As a lifelong Ohio State fan and past student, the phrase “congratulations, University of Michigan Coach Lloyd Carr” just seems… odd to me. Yet, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about the OSU/Michigan rivalry, it’s that there’s always a mutual respect on each side, especially for the shining stars. Props to Bo (rest in peace sir), Desmond, Woodson, and another great coach in Jim Harbaugh (one of the few good things to ever come out of Toledo, Ohio). But when thinking about great Wolverines, Lloyd’s name has to be near the top of the list.
Lloyd started as an assistant for Eastern Michigan, Illinois and WVU before finally landing at Michigan in 1995. He coached under Bo, and later under Gary Moeller, before getting the gig himself as an interim. After going starting the season 8-2 (including wins over ranked squads Virginia and Illinois), Carr landed the position permanently. To put an exclamation point on the deal, his Wolverine squad upset the then-#2 Buckeyes in Ann Arbor.
Lloyd Carr quickly showed that he was no flash in the pan, as he racked up an amazing 122-40 record, winning over 75% of games played during his tenure. His teams NEVER put-up a losing record (you reading this, Rich?), only finished outside of the top 3 in the Big Ten once (a fifth-place in Carr’s 2nd year with the team), and have ended the season in the top-10 of the Coaches Poll and the AP Poll 5 times, only finishing outside of the top-25 once.
1997 was his best season, leading the Wolverines to a 12-0 season, a Rose Bowl win over 10-2 Washington State, anchored by All-Big Ten QB Brian Griese and Heisman Trophy-winning CB Charles Woodson. 2006 would prove to be another great year, going 11-0 leading-up to a showdown with the 11-0 Buckeyes team. You may remember this game… you know, it was just the BEST COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAME EVER PLAYED, that’s all. The untimely death of Coach Schembechler the day before just added to the already-ridiculous emotions running rampant on both sides. Sure, OSU won in thrilling fashion, edging out UM 42-39, but the score really didn’t matter; in my opinion, this game cemented Lloyd Carr’s place among the college football elite, and will be remembered for years to come.
Above all else, Lloyd has always been a great man of integrity. His teams never had any significant NCAA violations during his 13 seasons with UM, something that Jim Tressel certainly can’t say. He is also a huge supporter, both in image and in fundraising, for the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, one of many ways that he helps to support the community.
So again, congratulations, University of Michigan Coach Lloyd Carr – this is a well-deserved honor, and the fact that it was his first ballot goes to show how much he means to Michigan, and to the entire college football world as a whole. Hats off, sir. You are one of the good ones.
The full 2011 class of the College Football Hall of Fame will be announced Tuesday, May 17th.