Waiting for Lloyd?
I'm sure it's a mistake to presume sports-talk radio callers, fearing a five-loss season, are the true voice of the fans. But I do sometimes wonder if Michigan football supporters really feel that the Wolverines would be better with another coach. As I've said before, I think such talk is ludicrous. I'd put Carr's record (which I believe is currently 97-31) up against any other coach's. Michigan has never taken the nose-dive that most football programs (Nebraska, Penn State, Oklahoma, USC, Notre Dame) inevitably experience. Not in my lifetime, at least. To the best of my knowledge, the worst record Michigan has posted in that span was 6-6 in 1984.
So I don't think Carr is going anywhere. Would I like to see him implement some new, more creative offensive and defensive philosophies? Of course I would. (Remember that 1997 defense? Is that the last time it seemed like Michigan was doing something really exciting? ) But Michigan isn't going to fire him. You know it and I know it. And he's certainly earned the right to decide when he steps down as head football coach.
Yet I do wonder how much longer Carr really wants to do this. There was some noise last year about retirement, which Carr shot down fast (mostly for recruiting purposes). He also seems to be taking steps to set up defensive coordinator Jim Herrmann as his successor.
And that's where I would draw the line with Carr. As maddening as all the "Carr must go" talk has been this week, I'm definitely intrigued when the discussion turns to who might eventually replace Carr, once he decides to walk away. Some people think Michigan will keep things "in the family," and hire someone from the current staff, like Herrmann or Mike DeBord (who failed as Central Michigan head coach). Or look at someone with connections to the program, like LSU's Les Miles, San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Cam Cameron (who crapped out as Indiana's head man), or Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac.
Others think that would be a huge mistake and should start fresh. But would a coach such as Urban Meyer leave Florida (and so soon)? What about a guy who's currently coaching in the NFL yet expressed interest in a college job, like Jon Gruden or, as Keith Langlois of the Oakland Press wondered, Steve Mariucci? (You just felt a bunch of Michigan fans wince.) I can see the appeal of breaking with the status quo and trying to start a new tradition. That's what Michigan did when it hired Bo Schembechler. But the football program isn't at the point it was when Bo was brought in. There's no rebuilding to be done. Michigan State hasn't superseded Michigan as the state's top football power.
I wouldn't mind seeing Michigan hire Cam Cameron as coach because he's an offensive-minded coach, and I think his failings at Indiana were largely due to lack of talent and a culture that just won't support football. But here's what I think will happen - or maybe more specifically, what I would like to see happen. Call it a prediction. And I hope you read it here first. I haven't seen anyone else say this.
I think Michigan will keep it in the family. And I think they're going to hire someone younger, who can be the head coach for a long time (10-15 years or more). I also think hiring a former player would be extremely popular with (most) Michigan fans. It's not going to happen tomorrow - and it shouldn't, because this guy probably isn't ready yet. But if Lloyd Carr sticks around for, let's say, five years, this guy will have paid his head-coaching dues, albeit at a smaller (but still NCAA Division I) school.
So I'd be kind of surprised if no one else has made this prediction yet. Someone probably has, but I just haven't seen it. (And I would prefer to give credit where it's deserved, though I would love hogging some "I told you so!" glory for myself). I think Michigan's next coach, after Lloyd Carr, will be their former quarterback (1983-1986) and current head coach at the University of San Diego.
The next Michigan head coach will be Jim Harbaugh.
Agree? Disagree? I'd love to hear it.