Startling start to Michigan's season ends with Carr's retirement

11/20/2007 - Michigan Wolverines

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Lloyd Carr alternately choked up and
chuckled for nearly 40 minutes Monday, as he announced his 13th
season as Michigan football coach will be his last.

"I wanted to be able to walk out of here knowing that to the
very last minute, I did my job to the best of my ability," Carr
said with watery eyes. "And I know I'll be able to do that."

The best of Carr's ability brought Michigan a national title and
five Big Ten championships. It also included an unsightly loss to
Appalachian State to open this season and a fourth consecutive
defeat and sixth in seven years to Jim Tressel and Ohio State to
close it.

Many of those memories were very close to the surface at
Monday's news conference during which the public that rarely got to
see his true personality also learned what had happened behind
closed doors the previous day when Carr broke the news to his
players and staff.

"I cried more tears than I knew I had," said Carr, who spent
28 seasons on the Michigan coaching staff. "And I've never laughed
so hard in my life because there were so many memories."

Carr will coach the Wolverines in their bowl game, likely to be
either the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio or the Outback Bowl in Tampa,
Fla. Following the bowl game he will become an associate athletic

The retirement announcement surprised no one.

Last winter, Carr had his contract reworked to pave the way for
this to be his last season and later made sure the school gave his
assistants unprecedented two-year deals.

The only unknown was when the 62-year-old Carr would choose to
step away from the sideline: Monday, as he did, or after the bowl

"My timing is based on one thing, what is best for Michigan
football," he said. "There are no other motives.

"To do it after a bowl game would have been absolutely

The departure opens a job at the nation's winningest football
program and the timing of it might make things uncomfortable for
top-ranked LSU and coach Les Miles.

Miles seems to be at the top of the list in Ann Arbor. He played
for Bo Schembechler at Michigan, where he met his wife and later
became an assistant under Schembechler.

On Monday in Baton Rouge, La., though, Miles insisted he's not
looking for a job and said Michigan has not called him.

"I love LSU," he said.

Even though Miles appears in a great situation leading the
Tigers in a talent-rich area, the school was concerned enough about
him bolting for Michigan 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.

Gerry DiNardo was in a similar situation when he was coaching at
LSU and his alma mater contacted him about its opening a decade

"I told Notre Dame that I didn't want to talk until the season
was over, but each coach is different in how they handle that,"
said DiNardo, who was in Ann Arbor working for the Big Ten Network.
"My advice to Les Miles would be to learn from the Nick Saban saga
and to either tell the truth or don't say anything."

Saban said he had no interest in the Alabama job when it became
vacant nearly a year ago while he was coaching the Miami Dolphins,
then declined comment the next month. After five weeks of denials
and two days of deliberation, Saban bolted to coach the Crimson

Other candidates to replace Carr might include Kirk Ferentz of
Iowa, where Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman was before coming
to Ann Arbor, and major college coaches with Midwest ties such as
Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, a native of Youngstown, Ohio.

An Iowa spokesman said Monday that Ferentz would not comment,
and Stoops dismissed the thought after the Sooners' practice Monday

"That's so foolish," Stoops said. "I've got nothing to do
with that."

Michigan athletic director Bill Martin said he has about 20
candidates in mind and would start his search Monday afternoon.
Martin plans to form a search committee and to ask for Carr's

"I want to get this done as soon as I can," Martin said.

Among other things, Moncay, Carr joked about speculation that
coaching wore him out.

"I'm not tired," he said with a smile. "I may look tired, but
I still have a great passion for the game, for the players and for
the competition. But I also know that there are some things that I
don't have anymore, and so it's time."

Carr had a 121-40 record for a .752 winning percentage, seventh
among active coaches behind Florida State's Bobby Bowden and ahead
of South Carolina's Steve Spurrier.

He is one of eight coaches in Big Ten history with at least five
championships and he never finished lower than third in the

Michigan has lost its last four bowl games, including three Rose
Bowls, the longest postseason skid since Schembechler dropped seven
straight in the 1970s.

"We haven't won a bowl game around here in a while and that
would be a great way to send coach Carr off," receiver Greg Mathews said.

The Wolverines won four straight bowls for the first time in
school history under Carr, starting with the win over Ryan Leaf-led
Washington State in the 1998 Rose Bowl that gave the school its
first national championship in 49 years.

"His legacy in football is unbelievable," Michigan offensive
coordinator Mike DeBord said. "And he did it with integrity. There
has never been an NCAA person come here to question anything about