Sep 1, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit on the set of ESPN College Gameday before the game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Michigan Wolverines at Cowboys Stadium. Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

How Michigan's football program fell from grace--Part 1: Carr's exit

Dec 26, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines former head coach Lloyd Carr on the field prior to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl between the Bowling Green Falcons and Pittsburgh Panthers at Ford Field. Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Before the 2007 season  Lloyd Carr decided to retire as head coach of the Michigan football program.

Carr, who spent 28 years with the Wolverines, held the head coaching job for 13 seasons, winning five Big Ten titles and a co-national championship all while compiling a 122-40 (.753) record.

Unfortunately Carr’s legacy became tainted late in his career, dropping the 2007 home opener to FCS Appalachian State, and  losing six of the final seven games to arch-rival Ohio State.

2007 season would be Carr’s last

Carr and athletic director Bill Martin knew of the impending retirement since they reworked the coach’s contract the preceeding winter, giving Carr’s assistants two-year contracts and paving the way for 2007 to be his last season.

Theoretically, Martin and his “search committee” could have spent the summer scouring  the coaching landscape  for Carr’s replacement.

Although practically everyone in the Michigan family figured the only real candidate was LSU head coach and former Michigan letterman Les Miles.

Martin might have landed his “Michigan Man” but the key meeting couldn’t be scheduled until after the SEC championship game against Tennessee.

Herbstreit fumbles

ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit, who once played quarterback for the Buckeyes, broke a story the morning of the SEC title game saying Miles going to Michigan was a done deal.

Herbstreit eventually had egg all over his face,  since Miles had just signed an extension to his contract and was going to announce it at 1:45 pm, just before the SEC title game with Tennessee.

Miles was not exactly thrilled because he was forced to squash this rumor to his team before a championship game. Negotiations might have been tougher since LSU beat Tennessee, sending the Tigers to the national championship game against Ohio State.

Miles deal botched

Martin, who was not a football man per se, took the Michigan AD job in August of 2000 to improve the athletic campus’s infrastructure. His work is this regard is outstanding.

The baseball and football fields, the soccer fields, Crisler Center and the Michigan Stadium expansion all came out of Martin’s offices.

So to blame Martin for botching the Miles deal is not totally fair.

“Times have changed and they (Michigan) made all the right moves.” said Keith Johnson, a long-time Michigan supporter.

“Remember, they hadn’t hired a coach from outside the program since 1969.”

Seventeen days after the Herbstreit debacle, Michigan hired Rich Rodriguez,  a different kettle of fish. ♦

Part II: Rodriguez, defense and the NCAA

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Joel Greer


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