Lloyd Tribute

As a new season and era is on the horizon for the Michigan football program, I would like to reflect and pay tribute to Lloyd Carr, the former head coach of the Wolverines.

To sum up Lloyd's head coaching career at Michigan… he definitely experienced both the sweet and sour sides of the job. The first half of his career included a national championship in 1997, a good bowl record (4-2), and the domination over archrival Ohio State (5-1). However, the latter part of his career would turn out to be the complete opposite. From 2001 till 2007, Lloyd's record against the Buckeyes dropped off significantly to a 1-6 record. The Wolverines also had trouble winning bowl games during that span.

I was always a big supporter of Lloyd Carr, even through his times of heavy criticism. I respected him not only as a great coach and teacher for the maize and blue, but also as a man of admirable character. Even though press conferences typically weren't his cup of tea and he tried to make them as boring as possible, he would occasionally throw a wrench into the reporter's scheme of questioning… and that was quite entertaining. Now, some would label that as being a jerk, but I disagree. Lloyd always seemed to maintain that persona throughout his career and you just have to respect that on some level. If there was an injury or an issue with a specific player (in his doghouse), he would provide information in the best way he saw fit… undoubtedly his way.

On the subject of press conferences, I remember listening to one a few years back and Lloyd was talking about the origins of the rivalry between Michigan vs. Minnesota (Little Brown Jug). He always enjoyed educating everyone about any type of old rivalry. It seemed as if he took more pleasure out of talking about the past and history than answering questions from the reporters. Lloyd would also break out the occasional quotes from the likes of Churchill, Hemingway, etc.

What I believe went wrong in the latter part of his career was that the college football culture and game were changing. The play calling has become more innovative and the players need a new type of philosophy or motivation. Perhaps the players of this day and age need a bit more than quotes from historical leaders and classic writers. Maybe the players aren't responding to the allusions of Mt. Everest or World War II anymore. This was not Lloyd's fault because change is inevitable. You have to respect a coach that was always loyal to his team and stood by every individual player who wore a winged helmet.

When I think of Lloyd's influence on the players, Braylon Edwards (WR) in 2003 comes to mind. Edwards was in his doghouse at the beginning of the season for "not being on the same page." As most Wolverine fans know, Edwards wore the heralded #1 jersey that year because he believed he had earned the right to do so, but Lloyd didn't quite see it. In any case, after being in the doghouse for a few games, Edwards' performance on the field soared like never before. He would later go on to have a record breaking senior season the next year and become a two time Big Ten champion. His character and leadership also developed significantly.

To Lloyd Carr, the game was always second to character. He believed that character defined the individual overall, not just accolades and talent. Lloyd also valued education and the importance of a player trying to expand his potential beyond the football field. His success and legacy at Michigan will always be remembered and he knew exactly when to walk away from the game and players he loved with a passion.

In the early spring Lloyd held a press conference and talked about what he had been up to since retiring last November. He told the reporters that he watched quite a few films and did some traveling out of the country. Hmmm… that's probably what I would do, too.



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