August 28, 2006

Things Ain't Looking Pretty in Ann Arbor

TODAY AT LUNCH, I was discussing college football with two fellow alumni of Big Ten Conference schools when talk turned to this week's upcoming games. A bit sourly, I remarked that the lowly Vanderbilt Commodores stood a pretty good chance of knocking off my revered Michigan Wolverines. This prompted a bit of surprise among my colleagues, but I was only half-joking when I said Lloyd Carr could find a way to grab defeat out of the jaws of victory. If anyone could, I figured, Michigan's football coach would be the one to do it.

My sour mood wasn't improved when I stumbled across Detroit Free Press scribe Mike Snyder's recent column discussing how Carr reacts to his critics. Namely, he ignores them like a kindergartener and presses on blindly forward, regardless of what they have to say. Mr Snyder writes:

In Chicago at the Big Ten media days earlier this month, Carr explained that he doesn't read the newspaper, especially during the season. Part of that approach came from the book "The Contrarian's Guide to Leadership," written by USC president Steven B. Sample, who swore off reading the newspaper to avoid getting sucked into the criticism.

"You're still going to know because people are going to tell you," Carr said. "His deal was, rather than get it from a writer, I'm going to get an interpretation from one of my friends. He's going to have his biases too, but at least I know what those are."

Carr still checks out a national newspaper occasionally to be informed on world events, but the only outside information about his team is from the articles brought to him by the U-M sports information department or his secretary. And that's just to keep tabs on what his players are saying.

Anything about him - and as Michigan's coach, there's always something - he'd prefer to avoid.

Oh, swell. Ohio State has Jim Tressel as coach, and we've got frickin' Nero. What the hell? I mean, here we are, coming off the worst season in more than two decades, and the coach isn't going to bother listening to anyone out in the real world? We've lost three out of our last four games against Ohio State, and the coach isn't going to give a moment's thought about what others think might help? Come on!

Oh, if only that was all. But Mr Snyder continues:

Which leads to the written speculation about his job status. Athletic director Bill Martin, U-M president Mary Sue Coleman and the Board of Regents strongly support Carr.

"Lloyd Carr is the Michigan football coach and we are extremely grateful to have Lloyd coach this team and represent our university," Martin said. "He has been our coach for the last decade, he is our football coach and I cannot foresee any reason why he wouldn't continue as our football coach."

Well, what if ol' Lloyd managed to lose YET AGAIN to The Ohio State University? There's a fine reason if I ever saw one. Here's another one: Lloyd manages to somehow lose more than three games again this time around. Here's another one: Lloyd keeps running the ball on third and long! I could go on. It wouldn't be difficult.

Quite frankly, if Mr Martin cannot foresee reasons why Lloyd wouldn't continue as Michigan's football coach, perhaps we should soon start looking for reasons why Mr Martin ought not continue as Director of Intercollegiate Athletics. Our pathetic basketball program, for instance. As for President Coleman, it's understandable why she supports Carr's tenure -- for seven years, she was president of the University of Iowa!

Iowa! That perennial mediocrity of a school! They have long wanted to oust Michigan as a Big Ten football powerhouse, and with each passing year they seem to be getting closer to that goal. Maybe this is all part of their secret plan -- install one of their own as Michigan's president, then let the vine wither from inattention.

Anyway, I fear the prognosis is grim for this year's football season. But I will say this. As a proud Michigander, I support my football team and will gladly eat my words should I be proved wrong. As such, if Michigan's football team goes 10-2 this year, I will commend Coach Carr for his performance. If Michigan's football team goes 11-1 this year, and we beat Ohio State, I will openly admit I was wrong to call for him to be cashiered. If Michigan's football team goes 12-0 and we win a national championship, I will make a pilgrimage during 2007 to The Original Cottage Inn, at 512 E. William St. in Ann Arbor, and will gladly offer my apologies for my lack of faith to anyone within earshot. Between bites of deep-dish pizza, of course.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at August 28, 2006 08:27 PM | TrackBack
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