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Heat is on Carr

Lloyd Carr started his career at Michigan by winning 10 of his first 11 games against Top 10 teams.
He won a share of the 1997 national title, the Wolverines' first in nearly a half century.

Oh, and he lost to Appalachian State on Saturday.

Guess which one he'll be remembered for?

Appalachian State's 34-32 victory over fifth-ranked Michigan in Ann Arbor sent shockwaves across Car Flag Nation on college football's first Saturday. But the most damage is likely to be felt in the Michigan football offices, where you'll find the hottest seat in the country.
The Wolverines entered this autumn, as they do every year, expecting to contend for the national title. Not this year.

Michigan can run the table the rest of the way - not that we like its chances after Saturday - and the Wolverines will be laughed out of every discussion about the BCS title game in New Orleans.
And to think there were some people - raise your hands, Michigan fans - who thought the Wolverines deserved a berth in the BCS title game last January instead of Florida, which filleted Big Ten champion Ohio State.

Off Saturday's loss, it's clear that the Wolverines are more likely to spend the holidays someplace much less glamorous, such as San Antonio or Orlando. The question is, will Carr be there with them?
From now until the end of the season, Carr's future will become fodder for every sports talk show in Michigan and the leading topic on every dot-com devoted to Maize and Blue football, and there are a few.

It will become an issue every time a Michigan recruiter knocks on a blue-chipper's door. It will provide an unsettling background for Carr's dealings with the media, which are never warm in the best of times.

That's what one hideous, unthinkable loss can do.

Saturday's result from the Big House no doubt brought a few smiles down in Columbus - although shrewd Buckeyes fans might not want Michigan to relieve Carr, given his recent struggles against Jim Tressel.

And the score had to raise spirits in South Bend, Ind., if only because it will bump Notre Dame's humiliating 33-3 loss to Georgia Tech off the front of the Sunday sports section.

That's the way college football works. One man's misery is another's celebration.

Right now, Carr is feeling plenty of misery.

The Appalachian State loss is a stark contrast to the start of Carr's tenure at Michigan in 1995. He took the job under uncomfortable circumstances - the abrupt offseason firing of Gary Moeller, dismissed for off-the-field problems.

Though he had scores of doubters from the start, Carr was the ultimate big-game coach early in his career - and he was much more adept at winning the biggies than Bo Schembechler ever was.
From 1995, when he was hired, through Jan. 1, 1998, when Michigan beat Washington State to win the Associated Press poll title, Carr went 7-0 against Top 10. In an era of parity, that's unfathomable.
At one point, Carr was 10-1 against the Top 10. And he's still 16-8 overall.

Carr has lost five of his last seven games against Top 10 teams. Given his fabulous start, some cooling off was to be expected.

Carr has never been embraced by Michigan fans. To some, he was too conservative, unwilling to unleash his talent.

After the Wolverines gritted out a close win over Ohio State on their way to the national title, a relieved Carr admitted that he had considered punting on third down several times late in the game and turning the game over to Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson and his defense.
He wasn't smiling when he said it.

The 1997 national title only served to ratchet up expectations in Ann Arbor. Carr privately wondered if he could ever do enough to satisfy the Maize and Blue beast.

But as long as Carr won, he could keep the critics at bay.

His biggest sin, in the eyes of many Michigan fans, is that he's not Schembechler. But who is?
Carr, a loyal Schembechler assistant, was always uncomfortable with comparisons to his former boss.
It's worth noting that Michigan is 0-3 since Schembechler died last November, having lost to Ohio State, Southern California and, now, Appy State.

Michigan fans don't like losing to the Buckeyes and the Trojans. But there's no shame.
Losing to Appy State - well, that's another story. And it's the kind of story that doesn't end with ``happily ever after.''

by: Anthony White - theSpread.com - Email Us

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