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Lloyd Carr still upset about 1997 national title split with Nebraska

Lloyd Carr AP

Former Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr still has an ax to grind with Nebraska. To be fair, the issue is not directly with Nebraska, who split a national championship in the 1997 season with Carr’s Wolverines, but with the coaches who voted in the coaches poll at the end of that season.

Michigan completed a perfect season with a victory in the Rose Bowl to win the Associated Press national championship. Meanwhile, Nebraska put together their own undefeated season with a victory over Tennessee in the Orange Bowl to win the coaches poll national championship. The winner of the coaches poll gets to take home to crystal ball trophy as well. In a recent interview, Carr looked back on how he was informed of the split national title.

“I got a phone call the day after Nebraska played Tennessee (in the Orange Bowl), and I had stayed in Los Angeles (after the Rose Bowl) for recruiting, and I got that phone call that said ‘coach you just won the national championship from The Associated Press,’ ” Carr recalled in a television interview, according to “And I knew, based on what we had done (that we would win the AP national title), and I fully expected to win the coaches’ vote.”

Carr, of course, was wrong about that.

“(But) it was explained to me that we had lost and the way the balloting ended up, one coach voted us fourth or two coaches voted us third,” Carr explained. “I didn’t tell the team that, I didn’t want them to dwell on negatives. But I was extremely bothered by it and I still am.”

Having a championship ring likely helps Carr cope with the results of that season, and some may suggest the AP national title is more meaningful than the coaches poll anyway. Still, Carr probably sits at home some days and wonders “What if?” He may want to avoid simulating that match-up on In ten simulations between the 1997 Michigan and Nebraska teams on a neutral field, Nebraska won six times.

Michigan and Nebraska missed out on being able to settle the score on the field by one season. The Bowl Coalition that had transformed to the Bowl Alliance just after Penn State and Nebraska each ran the table in the 1994 season morphed in to the Bowl Championship Series for the 1998 season. Had the system been put in place one year earlier, the Wolverines and Huskers would have been paired up in a BCS National Championship Game, instead of Michigan being locked in to playing the Pac 10 champion in the Rose Bowl.

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39 Responses to “Lloyd Carr still upset about 1997 national title split with Nebraska”
  1. chinahand11 says: Mar 4, 2014 11:14 AM

    I’m not crazy about Michigan, but he has a point. Playoffs have been going on for how many years in Div 2?

  2. brianincbus says: Mar 4, 2014 11:19 AM

    Shut up Lllloyd, go back to chasing Smurfs around!

  3. dietrich43 says: Mar 4, 2014 11:28 AM

    He should be upset, Michigan got robbed. I remember the talking heads saying it was fair the ‘split’ the title with Nebraska since they were both undefeated. These were the same talking heads that 3 years prior, said that Nebraska shouldn’t have to ‘split’ the title with Penn State because they had led in both polls going into the bowl games. It was a bad system, and the BCS was an imperfect improvement.

    About time they got around to a playoff system. I would like to see all the division champs in the mix though; that would give every team the ability to ‘win all their games’ and win a national title.

  4. chunkala says: Mar 4, 2014 11:40 AM

    If people really wanted to split them thats fine but two things always bothered me about this:
    1) Remember Nebraska had to beat Missouri in OT after an illegally kicked pass ended up in the another receiver’s hands. Michigan didnt need any extra time to defeat any of its opponents.
    2) Michigan receiving 3rd and 4th place votes was ridiculous. I believe if those votes were switched to 2nd place, then Michigan would have been the solo champ.

  5. kenpocras says: Mar 4, 2014 11:46 AM

    Pure sour grapes

  6. eagles512 says: Mar 4, 2014 12:15 PM

    Can’t blame. The bigger robbery was 94. Penn St would have crushed Nebraska.

  7. robmacky says: Mar 4, 2014 12:20 PM

  8. huskerguy says: Mar 4, 2014 12:46 PM

    Huskers crushed Peyton Manning led Vols… Michigan played a close Wash St game.

    Split is fine with me. Oh… And Michigan barely beat an unranked Irish team too. So that wipes out the “barely beat Mizzou” stupidity.

  9. raiderfan77 says: Mar 4, 2014 12:52 PM

    The 97 Nebraska team was superior to the 97 Tennessee team, the 97 Michigan team, and a handful of 97 NFL teams.

    The injustice is that Michigan was awarded a share at all.

  10. manik56 says: Mar 4, 2014 12:53 PM

    Ask ’94 Penn State how unfair split titles are. Be happy for what you have LLLLLoyd. If you want more, cone out of retirement.

