Carr shuts down at Michigan
Carr, groomed for the position by Bo Schembechler, coached the Wolverines to 121 wins, five Big Ten titles and a national championship.
“On this week of Thanksgiving no one has more to be thankful for than I do,” Carr said at a news conference Monday.
The departure by the 62-year-old Carr opens a job the nation’s winningest football program. LSU coach Les Miles seems to be at the top of the list of potential successors. He played for Schembechler at Michigan, where he met his wife and later became an assistant.
Carr said he hopes that whoever comes after him will continue the long tradition at Michigan of winning “with integrity.”
“That’s what we want to do,” he said. “In the big picture the character of this institution will be defined by the way this program is run, and that really is what Michigan is about and what I hope will always be about.”
Carr said it will be up to athletic director Bill Martin to decide what role, if any, he will have in choosing the next coach.
Even though Miles appears to be in a great situation leading the top-ranked Tigers in a talent-rich area of the country, the school was concerned enough about him bolting for Michigan that it put a specific clause in his contract to make it an expensive move.
In the “termination by coach” section of his deal, Michigan is the only other school mentioned. It states that Miles will not seek or accept employment as Michigan’s coach. If Miles does leave LSU to coach the Wolverines, he must pay LSU $1.25 million.
Other candidates might include Carolina Panthers assistant Mike Trgovac, who played for the Wolverines and joined their coaching staff in 1984 as a graduate assistant; Kirk Ferentz of Iowa, where University of Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman was before coming to Ann Arbor; and NFL coaches Bobby Petrino in Atlanta and Tampa Bay’s Jon Gruden.
Carr had a 121-40 record for a .752 winning percentage, seventh among active coaches, behind Florida State’s Bobby Bowden and ahead of South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier.
Michigan opened the season with a 34-32 loss to Appalachian State in one of college football’s biggest upsets, and loss to Oregon immediately followed.
The Wolverines rebounded with eight straight wins and closed the regular season with two more losses – to Wisconsin and Ohio State. Saturday’s 14-3 defeat was the fourth straight loss to the Buckeyes, matching Michigan’s longest losing streak in the storied series. Carr was the first coach in school history to lose six times in seven years in the rivalry.
The Jim Tressel-led Buckeyes beat the Wolverines 14-3, Saturday, dropping Carr to 6-7 overall in the matchup that matters most.
“Lloyd Carr is one of the true gentlemen of college football,” Tressel said Sunday. “His legacy is extraordinary and his leadership in the coaching profession is greatly appreciated. He made a difference in collegiate athletics.”
Carr led the Wolverines to the 1997 national championship. He won 77.9 percent of his conference games, trailing the success rate of just two coaches that were in the Big Ten for at least a decade: Michigan’s Bo Schembechler and Fielding Yost. Against top-10 teams, Carr was 17-9.
Michigan has lost its last four bowl games, including three Rose Bowls, the longest postseason skid since Schembechler dropped seven straight in the 1970s.
The Wolverines were ranked No. 5 before this season started by voters who thought returning stars on offense would make up for inexperienced players on defense and special teams.
Then came the loss to Appalachian State, making Michigan the first ranked team to lose to a team from the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly Division I-AA. That led to an unprecedented fall out of the poll. The 39-7 loss to Oregon was Michigan’s worst at home since 1968.
The Wolverines did rally and had a chance to win the Big Ten title outright and earn a spot in the Rose Bowl in the regular-season finale against Ohio State. With the loss to the Buckeyes, Michigan is likely to end up in the Outback Bowl or the Alamo Bowl.