Monday, December 4, 2006
As I predicted here yesterday morning, Florida edged out Michigan (wolverine, ironically not native to Michigan, shown below right) for the right to meet Ohio State in the national championship game. Because the computer rankings had it a tie, and because Michigan hadn't played since November 18, the decision turned on human voters, and, no doubt, their reaction to the argumentation on behalf of the contending schools.
One of the chief advocates for Florida was its young coach, Urban Meyer, who has jawboned his team's case for the last several weeks. Wolverine coach Lloyd Carr, on the other hand, refused to show his wolverine-like claws (left, costumery available at ForeverGeek.com). While I have no doubt that total Michigan utility would have been greater with Michigan once again playing Ohio State, but on a neutral field (a possibility that provoked Ohio State coach into not voting in the polls; if he voted for the weaker team he'd rather play, Florida, he would have violated the unspoken rule that you support your own conference teams), I nevertheless take an inexplicable satisfaction in commentary such as that from Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports:
And so Michigan and its coach go down winners even in this most disappointing of times. This program, Bo Schembechler's program, is supposed to be about just what Carr demonstrated, right or wrong, smart or stupid, hopelessly old school or not.
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Whether you agree with his old-school, bedrock-value approach or not, whether you think he blew it by not sticking up for his team, you have to appreciate that when everything was on the line, he walked the walk.
When a shot at a national title was in the balance, Lloyd Carr, the old Michigan man, proved that even in this hyper-competitive era, even in this senseless system, the values he always expounds – pride, respect, humility – still can take precedent over all.