  11. devnet says: Mar 4, 2014 1:15 PM

    Enough said.

  12. normtide says: Mar 4, 2014 1:18 PM

    What’s the lesson here? At that time, people wanted the BCS to clean up this kind of mess. It was welcomed just like the playoff is now. How long before a 4 team playoff will be hated? People will be wanting an 8 team playoff, then 16, then 32. I am very happy with the playoff system, as long as the committee is fair. But, the #5 team and it’s fans will feel just like the #3 team and fans did the last few years. Nothing will be perfect. I do think a smaller top tier division will be needed. Way too many teams for just a 12 game season.

  13. barkleyblows says: Mar 4, 2014 2:23 PM

    Haha I think this was the last time Michigan had a football team. Go blow!!

  14. irishdodger says: Mar 4, 2014 2:37 PM

    A split title is still more than Bo Schembechler ever won.

  15. irishdodger says: Mar 4, 2014 2:41 PM

    This is one of hundreds of examples as to why the Coaches Poll is & always has been a fraud. It’s a passive-aggressive way for head coaches to hold grudges & grind axes. I’d be curious where Coach Osbourne voted Michigan as well as where Coach Carr voted Nebraska.

    As an Irish fan, I remember hearing that Coach Bowden voted a one-loss Irish team somewhere around 12th in the poll after the bowls in 1993. That was the year ND gave FSU their only loss yet did not have to split the NC. If true, that’s classless. I’d say the same thing if Holtz did it.

  16. blackshirtz says: Mar 4, 2014 2:49 PM

    I trust the coaches over the media!

    That Crystal trophy sure looks good down at Memorial Stadium.

    I would be happy to send Lloyd Carr a picture if he misses it so much!

  17. mplshusker says: Mar 4, 2014 4:18 PM

    The Big 10, INCLUDING Michigan, voted to go to ‘lock themselves in’ to Rose Bowl. Tradition don’t ya know. Like the Powerball commercials say, you can’t win if you don’t play.

  18. txspartan95 says: Mar 4, 2014 4:30 PM

    I agree with Lloyd that there should be no controversy. His team was a clear 2nd fiddle and should not be able to claim any portion of the national title.

  19. irishdodger says: Mar 4, 2014 5:27 PM


    I don’t necessarily trust either, but the media can be held accountable when it comes to their reputation. Coaches simply vote against teams that are either not in their conference or that have the potential of negatively affecting their own team’s ranking.

    While we never go to see Michigan & Nebraska square off, I think the article noted that Nebraska would be the likely victor. Plus, they were on a dynasty-type run. Osbourne had the Huskers at an all-time high….3 NC in 4 years!

  20. mynameisbob says: Mar 4, 2014 6:00 PM

    chunkala says: Mar 4, 2014 11:40 AM

    If people really wanted to split them thats fine but two things always bothered me about this:
    1) Remember Nebraska had to beat Missouri in OT after an illegally kicked pass ended up in the another receiver’s hands. Michigan didnt need any extra time to defeat any of its opponents.

    >> No, they just needed the clock to run out early on Washington State in the Rose Bowl so that they didn’t have one more chance to pass into the end zone from inside the 20.

    2) Michigan receiving 3rd and 4th place votes was ridiculous. I believe if those votes were switched to 2nd place, then Michigan would have been the solo champ.

    >> Wrong, Nebraska had 32 first place votes to Michigan’s 30, so Michigan still finishes 2 points behind instead of 4.

    >> I’m sure somebody is going to bring up Scott Frost’s post game plea to voters. Compare that to Keith Jackson letting Bob Griese (father of the Michigan QB) go on and on about Michigan’s “championship” win. Puke-worthy.

  21. hor2012 says: Mar 4, 2014 7:00 PM

    Let’s be honest if Neb would have played Michigan that year the Cornhuskers would have killed them. Neb was the best team in the nation that year and I’m a LSU fan.

  22. footballnut85 says: Mar 4, 2014 7:07 PM

    Go away Lloyd you whiny old man!

  23. mikeyj73 says: Mar 4, 2014 7:23 PM

    Gobble, gobble Lloyd!! More crying from _ichigan!!
    But, Big Ten dropped ball when they committed to Rose Bowl.

  24. justicemann says: Mar 4, 2014 8:02 PM

    You have got to be kidding. Michigan struggled to beat Washington State in the Rose Bowl. Nebraska blew out #3 Tennessee who had Payton Manning in the Orange Bowl.

