."
Carr also develops a close relationship with
each of his players, and is a master of motiva-
tion. His veins may pop out as he yells at a
lineman, or he may pull a receiver aside quietly
and teach him how to run a route. If a tailback
misses a class or screws up off the field, Carr
will wake him up at 5 a.m. for the feared
"Dawn Patrol," when the kid will run the Big
House steps until he passes out.
"You NEVER want to do that," senior receiver
Ron Bellamy said.
And as much as Carr never wants to leave the
game, he said he didn't want to discuss whether
he'll finish out his contract, which ends in 2008.
When he does finally decide to retire, he knows
exactly what he's going to do with his spare time.
Carr grins as he explains how one of the things
he's always wanted to do was sit in on one of the
many lectures at the University.
And this action will test Carr's well-rounded-
DUDE ! WHCO'SMY
Not many people can honestly say they
know who the real Lloyd Carr is. But here
are a few interesting tidbits that might
ignite some curiosities.
Carr often burns the
midnight oil, staying
late to work at
And in the morning,
Carr won't forget one
of his favorite bever-
ages - and caffeine
suppliers - Starbucks
,7 ,r ,'
Carr may not kick back
and switch the channel
to "TRL" on MTV, but he
may turn the clicker to
A&E for an intriguing
episode of "Biography."
Carr enjoys learning
about famous leaders of
the past, often reading
the stories of their lives cover to
cover. His favorite book is
Lincoln's biography by
"Lincoln was the greatest
leader in the history of
our country," Carr
Imagine having the opportunity to grill
Carr on anything you'd like - and he HAS
to answer! That dream became a reality
for several Law School students who
asked Carr to serve
as an "expert
witness" during one
of their classes last
Carr sweated it out,
and was "amazed"
at the severe criti-
cism given out by
instructors to the
Carr, a huge histo-
ry buff, was so
fascinated with a
book he read on the D-Day invasion
during World War II that he made not
one but two trips to the banks of Nor-
in attempt to
immerse hi m-
self into the
"It was truly
remarkable," Carr said. "It's the type of
place where once you go, you have to
Carr said he's also traveled to Paris,
and he plans to see many more sites
once he retires from football.
EMI AVM W 11
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