During Rich Rodriguez‘s three-year reign of abominable football in tradition-rich Ann Arbor, his predecessor, Lloyd Carr, kept a relatively low profile even as he maintained an office at the school and held the title of associate athletic director.
I preferred to think of it as Carr not wanting to be associated with RichRod’s “kind”, but realistically it had more to do with a class act like Carr allowing his successor the opportunity to plow his own turf on his own terms.
Now that RichRod has successfully plowed a proud and historic Michigan football program into the ground, however, Carr is rightfully becoming more of a public face of the program he coached to one national championship and five Big Ten titles. And, more importantly, is continuing doing what’s been near and dear to his heart: helping in any way he can the work being done by very dedicated individuals at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
Oh, and garnering a hell of a lot of love from his former players in the process.
First and foremost, though, was the announcement tonight that the Al Glick family is donating $3 million to the children’s hospital, with the stipulation being that the seventh floor be named “The Coach Carr Pediatric Cancer Unit”. Additionally, a number of former players who played under Carr, including Brian Griese, Steve Hutchinson and Charles Woodson, announced the creation of the “Coach Carr Mountaintop Fund” that has already raised $735,000 for the hospital through generous donations from former players and coaches.
“Lloyd is very deserving,” Jackson (Mich.) businessman Al Glick said. “He has spent so much time (at Mott). About three years ago, I realized there’s a lot more to Michigan football than just going out and winning games, and that’s probably something I learned from Lloyd. …
“Lloyd got us involved in the hospital. I’ve had so many people tell me, ‘If it hadn’t been for Mott Hospital …’ I don’t know how you could pay better tribute to someone.”
Now that is a legacy. Not the number of conference or national titles, not the number of times you beat… well, ya know. In the grand scheme of things, that attachment to and work for kids in not that great of shape health-wise is the legacy that really matters.
Seeing as this is Michigan and the proud flagship football program is involved, though, there was inevitably some gridiron talk going on as well. And, suffice to say, former players are ecstatic over Carr’s public hibernation coming to an end.
“As he should be,” former UM cornerback Morgan Trent said about Carr being “out front” after a few years behind the scenes . “How you don’t want a man of his stature around, who has given so much to this university, how you wouldn’t want him around your organization is ridiculous to me.
Former offensive lineman Jake Long, now with the Miami Dolphins, echoed the “as he should be” sentiments of Trent.
“That’s what this school needs, he’s like Bo (Schembechler),” Long said. “He’s the face of this program. He’s had such a big footprint in this university, and I think you do need him out front to know he’s got the support of the team and the coaches.”
For those wondering about the current head coach of the Wolverines amidst all of the talk of a former one, Brady Hoke was in attendance at Saturday night’s fundraiser. Hoke spoke of Carr’s draw to past glory days for the program, saying that the former coach’s players “come back for this great event and great cause, but don’t think they don’t want to spend a great evening with their old coach, because that’s important.”
Carr has also been very supportive of the Hoke hire. That’s an important thumbs-up for a fan base, alumni faction and ex-player group that was splintered and fractured as a direct result of the three miserable RichRod years.
“Maybe it’s a little bit selfish, but it’s important for us that (Carr) believes in who the current coach is and we trust in him,” former tight end Jerame Tuman said. “He obviously knows more about what’s going on than we do, so it is absolutely important he’s involved.”
We’ve said it before and we’ll continue to run it into the ground until we’re (maize &) blue in the face: the sport of college football is a greater game when Michigan is relevant. Here’s to hoping that Hoke is the right Michigan man for the job.
And that Coach Carr continues to do what he does for a greater cause — kids.