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10:14 pm EST 37°F (3°C) in Chelsea, MA
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The time has most certainly come now to fire Lloyd Carr as the University of Michigan’s head football coach. Ohio State came into Ann Arbor earlier today and shoveled the final few piles of shit on a mediocre Michigan football season by winning 25-21, coming back from a 21-12 deficit with nine minutes left in the game to win it. The loss not only wasted Michigan’s four-game winning streak that even allowed the Wolverines to remain in championship contention until today, but also likely took them out of a New Year’s Day bowl game altogether.
Let me state the most damning pieces of evidence that cry out for Carr to be replaced:
This list accounts for four of Michigan’s last five losses, the exception being the September 10, 2005 loss to Notre Dame; the Wolverines never held a lead at all against the Irish that day. I mean, losing isn’t quite so bad when either (a) you suck compared to your opponent, and you never had a lead at all, or (b) a game that stays very close with several lead changes back and forth doesn’t go your way in the end, but when you have a two-score or greater lead late and you implode, that is infuriating and frankly unacceptable.
Even worse yet, Carr is now 1-4 against his counterpart at Ohio State, Jim Tressel. Granted, Carr went 5-1 against John Cooper in Cooper’s last six years at OSU (1995-2000), so he is still over .500 at 6-5; but after six consecutive wins over the Buckeyes in Ann Arbor from 1989-99, Michigan has now lost two of the last three meetings in the Big House. In spite of his overall success, OSU fired Cooper following the 2000 season largely because of his 2-10-1 career mark against Michigan, including 2-4-1 in Columbus; it is about time for Michigan to do likewise. My patience is wearing very thin with Carr at this point.
That said, this season comes to an end at 7-4, with a likely bowl invitation still to come. It’s nice to have had the four-game winning streak against most of the other primary Big Ten contenders down the stretch, and it’s nice to be the only team to have beaten conference champion Penn State, but in the end, none of that means squat with this loss to Ohio State. Chances are the bowl invitation will be to the Alamo Bowl, although the Outback Bowl is a possibility should Ohio State snag an at-large invitation to a BCS game.
The problems seemed to be the same all season long: as I predicted back on September 6, the secondary turned out to be the weak link of the defense, and I can think of at least two game-winning drives by opponents this year on which the secondary got torched. The front seven was serviceable, but couldn’t do a lot to stop teams with exceptional running attacks. The offense certainly didn’t play up to expectations, although Mario Manningham turned out to be a pleasant surprise — but next year, without Steve Breaston and Jason Avant, the entire offense is basically going to have to revolve around Manningham, running back Mike Hart, and quarterback Chad Henne. They are decent players, but unless they become mega-stars next year, the offense is going to be at least one big weapon short of truly scaring anybody. The special-teams units did what they needed to do for the most part, particularly in the kicking game; Garrett Rivas on field goals and point-after tries, and Ross Ryan punting and kicking off, combined to form an effective duo, with Rivas hitting some clutch field goals when he was called upon in those situations.
For some reason, I’m feeling as though my brain is unusually fried tonight, so for lack of any other coherent thought, that’s it for this update.