Lloyd Carr is a good coach:
The above statement may surprise some readers, but we must acknowlege the truth; however, the problem is the University of Michigan must realize that the team could have accomplished much more with a truly great coach - who that would be I'm not entirely sure of, but I do have a list of possibles in The Replacements.
Lloyd's List of Accomplishments
First and most obviously he won a National Championship in 1997, reluctantly sharing the title with Nebraska - this is a feat Our Beloved Bo could not accomplish. The team was led on offense by Brian Griese and on defense by one of only 3 defenders to ever win the Heisman: Charles Woodson.
Next, let's go further into the stats. His all-time record before the bowl game this season is a sterling 102-33, which translates into a winning percentage a shade over 75%, not too shabby. At last check he is among the top 5 winningest active coaches in D-I college football (two of those have over 300, which I doubt Lloyd will ever get to let alone coach in 300 more), but after a 7-4 record that could change quickly.
He's never coached a season in which the team did not make a bowl appearance, but his record is 5-5 with the decisive eleventh bowl to be played in the next month. He's recently taken us to three Rose Bowls (2 in the last 3 years), the ultimate bowl for us Wolverine fans, as well as an amazing string of 9 "New Year's" bowl games that was recently disrupted by our surprising drop to the Alamo Bowl.
Lastly, he's helped us win the Big Ten conference 5 times, 2 were outright championships and 3 times we have shared the title. I won't go into his accomplishments in any greater detail, because the University has done a fine job of delineating them at MGoBlue.com. Just click here to see what I mean.
What have you done for us lately, Lloyd?
Since the inception of the BCS in 1998, we've only made 3 BCS appearances. The first year, the year after we won a share of the National Championship we lost the first two games of the season - by 16 @ Notre Dame and by 10 while hosting Syracuse (let's just let that last one sink in for a moment). On second thought, let's not, because I recall that team had Tom Brady at the helm and he's no Brian Griese - not by a long shot considering the Super Bowl MVP hardware Tom has won (now we'll let it sink in).
The regular season record he has accumulated is quite amazing, especially considering the company he is in with that same record, the likes of JoePa and Bobby Bowden, but let's get down to brass tacks, let's get down to the money game: the bowls. He's .500 in bowl games and has only beaten SEC teams (4 times) with the exception of his National Championship team's win over Washington State. One further caveat is the fact that he's lost to SEC teams twice.
Furthermore, although he's gotten us to the Rose Bowl two out of the last three years, one of those times we backed in courtesy of our tie-breaker over Iowa since he couldn't beat OSU, and both times we lost. The man had over a month to prepare for those games, a month of breaking down film footage and assessing our strengths and weaknesses and not once could he do anything to slow down USC's team speed in the 2003 Rose Bowl nor could he figure out how to stop the bane of our existence - a mobile quarterback in Vince Young - in the 2004 Rose Bowl.
Lastly, look at this year as a testament to the degraded quality of coaching: Notre Dame beat us in The Big House, again; Wisconsin, a team gifted a victory by Minnesota, beat us on a run by John Stocco - a non-mobile QB; oh, our next loss was to Minnesota, the team that gifted a victory to Wisconsin - a noble gesture during the Barry Alvarez farewell tour; it took us about six combined FG attempts to beat MSU and Iowa; he lost to Jim Tressel and OSU at The Big House, again; and last but not least the bowl game situation. We're going to the Alamo Bowl since Iowa - a team we beat - took our reservation at the Outback Bowl; Northwestern - also a team we beat - gets to play a day later than us in the Sun Bowl; and finally, both of our main rivals, OSU and ND, made the BCS in addition to the Big Ten champ Penn State, which also happens to be a team we beat. Is this really want we want to see as U-M alumni: the championship game 8 years in the making on Dec. 28th, 2005 in the Alamo Bowl (does this mean LSU vs USC in the 2012 edition?)? Let me reiterate, our season is done before Northwestern (and Penn State) is done - and we beat them!
The most exciting play in college football: Michigan Special Teams!!
Yes, you read that right, and yes, that is a picture of Garrett Rivas. You'd think the University of Michigan could recruit a kicker with consistency, but instead we ended up with Garrett Rivas. What? Couldn't find any one-legged kickers, Lloyd? Zac Gowen doesn't have any eligibility?
The Method to Lloyd's Madness
After having watched the Lloyd Carr Coaching Experience, nothing ever ceases to amaze me. I've gone from rooting for 3 yards and a cloud of dust to just hoping we get a punt off to please, for the love of God, just block somebody so Mike Hart doesn't have to make 3 people miss.
Anyone remember 2003? I sure as heck don't want to, but I remember watching U-M Special Teams look like they were playing in the Special Olympics. Our linemen were so afraid to block let alone touch the other team that Lloyd tried having them start by not even touching each other. Luckily, we've moved through that ("blue") period and the only thing special about our special teams is Steve Breaston returning them for us in between his poetry readings.
Now, I'm as big a fan of college football as the nest Joe Shmoe, but since when does every close game of the year in the Big Ten, outside of Minnesota gifting Barry Alvarez an opportunity to win the conference title, have to involve us? If this were 1997 I wouldn't have a problem because our defense wouldn't let anyone score more than 16 points - the only exception being Iowa putting up a "hefty" 24. However, this is not 1997 and we don't have Kraig Baker banging in everything in sight. Instead, we have Garrett Rivas, a man who missed a kick so bad the commentator thought it was blocked (see this year's MSU game) and let me assure you, it wasn't.
Basically, what it boils down to with Lloyd, is he plays to win by a field goal; however, the oversight that he is apparently blind to is the fact that Garrett Rivas is our kicker. Secondly, our defense has failed to stop a mobile QB since the term was invented - Jim Herrmann even had the audacity to try the 3-4, which couldn't even stop gravity, let alone a mobile QB. Lastly, to win a championship in the BCS era you have to win convincingly to keep your team's stock up in the eyes of the voters and our only "big" win was a 55-0 drubbing of Eastern Michigan, a perennial bottom-feeder in the MAC.
Finally, not to harp on any sour notes of the past few years, but if you can't figure out how to stop a mobile QB, why exactly do we even bother showing up for the game. Simple logic would dictate NOT rushing upfield to hit the crap out of him and keep him in the pocket, where's he least comfortable and force him into making mistakes, but NOOOO (best read as Rizzo the Rat). Apparently all Jim and Lloyd do is play Metallica's Seek & Destroy to pump up our defense - and when you can't stop John Stocco from beating you with a QB draw, who can you expect to beat?