November 28, 2007 Now that Lloyd Carr has announced his retirement as Michigan football coach, all those who had been calling for his head in recent months can celebrate his exit.
Their celebration, how-ever, should be tempered with a sense of loss and an appreciation and admiration for what Carr accomplished in his years at the University of Michigan.
While Carr's 2007 Wolverine season began and ended poorly, finishing the year with an un-Michigan-like 8-4 record, Coach Carr leaves a legacy of success at Michigan.
Not merely as a coach whose 121-40 won-lost record over the past 12 years ranks him among the best in college football, but as a man who instilled character and pride in his players—whether they won or lost.
One can argue that he wasn't able to win the big games, noting his 5-7 record in Bowl games and a string of losses to arch-rival Ohio State in recent years. But he took his team to a co-National championship in 1997, when the Wolverines finished 12-0. That's something the im-mortal Bo Schembechler was never able to accomplish.
As a leader of young men, Carr is a winner of monumental proportion and has few equals.
It's doubtful you will find a Michigan player with anything bad to say about Coach Carr. He treated each of them with respect and understanding and expected nothing less from them.
He is an honest man and surprisingly generous with his time. On two occasions I had the opportunity to speak with Lloyd Carr.
The first time was at my daughter's graduation ceremony at Almont High School. Carr was the guest speaker at commencement exercises and was kind enough to share a few extra minutes answering questions from a local newspaper reporter.
I might as well have been representing the Detroit News, Free Press or New York Times for that matter. He treated me with utmost respect. Not once did I sense he was in a hurry to finish up and be on his way back to Ann Arbor, though I'm sure he probably was.
The second occasion I had to talk with Coach Carr was in 1997, the Wolverine's National championship season.
It was the same season that Nate Miller, an Imlay City High School grad, was the starting noseguard on one of Michigan's most vaunted defenses.
I'd arranged for a telephone interview through a contact in Carr's office and was given a specific time to call. I made the scheduled call right on the dot, and much to my surprise, it was Lloyd Carr who took the call.
He spent as much time with me as I needed, responding at length to each question, and again, without any hint of urgency or that he needed to move on to his next duty.
That's the Lloyd Carr I met. And although our shared experiences were fleeting, I trust he treats everyone he meets with the same respect.
The University of Michigan will undoubtedly find an outstanding football coach to succeed Lloyd Carr. He may even be more successful if he lasts long enough.