Pre-Alamo Bowl Presser: Coach Carr

Coach Carr discusses injuries, getting passed over for the Outback Bowl, his belief that there should be a playoff system, the upcoming Alamo Bowl match-up with Nebraska, and more.

For those that missed the comments from the players - including Jake Long on not needing surgery - click here.

On if he has the schedule between now and the bowl worked out:

"No. We're going to figure that out once we go. (Laughter). No, we practiced last Friday and last Sunday, Tuesday. We'll practice Thursday, Saturday, and then Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday next week and take off Thursday evening, the 22nd."

On if there is there a difference preparing for this game:

"It's not a lot different than on the New Year's Day bowl for the last nine years or so. We would have left, gone down early to practice. So we've had to work against and around our exam schedules, which I think is more difficult for the players. But the schedule itself, we just move it back and we'll try to get the same number of practices that we would a normal bowl game."

On if he is surprised that Jake Long didn't need surgery:

"I think it's a great thing for Jake because he's been through a very difficult season. And the opportunity to play in this game, certainly, is important for our team. I think it was great news. Obviously for Jake Long, it was great news."

On Adam Kraus:

"He's practicing. He's not 100 percent. Of course Leo Henige won't play. And Mike Kolodziej continues to have bad luck, he's having some surgery today on his hand and he'll miss the game. But we're healthier we were when the season ended, and yet we have a number of guys that we'll just hope that they will continue to improve as we move closer to the game."

On Mike Hart:

"He's one of those guys that's not where we'd like him to be. He's making progress. It's a miserable injury from the standpoint those high ankle sprains are slow to heal."

On Tim Massaquoi:

"Massaquoi has not practiced yet, probably will not practice until we get to the game site, we'll just have to see."

On the effect playing in the Alamo Bowl might have after playing in so many New Year's day bowls:

"I think for our football team it's an opportunity to play against an outstanding program like Nebraska. I think in watching Nebraska, I've been very impressed from where they were at the beginning of the season and where they were in the middle and where they are today. I think they are a program that is on the rise. I think they have had an opportunity from an offensive standpoint to transition and it is a very difficult transition when you go from what they have done for so long to what Bill Callahan is doing now.

"It's different because we'll be coming home earlier. But from the standpoint of being able to play a game, it doesn't matter if you're going to play in the parking lot, it doesn't matter where you're going to play, it doesn't matter who is there. It's an opportunity to play. I think Derrick Fox and the people at the Alamo Bowl do a tremendous job. I think in all of the places we've been, I don't think we've been treated any better anywhere.

"So for me it comes back, and I think for our team comes back, it's one last opportunity to compete, and against an outstanding program, so we're excited to do that."

On if this game is a spring board to next year:

"I think the most important thing is this team and this season. Certainly for those guys that were redshirted this year or did not have an opportunity to play, it's an opportunity for them to get extra practice. And certainly for the guys that are coming back, winning a bowl game is always something that creates some momentum if you can win it. Certainly it's a lot more fun to come home after a win than it is when you're not successful."

On if he is perplexed that the Outback Bowl took Iowa when they finished with the same record and lost the head to head:

"I think where I am is that the BCS has been relatively successful in pitting the top two teams against each other. And certainly this year, we have an opportunity to play a Championship Game, and I think it's going to be one of the great games that we've had in college football in a long time.

"But I think the other side of that is that when you look at the other bowls, you have the commissioners, the bowl people, the TV people, doing the scheduling. And I think it's only fair to the players that what happens on the field should dictate where you play. And for that reason, I never thought I would say this, I think we should go to a playoff. I think we should play the top 16 teams and do it on the field because I think that's only fair to the guys that play the game."

On what reservations he had to get past to get to the point of wanting a playoff:

"I think you'd have to incorporate the bowls. I have the same reservations I had before. I just don't think that the commissioners and the bowl people and the TV people should be making decisions about who plays where.

