What country club?
As has been widely discussed on many Michigan blogs, Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel recently did a piece for SI.com on the Michigan football program during which Coach Rod granted Mandel "exclusive access." In gratitude for the exclusive access, Mandel is highly complimentary of the direction that Coach Rodriguez is taking the program. However, in the article, Mandel is critical of the previous coaching regime. Mandel writes, " All of which makes you wonder: If this new approach is really as shocking as Boren, Schilling and others have expressed, what kind of country club was Carr running all those years? And is that why Michigan, for all its considerable talent, has largely underachieved in the decade since its 1997 national championship, including six losses in seven years against Ohio State?" (emphasis added)
Mandel's "country club" comment was a cheap shot that is without basis in fact. It sounds as if Mandel might be grinding an axe regarding his lack of access to the team during the Carr-era. Coach Carr ran a tough program during his 13-year tenure as Head Coach of the Wolverines. Furthermore, contrary to Mandel's assertion, the program achieved great success in the decade (1998-2007) following the Wolverines National Championship of 1997.
In the 10 seasons following 1997, the Wolverines won the Big Ten title four (4) times and had a won/lost record of 94-32 (.746%). Also, Michigan won three consecutive New Year's Day bowl games during that era ('99 Citrus Bowl; '00 Orange Bowl; '01 Citrus Bowl). In fact, Michigan played in a bowl game every season during the past decade including three (3) Rose Bowl games. Michigan's five bowl victories in the past ten seasons equal the number of bowl victories achieved by Coach Schembechler during his 21-year head coaching career at Michigan.
Coach Rodriguez definitely is running a different style of program than did Coach Carr. Coach Rodriguez' style is also much more media-friendly. That does not mean, however, that Coach Carr ran a country club. As illustrated above, Coach Carr achieved great success in the decade following the National Championship season of 1997. I hope that the Wolverines can experience similar success under Coach Rodriguez. Go Blue!
*Note: Photo of Coach Carr from the 11/3/07 game vs. MSU by DAVID GURALNICK/The Detroit News