CHICAGO – When someone says there’s good news and there’s bad news, chances are that the bad news trumps the good.
Last Tuesday was no different.
That afternoon, Michigan coach Lloyd Carr casually met with reporters before his press conference at Big Ten Media Day in Chicago. The topic of Antonio Bass came up, and the 12-year coach responded optimistically.
“He’s doing extremely well,” Carr said of the sophomore wide receiver. “The knee is coming along really well. Rehab’s gone extremely well.”
But the upbeat tone of his previous response was trumped by what followed.
“There is a test that they’re going to take in the next couple of weeks involving another issue,” Carr said.
The “other issue” Carr referred to is believed to still be knee-related.
“It’s an important test in terms of his future as an athlete,” Carr said. “The test is going to clarify that issue.”
Carr went on to say that regardless of the results of the pending test, Bass has no intention on playing this season. Last spring, Carr said that he could not rule out the possibility of Bass’s return.
The Jackson native originally injured his knee in a conditioning drill prior to spring practice. He had showed signs of explosiveness as a true freshman last season, displaying great open-field speed and awareness. Carr had said that he hoped to give Bass some snaps at quarterback in an attempt to open up the Michigan offense.
But instead of “when will he return,” the new question Carr keeps hearing has become, “will he return?”
Eye am innocent: Carr broke his silence on the pending lawsuit between a former Big Ten official and the conference.
The complaint filed by the former official claimed that a member of the media alerted Carr that there was an official in the Big Ten who was legally blind in one eye and was still officiating.
Even though Carr did admit that he made a call to commissioner Jim Delaney, he said that was basically the only truthful part of the complaint.
“Somewhere, following the 2004 season, I received a call from a Big Ten official who asked me if I was aware, or if the coaches were aware, of that issue,” Carr said, saying it was another official that alerted him of the situation, not a member of the media. “He proceeded to tell me that there were some major issues regarding this. His comment to me was to the effect that if the media got a hold of it, it was going to become a major embarrassment to the conference, if it occurred where a call was made that might impact a game.
“So following that conversation, I called the commissioner. I called him because I felt I had an obligation as a member of this conference to call him.”
Carr went on to say that when he talked to Delaney, he did so in a manner that was intended only to alert him of the situation, and that he did not tell him what he thought of the issue at all. Carr said the perception that he cost the official his job couldn’t be further from the truth.
Delaney declined to comment at the press conference Tuesday, citing pending legal proceedings as the reason for his silence. He did go on to say that the fired official was offered different jobs on the same pay scale after he was let go as an official, but declined those jobs.
Freshmen surprises: Carr shed some light on a few position battles, too. When it came to the backup quarterback position, Carr discussed David Cone’s arrival this summer and working out with the team.
“Certainly, he’s going to get some reps because of the numbers at that position,” Carr said of the true freshman. “The experience that (sophomore) Jason Forcier has had over the year certainly gives him a great advantage there. Jason did some very good things in the spring. He’s made some progress. My guess would be, it will be Forcier (as the backup quarterback to begin the season).”
Another freshman who will likely see some reps in practice is running back Carlos Brown. Brown enrolled in classes last January and went through spring practice with the squad. Carr said he could possibly see some snaps at quarterback, and may also be a part of the kick return game.
Carr also mentioned in his press conference that true freshman Steve Schilling could possibly compete for a starting spot on the offensive line.
Notes: Jerome Jackson, one of the three Wolverines tied to the derogatory rap song “Measly Penny” last spring, is on the 2006 Michigan roster. Carr said he will be a part of the running game this season. The other two involved, walk-ons Tyrone Jordan and Landon Smith are also still with the team . . . The first edition of the coaches poll was unveiled Friday, with Michigan slated as No. 15. It is the lowest ranking the Wolverines have started a season with since 1985.