"I think that should be -- college football, the bowl games, have always been a reward for what you do in the season. So I think in fairness to the players, if you're going to send them somewhere, because the truth is, that when you choose teams based on their ability to sell more tickets or fill more hotel rooms, I think that's unacceptable."

On if getting passed up led to his change in opinion:

"I just think when you look at the entire bowl system we're going to add bowls next year. Why? Because, you know, the financial considerations. I just think that we should settle it on the field. That's my reason for changing."

On if the Rose Bowl it's no longer a special bowl since it's part of the BCS mix:

"I think we've gone down a road in college football; college athletics I think that has changed dramatically in the last ten years. I think that a lot of the tradition has been impacted. And so I'm just joining with a lot of coaches in the past who are calling for a playoff because I think ultimately if you're going to have a National Championship game, there's going to be years as there was a year ago, where Auburn got left out, and I think you're going to continue to have those scenarios. So let's do it on the field."

On if he thinks there will be a playoff in his lifetime:

"In my lifetime? Oh, it could be any time."

On if he's just reacting this way because it's the first time Michigan has ever been passed up:

"You know, I think that we need to do it on the field. We've added a 12th game. Why? Because of money. So if it's about money, then let's not forget the guys that play the game."

On if he thinks there could be a playoff next year:

"Well, right now the Commissioners have control of college football. The NCAA has no influence. I think that's something that the NCAA needs to do."

On if the presidents would have a problem with the possible negative effect a playoff could have on academics:

"They didn't seem to have too much concern about academics when they added the 12th game. So we've just gone down a road where I think eventually we're going to have a playoff system. How soon that's going to be, I don't know. But I think it's inevitable. Whether it will be in my lifetime or not, remains to be seen."

On how much discussion a playoff gets from the coaches:

"I don't think the coaches have a lot of influence because the coaches were opposed to the 12th game. I think the commissioners, and I think the athletic directors who need added revenue to support the athletic programs, I think that's what's driving us toward this thing."

On what he thinks of the votes in the coaches poll being made public:

"I think from a coach's standpoint, I was opposed to it, because I think within the coaching fraternity, when you reveal your vote, it creates hard feelings. It's impossible not to, because when you are voting on the Top 25, it's very subjective. I think it's very difficult. And I'm sure there will be some hard feelings across the country, and yet I think grand at that point, the American Football Coaches Association, felt it was extremely important for the coaches to remain a viable voice in the Championship Game, and to do that, I think you know, we felt that we had to release our votes. So, you know, there's risk and reward. Perplexing. Perplexing."

On what consideration goes into a 12th game opponent:

"I think, first of all, it's difficult in the immediate future, because it's getting I think more difficult to attract teams without agreeing to return of visits somewhere that may not be, for example, in our case, we may get somebody to come here that would come, but we would have to return a trip to them and we may be playing in a 50,000-seat stadium, so there's revenue concerns there.

"It's not an easy situation. There are a number of schools who are dropping down a division to play the 12th game. I mean, there's a lot of them. I think when you look at, for example, Michigan/Oklahoma, people have pointed out we played the two most difficult schedules in the country. The more difficult schedule you play, the more difficult it is to get to the BCS Championship Game.

"So scheduling, I always said this, Bear Bryant said when you look at his scheduling when he was with Alabama and won those Championship games, he always pointed to the importance of scheduling. I don't think that's changed, at all. I think it's an important part of getting to that game."

On the advantage some Big Ten Teams (like purdue this year) get in scheduling:

"Well, I think the competitiveness of our conference, and I think all of the conferences are competitive. I think the truth is in our situation in the Big Ten, the advantage we have is that we don't have a Big Ten Championship Game because we only have 11 teams. I think if you look at Virginia Tech who had a great season, they lost a Championship Game and they are out at the BCS. So those Championship games, I think make it more difficult. I don't know how that is going to resolve itself. Personally, I would love to have a 12th team so that we could either play 10 conference games, but I don't know how that is going to work out."

