From Where I Sit [Jan. 19, 2006]
Winning isn't everything...wait, yes it is!
|CLASSY CARR? I can’t believe what nerds we are. We’re looking up “Class Act” in the dictionary!|
I got what I thought was an interesting email from a U of M fan a couple weeks ago. It said the following:
“The pro Carr crowd says he’s a “class act”. I don’t see him as classy at all. Do you?” -Rob. D.
Hm. Tough question. Let’s consult www.dictionary.com for some answers.
“Class Act” n. (informal) 1.One of distinctive and superior quality. 2. Someone who shows impressive and stylish excellence.
Stylish? Uh oh.
Coach Carr is about as stylish these days as a “Vanilla Ice” haircut. And I’m not sure that 7-5 qualifies as “impressive excellence,” but let’s hold off on my opinion for now and let someone else weigh-in for a minute.
In a recent Detroit Free Press article by Mark Snyder, University of Michigan AD Bill Martin was quoted saying, “Lloyd’s our coach, he’s a fine representative of the University of Michigan.” [See Related Article]
Well, it sounds like Mr. Martin disagrees with you, Rob. Of course, his judgment is based more on his assessment of Carr as a person than as a coach. Which is where I come in. Actually, Rob, I disagree with you, too—but only in part.
Is Lloyd Carr a “classy” individual? Yes. He keeps the program relatively clean and is probably the darling of the Wolverine PR department. Great. Wonderful. Uh, but just one more question:
If he doesn’t win on the field, why should I—or anyone else for that matter—care about what a “class act” he is? That’s always the fatal error in the “class act” argument. It completely discounts and eliminates Carr’s performance on the sideline as a football coach.
Folks, I’m a professional writer. And in my “career” I have received approximately 231 rejection letters (or emails) over six years. But according to Bill Martin, I’m supposed to go back to these publishers and say, “Wait, you don’t understand, I’m a class act. I don’t get in trouble. I read to the blind, elderly woman next door with forty-two cats. I won’t embarrass your company…YOU HAVE TO PUBLISH ME FOR MY DYING, SIAMESE TWIN WHO NEEDS AN OPERATION…PRETTY PLEASE!!!”
The response of the publisher would likely vary somewhere between hysterical laughter and a restraining order. Business is business, people. And the business of sports, simply put, is winning. The sports world is littered with coaches, players, and other athletes who have shown little or no class. Terrell Owens, Larry Brown, Mike Tyson, etc.
We loved them when they were winning though, didn’t we? Until they lost in the Super Bowl, or perhaps in Game 7 of the Finals [editor's note: I have never loved, nor ever will love Larry "It's all about me and my big head" Brown], or got pummeled by Kevin “The Human Footnote” McBride over six rounds.
Look at infamous IU basketball coach Bobby Knight. In 1972 he won the national title with a perfect 32-0 record. Years later, in 1979 he was arrested for assault in Puerto Rico stemming from an argument over the use of a gym. (The governor of Indiana later refused to extradite him.) He followed up with national titles in 1981, 1987 and was elected (on the first try) to the Basketball Hall of Fame with well-documented fines, kickings, chair-tossings all along the way. How did Knight celebrate this accomplishment? In 1992, he drew national media criticism by pretending to hit Calbert Chaney—a black athlete—with a whip!
But true scandal only finds losers, no matter how classy or unclassy they are. And Knight wasn’t actually fired until 2000 for what the school deemed “defiant and hostile” behavior. Sudden “defiant and hostile” behavior is hard for any program to deal with—especially after thirteen years without a national championship team.
Makes you think about how the Michigan Men’s Basketball program would have been different had Chris Webber not called his legendary phantom “Time Out”? Would Steve Fisher have stayed, wrapped in the safe security of a title banner? Would we have ever heard the name of booster Ed Martin? Would the Fab Five still exist, at least, on paper?
Probably. We’ll never know for sure.
If perhaps you think I’m advocating Carr turn as crooked as a red and silver clad recruiter with a non-descript envelope, think again. I’m only stating that in sports, personal character is not what gets you hired or fired. Winning and losing, at the end of the Neil Reed chokehold, is the only measuring stick.
Lastly, Michigan AD Bill Martin said that he has to keep an especially sharp eye on all aspects of the football program because it is an important “economic engine.”
Yep, we wouldn’t want to be stuck with a coach that wasn’t seen as a “class act.” A winning coach always marred in one scandal or another, struggling against admitted NCAA rule violations while recruiting players who are later alleged to be petty criminals. Clearly, a display of poor character would hurt the economic value of the program.
Hold on, Bill, my copy of USA Today’s “Money” Section just arrived.
Gosh! Apparently, Ohio State University was the #1 Money-Making Athletic Program in the Country for 2004-5 topping $89.7 million and second only to Texas in Football Program revenue with $52.8 million taken in. [See Related Article]
ANDREW J. MAURER (AKA Wolf Vereen) is a 2000 graduate of the University of Michigan and a professional writer, having trained at Second City (Detroit) in sketch comedy writing. He also wrote the short-lived comic book series, “Masters Of The Ring” and is the author of two books currently in submission. He is represented by the Richard Henshaw Group of New York, NY.
This article was researched through various sites including www.freep.com, www.dictionary.com, www.nwherald.com, www.espn.com, www.usatoday.com, www.answers.com and www.SI.com
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