    The AP votes on population center’s the coaches on the best team. Nebraska would have destroyed Michigan, sad they didn’t play. These days, sadly it’s all about the almighty $ in college sports.

  25. derekgorgonstar says: Mar 4, 2014 8:26 PM

    Phil Fulmer voted Michigan #4 because he was mad Woodson won the Heisman over Manning. Bush league.

  26. ducksk says: Mar 4, 2014 9:03 PM

    Dearest Lloyd: has been. 3 words. Get over it.

  27. pugsley927 says: Mar 4, 2014 9:13 PM

    He should be happy, Huskers would have buried meeeeechigan in 97

  28. normtide says: Mar 4, 2014 9:17 PM

    I think Nebraska would probably have won, but it’s football. Like boxing, you don’t really know how each will deal with the other’s style until the square off.

    As for polls. The media is much more accurate. Journalists have the time to watch many more games than coaches do. That is, except when it comes to Notre Dame for some reason… On Mar 4, 2014 8:13 PM, “CollegeFootballTalk” wrote:

    > pugsley927 commented: “He should be happy, Huskers would have buried > meeeeechigan in 97”

  29. cincyfredo says: Mar 4, 2014 10:45 PM

    No question about it, Ohio State voted Michigan #4.

  30. bender4700 says: Mar 4, 2014 10:59 PM

    Michigan you couldn’t beat Ryan “Don’t Talk Back To Me” Leaf without the refs help.

    Nebraska beat the snot out of the SEC’s best team. By today’s standards, Nebraska was good enough for the NFL.

    But really, Nebraska was the better team, proved it all year. Take Missouri away and Nebraska only has a close game to Colorado. They BEAT THE HELL out of A&M in the EXTRA game they had to play. Beat Peyton Manning who too was hoping for a title.

    Michigan needs to get over it. They can’t handle they haven’t been on top of the mountain in soooooo long that the only time they are, they want to be alone. Nebraska openly cheered for a split title. Husker fans were happy with that, players, coaches were ok with it, the only people upset are the stupid Michiganders who can’t remember history right.

    You needed the REFS HELP TO BEAT WASHINGTON STATE. Nebraska KICKED THE CRAP OUT OF PEYTON! Seriously. Are you that dumb!!?!?!?

  31. bender4700 says: Mar 4, 2014 11:00 PM

    Plus, Michigan played early in the day, most of the AP’s votes were cast before Nebraska played the NUMBER THREE TEAM IN THE NATION!

  32. sjoeld77 says: Mar 5, 2014 12:08 AM

    With one more win, Nebraska deserves national title

    (c) 1998 Copyright

    1998 Scripps Howard

    MIAMI (Jan 2, 1998 – 05:12 EST) — If Nebraska beats Tennessee in the Orange Bowl by the margin the odds makers say it should, then the Cornhuskers should win the national championship. They wont, but they should.

    Too many voters are too reluctant to drop a winning team. And that’s unfortunate for Nebraska.

    In voting unbeaten Michigan over unbeaten Nebraska for the last third of the season, I based that first-place vote, in part, on Michigan’s tougher schedule. The bowl games have changed my perspective.

    The Big Ten was overrated. That became more evident with every bowl game: Michigan State lost to Washington 51-23. Iowa lost to Arizona State 17-7. Wisconsin lost to Georgia 33-6. Penn State lost to Florida 21-6. Ohio State lost to Florida State 31-14. Purdue, which Michigan didn’t play, was the only other Big Ten winner (33-20 over Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl).

    Michigan’s opponents, five Big Ten teams and Notre Dame, went 0-6 in the bowls.

    Nebraska’s opponents went 2-2 in the bowls. Washington and Kansas State won; Missouri and Texas A&M lost.

    Here’s what I jotted down on a notepad after Michigan’s 21-16 Rose Bowl victory over Washington State: Records: If Nebraska beats UT in the Orange Bowl, it will be 13-0. Michigan is 12-0.

    Opponents: If Nebraska beats UT, its opponents record will be 76-74; Michigan’s opponents are 74-67.

    Dominance: Nebraska outscored its opponents by 30.7 points per game; Michigan outscored its opponents by 17 points per 

    More dominance: Nebraska outscored its opponents with winning records by 23.6. Michigan outscored its opponents with winning records by 10.8 points.

    It’s too easy to say Michigan was No. 1 and won its game, so it should stay No. 1. That’s not the way the system is supposed to work. Our archaic method of choosing a college football champion is based on style points. Nebraska lost style points because it beat Missouri in overtime and beat Colorado by three after leading by 17 late in the game.

