Carr's future at Michigan rehashed during Ohio State week

Updated: November 13, 2007, 7:51 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The questions coming Lloyd Carr's way -- about Ohio State, and about his future as Michigan coach -- seemed split down the middle. And rightfully so, because the story lines are intertwined.

It's apparent there is more on the line for Carr than a trip to the Rose Bowl as the lead-up to the Wolverines' annual game against the rival Buckeyes on Saturday approaches full throttle.

In some quarters, there is a widely held belief that this is Carr's last season, and the importance of the game for his legacy is apparent. The game doesn't have as much national impact as it did just a week ago, but it's still one of the biggest of Carr's career.

Carr has consistently dodged questions about next year, saying it would be hypocritical if he answered them, and did so again when the topic was broached Monday.

"The only thing on my mind is this game," Carr said, after laughing, during his weekly news conference Monday.

Call It: Woody or Bo

Woody and Bo will be there in more than spirit for Saturday's showdown between Michigan and Ohio State.

A commemorative coin featuring iconic Buckeyes coach Woody Hayes and legendary Wolverines coach Bo Schembechler will be used in the pre-game coin flip at Michigan Stadium.

Schembechler died a day before Ohio State beat Michigan in 2006 in Columbus. Hayes died in 1987.

The coin is being produced by a company owned by former Michigan quarterback John Wangler, who called the rivalry a great one long before Hayes and Schembechler walked the sidelines.

Indeed, Wangler took it to the next level.

-- Associated Press

At this point Michigan, which started the season with losses to Appalachian State and Oregon and lost its first conference game to Wisconsin last week, would gladly accept a trip to Pasadena in January.

If Michigan (8-3, 6-1 Big Ten, No. 21 BCS, No. 23 AP) loses at home, Carr will become the first coach in school history to go 1-6 over a seven-year stretch against No. 7 Ohio State (10-1, 6-1).

Signs have been pointing toward this being the 62-year-old's 13th and final year. Carr altered his contract last December, allowing him to easily make this his final season as coach and still collect deferred compensation. In March, his assistant coaches were given two-year deals to pay them through Feb. 28, 2009, even if they are not coaching at Michigan.

Carr also wasn't interested in talking about his record against Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel on Monday. He did look and sound like he was in a good mood as a week of hype leading up to one of sport's greatest rivalries kicked off.

If Ohio State wins for the fourth straight year and sixth time since Tressel took over in 2001, it will win the conference championship outright and likely land in the Rose Bowl.

Playing for a trip to Pasadena is a step down for Ohio State, which until last week's 28-21 Big Ten loss to Illinois was the front runner to play in the BCS championship game.

Michigan opened the season ranked fifth in The Associated Press Top 25 but quickly fell out of the national championship discussion. Since becoming head coach in 1995, Carr is 121-39 and 81-22 in the Big Ten. He has won five Big Ten titles, one national title and led the Wolverines to a bowl game every season.

Many others, however, have been talking about his possible successor for months, if not years.

LSU coach Les Miles seems to be at the top of the list because he played for the late Bo Schembechler at Michigan. That is where Miles met his wife, and he was an assistant there under Schembechler.

Even though Miles appears to be in a great situation leading the top-ranked Tigers in a talent-rich area of the country, the school seemed concerned enough about him bolting for Ann Arbor that it put a specific clause in his contract to make it an expensive move.

In the "termination by coach" section of his deal, Michigan is the only other school mentioned. It states that Miles will not seek or accept employment as Michigan's coach. If Miles does leave LSU to coach the Wolverines, he must pay LSU $1.25 million.

Michigan's players, meanwhile, are focused on beating the Buckeyes for Carr.

"We want to win it for him," defensive tackle Will Johnson said. "He's taken a lot of criticism. That's his job as a coach, but we represent him."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.