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June 30, 2008 - Image 39

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2008-06-30

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Orientation Edition 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

27

MICHIGAN FOOTBALL
As an incoming student, you're just in time to witness one of the most interesting seasons in Michigan
football history. The old regime.- one that started in 1969 with the hiring of Bo Schembechler - harr can't escape
come to an end. Now, Rich Rodriguez has been given the task of overhauling this storied program. "sotlig t ienfinale

Lloyd Carr is carried off the field after Michigan beat Florida in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1 his last game as Wolverine coach-
Coach won, lost with integrity

ORLANDO, Fla. -
He fought hard against
the individual attention
leading up to his final
game, but
in the end, -
Michigan
coach Lloyd ~~
Carr lost that
battle.
And in
doing so, he,
passed his so- SCOTT
called impass- BELL
able final test:
ending his
coaching career on top, both liter-
ally and figuratively.
Carr left Florida Citrus Bowl
Stadium on his players' shoulders,
the ones he repeatedlytold not
to play this game just for him. It
didn't work for Bo Schembechler
18 years earlier, so it wouldn't
work for Carr, either, right?
Not quite. Carr's team would
have none of that talk.
No. 9 Florida may have been
the heavy favorite on paper - the
home-state, defending National
Champion from che supposedly
superior Soucheastern Conference
was playing an unranked Michi-
gan squad, after all - but it didn't
translate on the field. Trailing
early, the speedy Gators and their
Heisman Trophy-winning quar-
terback did everythingthey could
to regain the momentum. But fake
punts and misdirection can only
get you so far when you're battling
a team hellbent on sending its
beloved coach out in style.
THE PERFECT STAGE
Though Carr's intentions to
retire didn't become official until
after the Ohio State game, most
people within the program figured
2007 would be his lastcgo-around
as Michigan's sideline general.
The 62-year-old coach's team had
a chance to send him out on top,
but by mid-September, a National
Championship was already outof
the picture.
Once Michigan bookended its
regular season with back-to-back
losses, a positive ending for the
Lloyd Carr retirement tour looked
like a near-impossible fate. A
team with top-notch talent and
an excess of leadership suffered
top-notch disappointmentand an

excess of injuries.
Time and time again, it became
obvious that good things don't
always happen to good people.
Storybook endings may make
people smile walking out of movie
theaters, butthey're a rare fate in
real life.
But on New Year's Day, real life
made an exception for Lloyd Carr.
CARR'S NOT ALONE IN LEAVING
ON TOP
The game had all the ingredi-
ents of being yet another disap-
pointment for a team too familiar
with the feeling.
Mike Hart fumbled twice in
the red zone. Chad Henne tossed
a pair of costly interceptions.
Michigan's defense got tricked by
misdirection in crucial situations.
Mistakes like that are supposed
to be deadly, especially against a
defending National Champion in a
hostile environment.
But this time around the Wol-
verine miscues were just a side-
note - not a cause of misery.
Hart's two touchdowns made
the fumbles stingless. Henne
threw for a career-best 373 yards
and tossed more touchdowns
(three) than interceptions. And
the Wolverine 'D'yielded just four
total yards during Florida's two
final offensive possessions.
Yes, after a season full of almos-
ts and what-ifs, the Michigan
football team finally closed with
an exclamation point instead of a
question mark.
Defensive coordinator Ron Eng-
lish, who, like most of his fellow
assistants, was having an involun-
tary swan song, designed a game-
plan to attack Florida repeatedly.
Pressure, the word the highly
scrutinized coaches leavingthis
program know too well, ended up
being the defense's greatest asset.
Offensive coordinator Mike
DeBord, who, like secondary
coach Vance Bedford, is saying
goodbye to Michigan for a second
time, also put together one of his
finest gameplans. Between a sea-
son-high 40-plus plays in spread
formations, numerous handoffs
to wideout Mario Manningham
and even a pass to All-American
tackle Jake Long, DeBord proved
he actually knew there was life
See BELL, Page 29

-.4,

The first question asked to
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr
after he announced his
retirement in a press conference
yesterday was-
how he thought
the public should
judge his time in
Ann Arbor.
"I didn't come
here to discuss
my legacy," Carr
said. JACK
Carr might HERMAN
not want to, but
in the coming weeks, countless
hours will be spent debating how to
evaluate his 13-year tenure running
the Wolverines.
Some will talk about how Carr
led Michigan to its first National
Championship since 1948. Others
will focus on his 1-6 record against
Ohio State coach Jim Tressel.
But Carr's seemingly non-answer
answer to the question might be a
better indication than anything else
of what his legacy will - or at least
should - be.
It represents how Carr, a boy

from a small town in Tennessee
who later became an accidental
head coach at a school where he
once turned down a scholarship,
honored his mentor by running one
of the sport's best programs the
only way it should be:
Like a true Michigan Man.
"He is Michigan football," defen-
sive coordinator Ron English said.
"He embodies this program. I think
he's really undervalued."
It's been that way since day one.
ROUGH START
Had Gary Moeller never gotten
drunk at a Southfield restaurant
in April of 1995, Carr might never
have become head coach at Michi-
gan. But when Moeller resigned
under pressure from the media
and the University, Carr - then the
team's defensive coordinator - had
a chance to take on many coach's
dream job.
But only if he wanted it.
Good friends with Moeller, Carr
had some doubts about taking over
- even on an interim basis - for
the man who had been anointed
Michigan's next head coach by Bo

Schembechler. In fact, caught up in
his emotions the day of Moeller's
resignation, he declared he would
accept the top job.
"He was not sure if it was the
right thing for him to do at the
time," said Joe Roberson, who as
Athletic Director appointed Carr
interim head coach on May 13 of
that year. "But Lloyd was a good
Michigan Man. If that was what we
thought would be the best thing,
that's what he should do."
Carr's appointment - which came
after Penn State coach Joe Paterno
,pushed Roberson to give Carr the
job - bought the athletic direc-
tor time to make his final coach-
ing decision. But after Michigan
lost games to Northwestern and
Michigan State that season, some
critics hoped that decision wouldn't
involve Carr.
The Carr they knew had not
served as a head coach since 1975,
when he left his job at John Glenn
High School in Westland to become
a defensive backs coach at Eastern
Michigan, taking a paycut
See HERMAN, Page 28

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