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3:57 am EST 37°F (3°C) in South Rockwood, MI
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I’m still not dead, in spite of my absence here for three weeks. This “weekend” (remember, my work week runs from Wednesday to Sunday, with Monday and Tuesday off) is probably about the least busy time I’ve had since then, and two and a half months of work without a non-“weekend” day off are kinda taking their toll on my desire to do much else. That will change, though, as I have three planned days off within the next three and a half weeks — this Friday to catch up on sleep after a traffic court date, December 16 for a poker night I am hosting, and December 21 for my sister’s graduation from law school.
An era that lasted two or three years too long came to an end last Monday, as Lloyd Carr announced his retirement from the head football coaching position at the University of Michigan. Hell, it was all the way back in January 2005, after the Rose Bowl, that I could kinda tell Lloyd didn’t really have it anymore; but he stuck around long enough to subject us to 11 more losses, with a 12th possible (dare I say likely?) in this year’s upcoming bowl game. While some of the losses were perhaps to be expected, such as the three of those 11 that came to Ohio State, some were truly unthinkable and beneath a program of Michigan’s (now-former) caliber — the 2005 Minnesota game and this year’s Appalachian State and Oregon games immediately come to mind. (Before Oregon fans go ape-shit on me for that comment, it’s not merely losing to Oregon that is beneath Michigan — it’s losing to Oregon by 32 points.)
Go ahead and accuse me of playing amateur psychologist, but I see the same sort of “father complex” in Lloyd Carr that Justin Frank pointed out in Chimpy in his book Bush On The Couch. In much the same way that one of Chimpy’s great motivators in the illegal occupation of Iraq’s oil wells is a morbid fear that he can never live up to his father’s example, Lloyd seems to have this deathly fear that people will recognize he can never live up to the standard set by Bo Schembechler. The artificially-sunny outlook in spite of everything falling apart (“Nothing can get me down — not a loss to Appalachian State, not a loss to Oregon, not the loss of my job”) and the how-dare-you-question-me attitude (“What kind of a stupid question is that?” to ABC’s Todd Harris at halftime of the 2003 Ohio State game), as well as the tendency to make statements that are just plain weird (“… it’s a wet rain” to ESPN’s Lisa Salters at halftime against the Buckeyes 10 days ago), are all things we have repeatedly seen from Chimpy.
This “father complex” generally makes those men who suffer from it act like petulant, whiny children whenever they aren’t given absolutely free rein to do as they please. Often times, as in Chimpy’s case, it has to do with feelings of inadequacy when comparing oneself to one’s own father, but in Lloyd’s case, it has more to do with the man who can be called the father of modern Michigan football. I get that Lloyd and Bo were close friends both during and after the 1980-90 period in which Lloyd was one of Bo’s assistants, but that doesn’t mean that Lloyd has to run the damn program exactly to Bo’s specifications. The lack of speed on this year’s team made it painfully clear that Lloyd is still stuck in Bo’s 1970s “three yards and a cloud of dust” mentality, which was great back then but now belongs next to the T formation in the ash-heap of history. The old adage that speed kills proved 100% true this season.
If you ask me, we would do far better to go out and look for the best coach we can find, rather than to stay stuck in the Bo mentality and hire somebody just because he is a “Michigan man.” All the talk is about Les Miles of Louisiana State, who played for Bo back in the ‘70s and has a Michigan-specific buyout clause in his LSU contract. However, I would have to think there are other equally viable and perhaps better candidates aside from the ones most commonly mentioned like Miles and Jeff Tedford of California. I admit this idea is cribbing off Ohio State a little bit, but why don’t we do what they did and bring in a proven winner from a lower-division school in the same state?
My idea is to go after Chuck Martin of Grand Valley State University, who has won 39 consecutive games and the last two national championships with that Division II institution just outside Grand Rapids in Allendale, MI. The concept has worked to near-perfection for Ohio State, which hired Jim Tressel away from in-state Division I-AA Youngstown State University; Tressel had won four I-AA national championships between 1991 and 1997 at YSU. Perhaps Michigan could also go after Martin’s predecessor at GVSU, Brian Kelly, who has since moved on to the University of Cincinnati after three years spent resurrecting the football program at Central Michigan University; Kelly won consecutive D-II championships of his own in 2002-03 at GVSU. It might be better to give these coaches a shot instead of simply coronating Les Miles for no other reason than the fact that he is “a Michigan man.”
Among the other major events of the last three weeks, besides Lloyd’s blowing the Wisconsin and Ohio State games, were a Thanksgiving dinner with my parents and sister — actually held three nights early, on Monday the 19th — and my first date in years, exactly two weeks ago. The guy from that date has pretty much fallen off the face of the earth, though; if I’m not worth even three minutes of his time to tell me he decided he isn’t interested, then as far as I’m concerned, he isn’t worth my time either. I can handle being told no, as I am a big boy now at 27, but this avoidance shit just gets on my nerves.
My old cell phone, the purchase of which was mentioned here three years ago, more or less completely died a few Sundays ago, specifically on Veterans’ Day (November 11). It started to spontaneously shut itself off, and after a while, it got to where I couldn’t even get it to stay on for more than a minute. The problem appeared to be the data cable through the flip hinge; a later impromptu dismantling of the phone revealed that the cable was starting to fray and sever. In any event, after a few fits and starts, which included a disastrous two days with a Samsung M300, I now have a kick-ass phone — Motorola’s RAZR2 V9m. I’ve also acquired a bunch of toys for it, from the car charger to a data cable to a Bluetooth headset.
Well, in about a day, I’ll be back into work for two days, then off Friday as I mentioned above, then working another two.