    However, against good teams, Nebraska, not Michigan, has been more stylish. The Cornhuskers beat 11-1 Kansas State by 30 points. They beat Washington by 13. They beat Texas A&M by 39 points just three weeks ago.

    In Thursday’s Cotton Bowl, those same Aggies almost upset a UCLA team that had won nine consecutive games. Don’t forget that Michigan only beat Notre Dame by seven points, Iowa by four and Wisconsin by 10. Its most-convincing victory was against Penn State, which for much of the year was the most-overrated team in the country.

    Michigan deserves tremendous credit for an unbeaten season. But if Nebraska plays well in beating Tennessee, it deserves the national title.

    With one more win, Nebraska deserves national championship.

    By JOHN ADAMS, Scripps Howard News Service

    In Addition:

    Michigan  average score – 26.8 –  9.5                                                                                                                           
    Nebraska average score – 46.7 – 16.5

    Michigan opponents ranked in final polls – 3 – at #s 9,12,16 (AP)                                                                                  
    Nebraska opponents ranked in final polls – 5 – at #s 7, 8, 18, 20, 23 (AP)

  33. normtide says: Mar 5, 2014 12:42 AM

    Maybe just post a link next time?

  34. beanocook says: Mar 5, 2014 1:32 AM

    So lemme get this straight, Michigan thinks beating Ryan Leaf by 5 is more impressive than killing Peyton Manning by 25? LOL

    Scott Frost was drafted 24 slots higher than Brian Greise

  35. jeffreyperria says: Mar 5, 2014 6:55 AM

    Is that the year Nebraska got the win on a last second kick the ball up in the air and catch in the end zone. Either way I am a um fan, and I agree with the tie. Both teams,we’re undefeated.

  36. 7achilles7 says: Mar 5, 2014 11:31 AM

    Seriously?? Michigan should be glad they got a share. Look at all the undisputed evidence in the 1998 Scripps Howard column above. The Vegas odds makers even had Nebraska as a 10 point favorite over Michigan on a neutral field. Experts have beaten this dead horse for years. Michigan struggled in its final game against the #16 ranked Huskies and needed a bad call at the end of the game to hold off a possible winning touchdown by Ryan Leaf. Yes, Leaf clearly spiked the ball with 1 second left on the clock. Fortunately for Michigan, the Rose Bowl did NOT use the same officiating crew that the Big XII used in the 2009 Big XII Championship Game where they put 1 second back on the clock for Colt McCoy and Texas to kick the winning field goal against Nebraska. Meanwhile, Nebraska beat down the Peyton Manning led #3 Tennessee Volunteers in a display of total domination. Based on fickle voters’ tendencies to drop teams that struggle in a game (Nebraska dropped from #1 after a lucky tipped ball was caught for a game winning TD versus Missouri in overtime), Michigan dropped in the coaches poll given the same perception.

    Bottom line Lloyd, both teams finished undefeated and with no framework for them to play head to head and settle it on the field, both teams deserve a share of the title. Stop complaining and whining and be glad it worked out for Michigan the way it did versus a debate where the totality of the evidence presented clearly shows why Nebraska should have been the undisputed National Champion that year.

  37. amosalanzostagg says: Mar 7, 2014 5:54 PM

    What was true in the past is true today….

    Isn’t the B1G (and ND) always over rated in football?

    “The Big Ten was overrated. That became more evident with every bowl game: Michigan State lost to Washington 51-23. Iowa lost to Arizona State 17-7. Wisconsin lost to Georgia 33-6. Penn State lost to Florida 21-6. Ohio State lost to Florida State 31-14. Purdue, which Michigan didn’t play, was the only other Big Ten winner (33-20 over Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl).”

    “Michigan’s opponents, five Big Ten teams and Notre Dame, went 0-6 in the bowls.”

    Somethings never change. Sort of like the self fulfilling prophecy for the B1G in football, “You keep doing the same thing over and over again, you get the same results.”


  38. latrobe21 says: Mar 9, 2014 2:28 PM

    and Penn State would have killed Nebraska in ’94. Sometimes. Lloyd, life just ain’t fair.

  39. iwishwvuwouldbeatbama says: Mar 11, 2014 12:18 PM

    Lloyd Carr, cant help to feel bad for him the way he went out and all, but the split is fair. As for Michigan they were quick to force Carr out, then they were really quick forcing Richrod out, and now that rods team is gone Hoke cant win with his own. This is what hasty decisions lead to, you made your bed now lay in it.

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