Michigan Coach Carr Steps Down After 13 Seasons

Monday, November 19th 2007, 12:54 pm
By: News On 6

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) _ Lloyd Carr retired Monday after 13 years as Michigan's coach, following a season defined by a startling loss to Appalachian State and yet another defeat by Ohio State.

Carr, groomed for the position by Michigan coaching great Bo Schembechler, led 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.

The departure by the 62-year-old Carr opens a job at the nation's winningest football program. Les Miles, the coach at No. 1 LSU, 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 follows him will continue the long Michigan tradition 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.

Martin said he had 20 candidates in mind and would form a committee to help him in the search process.

``I want to get this done as soon as I can,'' he said.

Carr told his players and staff he was leaving Sunday during a team meeting at Schembechler Hall.

``It was emotional,'' safety Jamar Adams said. ``My eyes welled up.''

Carr has one game remaining at Michigan. He will coach the Wolverines in their bowl game, mostly likely the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio or the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla.

The move was not a surprise. Last winter, Carr altered his contract to pave the way for this to be his last season and later made sure the school gave his assistants unprecedented two-year deals.

At his news conference, he joked about speculation that he is tired.

``I'm not tired,'' he said. ``I may look tired, but I still have a great passion for the game, for the players and for the competition. But I also know that there are some things that I don't have anymore, and so it's time. That's all I can say to you.''

Even though Miles appears in a great situation leading the Tigers in a talent-rich area, 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.

Gary DiNardo was in a similar situation when he was coaching at LSU and his alma mater contacted him about its opening a decade ago.

``I told Notre Dame that I didn't want to talk until the season was over, but each coach is different in how they handle that,'' said DiNardo, who was in Ann Arbor working for the Big Ten Network. ``My advice to Les Miles would be to learn from the Nick Saban saga and to either tell the truth or don't say anything.''

Saban said he had no interest in the Alabama job when it became vacant nearly a year ago while he was coaching the Miami Dolphins, then declined comment the next month. After five weeks of denials and two days of deliberation, Saban bolted to coach the Crimson Tide.

Other candidates might include Kirk Ferentz of Iowa, where Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman was before coming to Ann Arbor, and major college coaches with Midwest ties such as Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, a native of Youngstown, Ohio.

An Iowa spokesman said Monday that Ferentz would not comment.

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 a 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 on 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 took over a program shaken by Gary Moeller's sudden resignation in 1995. 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: 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 rallied 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. The loss to the Buckeyes dropped them down a level on the bowl invitation list.

Michigan has lost its last four bowl games, including three Rose Bowls, the longest postseason skid since Schembechler dropped seven straight in the 1970s.

Carr's career was a lot like the 2007 season: relatively rough at the start, great in the middle and lackluster toward the end.

The longtime assistant was elevated to interim coach May 16, 1995, after Moeller resigned following a drunken confrontation with police. Michigan dropped the interim tag toward the end of his first season.

The Wolverines lost four games in each of Carr's first two seasons, then went 12-0 and won the national championship a decade ago accomplishing a feat the late Schembechler didn't.

Michigan won Big Ten titles in 1997, 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2004 under Carr.

The Wolverines were 7-5 two years ago, their worst season in two decades, and bounced back in 2006 with 11 wins and a third trip to the Rose Bowl in four years.

Carr was hired by Schembechler in 1980 as defensive backs coach and promoted him to defensive coordinator in 1987. He held that job through the 1994 season.