Another point of view on a common criticism of Carr
EVANSTON, ILLINOIS OCTOBER 30, 2005 Lloyd Carr consistently gets criticism for not challenging for national titles despite having highly ranked recruiting classes year after year. This is certainly a valid discussion point, but I hardly ever hear Carr praised for delivering the depth and talent that Michigan possesses. There are several dimensions to this.
First, this criticism kind of assumes that, by virtue of the winged helmets and “tradition”, Michigan simply opens the doors to Schembechler Hall and lets the top talent line up for scholarships. This implies that Carr has no hand in, a) actually recruiting the top prospects and, b) continuing to create a desirable program that kids want to be a part of (5 Big Ten titles, 9 straight New Year’s day bowls, let alone a place that parents are proud to send their children). These critics assume that anyone could come in and continue dragging in top talent year after year. I’m not so sure this is as easy as it seems to come to Carr and his staff.
Second, I don’t hear Carr praised when the value of these deep recruiting classes actually makes a difference. Look at this season. This team continues to lose its top players yet there’s always a Wolverine back-up ready on the bench that tosses his helmet on, trots on the field and delivers. In the Northwestern game, center Adam Kraus was helped off the field after his injury, you had to wonder how Michigan would deal with yet another loss at a key position. Chad Henne simply tapped Mark Bihl on the shoulder, took 3 practice snaps on the sideline and they were good to go. No one got by Bihl (or anyone else) all day: Henne was never touched.
The difference in depth can also be understood when looking across the field. Northwestern QB Brett Basanez is a fine quarterback and delivered the ball all day. The problem was with the guys trying to catch the ball. The Wildcats must have dropped six or more balls. Bad luck? Having a couple drops might be chalked up to bad luck, this many drops was due to poor talent. Northwestern had many drives in the second half killed by holding penalties. Holding was the only way to keep the quicker, bigger Michigan defenders off their quarterback. Give Carr credit for bringing in these players.