|LAGE ON FOOTBALL: Carr in time will get the credit he deserves|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 19 November 2007 17:31|
If his name was mentioned Monday, when he announced his retirement, the response might've included a joke about him losing to second-tier Appalachian State or to the Jim Tressel-led Ohio State Buckeyes six times in seven years.
That's fair, because what happened recently is what people remember.
It's also unfortunate, because Carr was much more than that as a coach and a person.
It might shock some to see his .752 winning percentage sandwiched between Florida State's Bobby Bowden and South Carolina's Steve Spurrier among active coaches.
Perhaps it would surprise others to learn Carr's 1997 national championship was Michigan's first in 49 years, well before Bo Schembechler came to Ann Arbor, or that he was the first coach in school history to win four straight bowls.
Carr is one of eight Big Ten coaches with five conference titles and he won almost twice as many games as he lost against top-10 teams.
``History will be more kind to Lloyd Carr than the present perception about him as a coach,'' said Big Ten Network analyst Gerry DiNardo, who coached at LSU, Vanderbilt and Indiana. ``It's natural for people to bring up what happened this season, but his critics should also point out his national championship, winning percentage, Big Ten titles and record against top-10 teams.
``And what's really remarkable is he did it without the hint of NCAA violations.''
Carr suddenly became Michigan's interim coach in 1995, when Gary Moeller resigned, and he grew into the high-pressure job. The Wolverines dropped the interim tag during his first season and, two years later, he validated the decision by leading them to a national championship.
Along the way, Carr developed players that turned into NFL stars such as New England quarterback Tom Brady and Green Bay cornerback Charles Woodson.
On the Mount Rushmore of coaching at Michigan, Carr has earned a spot next to Schembechler and Fielding Yost. Among coaches with a decade of experience in the Big Ten, Carr ranks behind the late great Michigan coaches with a .779 winning percentage in conference games.
``I feel extremely privileged to have played for one of the most respected and passionate coaches in the history of Michigan football,'' Brady said.
Carr was tough on his players at times, suspending them or kicking them off the team for misdeeds.
Yet they respected him because of his work ethic and for thinking about them as people in ways such as forcing them look up a word in the dictionary outside his office before coming in to talk.
Players, assistants and those he let close to him also got a kick out of his sneaky humor and teasing ways. That's another unfortunate aspect of Carr's legacy.
On TV, he often came across as dry, boring or combative during news conferences. Away from the spotlight, he was a pleasure. And he was a generous benefactor. Carr helped raise more than $2 million for the school's Children's Hospital, cancer and urology centers by promoting the sale of wristbands, hosting a car wash and a radiothon.
The former high school English teacher would talk about world leaders such as Theodore Roosevelt and Benjamin Disraeli and how their leadership principles guided his life.
When Carr announced he is retiring after the Wolverines play their bowl game, he shared his inspiration from poet Pakenham Beatty.
``He said, `By your own soul learn to live,''' Carr said Monday at a news conference in which he went back and forth between tears and laughter. ```If some men force, you take no heed. If some men hate, you have no care. Sing your song, dream your dream, hope your hope and pray your prayer.'
``And that's what I've tried to do.''
Carr knew some people would go searching to find out something about Beatty.
Perhaps that was fitting; teaching right to the end.