Michigan's Carr retires

ANN ARBOR, Mich. &

Lloyd Carr retired today after 13 seasons as Michigan's football coach, opening up the job leading the nation's winningest program.

Carr, who was groomed for the position by the legendary Bo Schembechler, leaves after having directed the Wolverines to 121 wins, five Big Ten titles and a national championship.

"On this week of Thanksgiving no one has more to be thankful for than I do," he said at a news conference this morning.

Carr's departure means that one of college football's most attractive jobs now is available.

LSU coach Les Miles seems to be at the top of the list of potential successors because he played for Schembechler at Michigan, where he met his wife and later became an assistant.

Even though Miles appears to be in a great situation leading the top-ranked Tigers in a talent-rich area of the country, the school was concerned enough about him bolting for Michigan that it put a specific clause in his contract to make it an expensive move.

In the "termination by coach" section of his deal, Michigan is the only other school mentioned. It states that Miles will not seek or accept employment as Michigan's coach. If Miles does leave LSU to coach the Wolverines, he must pay LSU $1.25 million.

Other candidates might include Carolina Panthers assistant Mike Trgovac, who played for the Wolverines and joined their coaching staff in 1984 as a graduate assistant; Kirk Ferentz of Iowa, where University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman was before coming to Ann Arbor; and NFL head coaches Bobby Petrino in Atlanta and Tampa Bay's Jon Gruden.

Carr said it will be up to athletic director Bill Martin to decided what role, if any, Carr will have in choosing the next coach.

Carr said his hope is that whoever comes after him will continue the long tradition at Michigan of winning "with integrity."

"That's what we want to do," he said. "In the big picture the character of this institution will be defined by the way this program is run, and that really is what Michigan is about and what I hope will always be about."

Carr leaves with a 121-40 record and his .752 winning percentage, ranks seventh among active coaches just behind Florida State's Bobby Bowden and ahead of South Carolina's Steve Spurrier before he retired.

His retirement follows a season in which the Wolverines opened with a stunning loss to Appalachia State and closed with a fourth consecutive loss to Ohio State, which matched Michigan's longest losing streak in the storied series. Carr was the first coach in school history to lose six times in seven years in the rivalry.

The Jim Tressel-led Buckeyes beat the Wolverines 14-3, Saturday, dropping Carr to 6-7 overall in the matchup that matters most.

"Lloyd Carr is one of the true gentlemen of college football," Tressel said Sunday. "His legacy is extraordinary and his leadership in the coaching profession is greatly appreciated. He made a difference in collegiate athletics."

Carr led the Wolverines to the 1997 national championship and five Big Ten titles. He won .779 percent of his conference games, trailing the success rate of just two coaches that were in the Big Ten for at least a decade: Michigan's Bo Schembechler and Fielding Yost. Against top-10 teams, Carr was 17-9.

Michigan has lost its last four bowl games, including three Rose Bowls, the longest postseason skid since Schembechler dropped seven straight in the 1970s.

The Wolverines were ranked No. 5 before this season started by voters who thought returning stars on offense would make up for inexperienced players on defense and special teams.

Then came the loss to Appalachian State, making Michigan the first ranked team to lose to a team from the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly Division I-AA. That led to an unprecedented fall out of the poll.

Michigan followed up that embarrassment by losing to Oregon 39-7 at home, its worst loss since 1968.

The Wolverines did rally, however, with eight straight wins and had a chance to win the Big Ten title outright and earn a spot in the Rose Bowl in the regular-season finale against Ohio State. With the loss to the Buckeyes, Michigan is likely to end up in the Outback Bowl or the Alamo Bowl.

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