In most ways, he was the same old Lloyd Carr – sharp, witty and just a bit long-winded.
But at a press conference on Friday, Michigan’s football coach couldn’t completely hide his lingering bitterness and frustration five days after Florida leapfrogged Michigan for a spot in Jan. 8’s Bowl Championship Series National Championship game.
“Certainly from a strictly football standpoint, that was certainly one of the two most disappointing days I’ve had,” Carr said. “Certainly for this team – which is more important – it was a tremendous disappointment. Sometimes, in athletics, in a game, you get a bad bounce and things don’t go your way. One of the great values of sports at any level is you have to learn to accept things when they don’t go your way. And you need to be able to handle the things that do go your way in a way that honors the game.”
Like most Michigan fans, Carr was glued to the television while watching what he termed an “excruciating” UCLA-Southern Cal matchup with recruits last Saturday night.
But the excitement of the Bruins’ victory quickly wore off, when Carr found out at 2:45 p.m. last Sunday that the Wolverines weren’t going to the title game.
“To watch that (UCLA-Southern Cal) game, and watch it wind down . certainly (there was) the euphoria of feeling like we were going to get a chance to play in that (National Championship) game,” Carr said. “Then, less than 24 hours later, finding out . it was an interesting 24 hours, I’ll say that.”
Carr reiterated his opposition to the BCS and expressed support for a 16-team playoff system – which University President Mary Sue Coleman expressed strong opposition to last year. Carr predicted that the eventual implementation of some form of playoff was “inevitable.”
“We’re in a phase of discontent by some people,” Carr said. “There are still a lot of people who do not want a playoff. But I think it’s growing, the number of people who do want one. And I think it will happen.”
The BCS wasn’t the only target of Carr’s ire.
He called CBS announcer Gary Danielson’s side-by-side analysis of Michigan and Florida’s schedules “disingenuous.”
He joked about Ohio State coach Jim Tressel’s notable abstention in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll, stating that coaches “obviously don’t have to vote for somebody.”
He expressed confusion about the inconsistent implementation of the helmet-to-helmet hit rule against quarterbacks, after a Southern Cal defender wasn’t whistled for a hit nearly identical to Michigan linebacker Shawn Crable’s critical personal-foul penalty against Ohio State.
But Carr declined to elaborate on his decision not to publicly campaign for a National Championship berth.
“I don’t really want to get into that,” Carr said. “I did what I thought was right for our team, for this program and for the University of Michigan.”
Notes: Junior running back Mike Hart didn’t make the trip to New York for Dec. 9’s Heisman Trophy presentation. But Heisman voters still noticed his 1,515-yard, 14-touchdown regular-season performance. The Wolverines’ star rusher finished fifth with 214 votes, including five first-place votes. Hart finished behind Ohio State quarterback and Heisman winner Troy Smith (2,540 votes), Arkansas’s Darren McFadden (878), Notre Dame’s Brady Quinn (782) and West Virginia’s Steve Slaton (218).