Lloyd Carr, the third-winningest coach in Michigan football history, is stepping down after 13 seasons as the Wolverines’ head coach.
Carr told his team and staff yesterday at a private afternoon meeting that he is retiring at the end of this season.
The official announcement is expected come this morning at a 10 a.m. press conference held at the Junge Champions Center.
“He was just real sad – you could tell he was real sad,” wide receiver Adrian Arrington said. “He was teary-eyed, real emotional. So it just showed that he was hurting. It was a hard decision for him obviously.”
The 62-year-old coach, who replaced Gary Moeller in 1995, has posted a 121-40 record. His final game as head coach will be the team’s bowl game.
In just his third year as head coach, Carr led the Wolverines to their first National Championship in nearly half a century – a feat legendary coach Bo Schembechler never accomplished.
The top candidate to replace Carr seems to be a man with Michigan ties – which is not surprising because every head coach after Schembechler had worked under him.
Les Miles, head coach for No. 1-ranked Louisiana State and a former assistant at Michigan, is believed by many to be atop Michigan’s wish list.
With Carr’s announcement seven weeks before the end of Louisiana State’s season, some think that’s too long for Michigan to wait to go after Miles.
Athletic Director Bill Martin plans to talk to Carr for input on a replacement. But Martin also said it’s his call on who will become Michigan’s fourth coach in the past 40 years.
“I would certainly talk to him about it. I’d be crazy not to with his knowledge of coaches in this country,” Martin said after Saturday’s 14-3 loss to Ohio State, before Carr’s plans to retire were revealed. “Ultimately the buck stops with me, and I make the final decision.”
When talking about qualities for a successor, Martin joked he wouldn’t deviate much from the current regime.
“If I had to replace Lloyd, I’d want to clone him,” Martin said.
After going 5-1 in his first six games against rival Ohio State, Carr is just 1-6 in his last seven against the Buckeyes.
The Wolverines made a bowl game each year under Carr’s tutelage, but have just a 5-7 mark in them.
Martin dealt with the rigors of a high-profile coaching turnover last season when he hired basketball coach John Beilein after firing Tommy Amaker. Like the basketball coaching search, Martin is expected to cast a wide net for potential candidates.
Michigan’s entire coaching staff is under contract through next season, something Martin and Carr mutually agreed upon as a way to bring stability to the program. If the new coach decided to go a different direction with assistants, Martin would have to buy out the contracts of those leaving.
Whoever fills in for Carr will have big shoes to fill.
“It’s not all about wins and losses, but if you look at the overall winning percentage at Michigan, you’ll see that he’s improved it over his 13 years,” Martin said. “This is the best program in the country over a century. If we have to move on, then I’m going to make certain that whoever we bring in is somebody that can sustain the record that Lloyd has.”
– Daniel Bromwich and Jack Herman contributed to this report.