Thanks to "The Hammer" for alerting me to an article on ESPN.com by Gene Wojciechowski (AKA the other Wojo in local circles) on Coach Carr. Most of us have taken some shots at Lloyd on one occasion or another, about bad playcalling, not getting the most out of his multi-starred recruits, or crazy special teams play at the hands of a special teams coach that went AWOL following the integration of the "fun punt." The reason we do this is because of our year-round investment... emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially... in a team that takes the field about a dozen times each 365 days. And when there is anything less than perfection, our collective fingers have to be pointed somewhere. With some semblance of heart and mind, we find it difficult to direct those fingers at 18-22 year old college students (usually) and find ourselves looking at the man in charge.
We have an elitist attitude, brought on by the unflappable prestige of the University. You can see it in many of our fans, at home among the quietest 100,000+ crowd "anywhere in America today", and even more so on the road, where most of those that can afford to make the expensive road trips (alumni over 60 years of age) have made their loudest cheer a unison belting out of "down in front". We assume that the best of the nation's recruits make their way to Michigan because it's Michigan, and it becomes "Here you go Lloyd, we gave you the players, now win all the games." Nothing could be further from the truth. Coach Carr has been one the best, if not the best, recruiting head coach in college football throughout his tenure. How else can you classify someone that has pulled in such a plethora of talent from around the country, selling them six months of cold and overcast after they visit Austin, Gainsville, or Los Angeles?
Then there is the record book. Lloyd Carr is the 10th winningest active coach in college football, ahead of Jim Tressell, ahead of Joe Paterno. To put this in perspective, if Carr coached the Wolverines at their current pace for as long as Bowden coached FSU or Paterno coached PSU, he would be the all-time leader in wins in college football history. But Lloyd of course is much too old to coach another 30 years, having gotten his break late in his coaching life at the hands of a little too much Grand Mariner.
Entering his 27th season (11th as a head coach) of pacing the Wolverine's sideline, Lloyd Carr is nothing if not a leader of men. Quoting Lloyd from Wojo's article:
I'm going to do what I want to do. The hell with anybody else, what they think. So that's where it all begins with me. I love the game. I love the competition. I love the relationship with the players and the ability to have some kind of positive impact as they try to pursue a degree and play this game.
Wojo follows with:
They (the players) see this Carr; we don't. We don't see the Carr who treats his former players like family, swapping stories over a cold brew. We don't see the Carr who sends personalized notes to retiring Big Ten officials, thanking them for their years of service. "This I can guarantee you," says Dave Parry, the league's supervisor of officials. "He cares deeply about the game, the integrity of the game and the character of the game. That is a fact."
My (or "our" depending on who you are) investment as a fan, a follower that chooses to live vicariously through the success of this team, is substantial, if not imprudent. However, there is something that the Michigan elite need to remember: Michigan's most passionate fan is the one that will run out of the tunnel in less than a month wearing a maize and blue polo and a sinister smile. Because he cares about people, has true passion about the University, the game, and the people involved in it... and because he knows more about what it will take to win than you've forgotten.
In commitment news, Four-Star O-Lineman David Molk has given a verbal to the Wolverines. According to his scouting page, he "plays the game with bad intentions." Not sure what this means, but I think that it is a good thing. Read all about it in the Sun-Times (about half way down).