Michigan still doesn’t know who will coach it in its first game next season, but at least it now knows where Lloyd Carr will coach his last one.
In a matchup between two teams embroiled in a National Championship controversy last year, the Wolverines will play No. 9 Florida in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando at 1 p.m. on New Year’s Day.
“Certainly for this team, we’ve had some obstacles and we’ve had some difficult times, but it is a group of outstanding leadership in that senior class,” said Carr, who will lead the Wolverines into their NCAA-leading 33rd straight bowl game. “For me, certainly, I’ll just be one of them, one of the guys that will be involved in his last game at Michigan. So we’re all, I think, looking forward to that.”
Michigan (6-2 Big Ten, 8-4 overall) was invited after Illinois accepted a bid to play in its first Rose Bowl since 1984.
No. 1 Ohio State will play a Les Miles-coached Louisiana State team in the National Championship game.
Although Michigan’s coaching search will receive the most interest leading up to the game, last year’s bowl situation makes for an interesting subplot. Florida jumped Michigan the final week of the season to move into the National Championship Game against Ohio State.
A number of voters seemed to make an effort to put Florida in the title game, dropping Michigan artificially low in the rankings. One voter in the Harris poll ranked the one-loss Gators first on his ballot, ahead of undefeated Ohio State.
Last year, Carr not-so-subtly criticized Florida coach Urban Meyer’s actions leading up to the final vote.
“I just think that based on some of the comments the Florida coach has made in the last two weeks – campaigning strenuously for a berth in the championship game – and making some statements about Michigan that I think were inappropriate,” Carr said on “Michigan Replay” last year before the BCS standings were released.
Florida beat Ohio State, 41-14, to win the title. In to the Rose Bowl, Michigan fell 32-18 to Southern Cal.
But Carr had nothing but praise for Meyer during a conference call with reporters last night.
“He’s one of the guys that I’ve always liked and a guy that represents all the positive things in college football,” Carr said.
Michigan won the teams’ only previous meeting, 38-30, in the 2003 Outback Bowl. It also marks the last time Michigan won a postseason game.
To send Carr off with his sixth bowl win, the Wolverines will have to stop a Florida team (5-3 Southeastern Conference, 9-3 overall) led by Heisman Trophy frontrunner Tim Tebow.
Luckily for them, Chad Henne and Mike Hart will play, Carr said.
This is the first time since 2001 Michigan has played in the Capital One (then the Capital One Florida Citrus Bowl). The Wolverines lost 45-17 to Tennessee.