On if he expects the NCAA to allow an earlier start to maintain the bye:

"No, I don't think the NCAA is going to do that this year. They may never do it, which means that when you look at playing 12 consecutive games without a bye, I think anybody will tell you, we're going to have -- by the end of this season at Michigan this year, we'll have had 19 surgeries. And that could, of course, increase as we go forward here. I think that speaks to the toll that it has on the players.

"I think in fairness to the players, again, we need a bye week in there. And so my guess is, at some point, we'll play after Thanksgiving. I think the players aren't going to like that, and a lot of coaches aren't going to like it. Because I think we have always had the best of that world in the Big Ten because we've been able to allow our players to go home for Thanksgiving."

On working on the running game heading into the bowl:

"Well, we're working on being able to get people knocked off the line of scrimmage. I think that's where it all begins. Of course, in our case, there's a lot of things in there that make that problematic because of our situations with injuries. But we're working hard because I think we all understand that a running game allows you to control the game. I look at the last two years, two years ago, Chris Perry, we had a great running game, and we were able to win a championship. And the same thing happened a year ago when Mike Hart had such a great year. But we were able to run the football that allows you to protect your defense and it allows you to do a lot of things that help you to win. I think we understand the importance of being able to run the football in terms of what it does to your chances to win."

On if Rueben Riley:

"With Leo out of the game, Ruben will play guard, yes. Alex Mitchell will figure in there at tackle. As we practice, we're practicing with a lot of guys that we've redshirted and we certainly do not want to use their year in this game. So it means we're going to have to be able to shuffle people if we do have some injuries between now and the game or in the game."

On if a playoff would water down the Michigan - Ohio State game:

"I don't think anything is ever going to water down the Michigan-Ohio State game. If you play it the first game of the year, obviously that would change a lot of things. I think that rivalry is such that it's never going to be impacted.

"With that said, I would always say that would be one of the reasons I was opposed to a playoff. But I think in the public eye, because of the interest in college football, I think what has happened is that -- and I always tell the story. We went to the Orange Bowl, played a great Alabama team, a team that was champions of the SEC. And, you know, the only question we got down there was, weren't we disappointed that we were not playing in the National Championship game. As great as that experience was, the Orange Bowl and winning that game, I think it spoke to that experience; spoke to me that, you know, things have changed. The National Championship game has become the game and the goal. I think it's just one of the changes that we are dealing with."

On Leo Henige:

"Well, he had surgery two weeks ago and I don't remember anybody going through the number of major surgeries that the guy's been through. It's a miserable experience to rehab an injury. And when you're rehabbing your third, it's certainly no fun. When you consider that he's going to be on crutches for another six weeks or so in this weather, and getting around as big as he is, I think it's safe to say it's not a lot of fun."

On Jerome Jackson:

"Jerome is back and practicing well. He'll play a role in this game."

On the biggest step he'd lik to see the defense make:

"When I look at our defense, I think the thing that stands out is from a standpoint that we're disappointed in is our inability at the end of the games to get people off the field, to make a play, to get a sack. And so we're trying to do everything we can in practice to get better in that area."

On Jake Long saying that Carr said that this is a redemption game for 1997:

"Jake Long is inaccurate. (Laughter). I never said it's a redemption game. And Jake Long better pay attention in the meetings.

"What I did is I told a story about seeing, I think he's a Congressman from the great State of Nebraska, stated that Nebraska was going to win this game because they were going to prove once and for all that they were the better team in 1997. That's what I told the team.

"Now, I've got to check Jake's notes. I don't know how he's doing in class, because he must be writing down things that the professor doesn't say.

"I have not said that. I'll deal with him when I see him. (Laughter)."

On the national title game between USC & Texas:

"I think it's going to be a great football game. Texas I think the great advantage for them because, Los Angeles can be a very distracting place for a group of guys 18 to 22 years old. They were they have been there, they were there a year ago and I think that will be a great advantage for them from the standpoint that they have been to that site. So their team is going to be much more comfortable than they would for a team making that trip for the first time.

"With that said, I think USC obviously has a great advantage from the standpoint that nothing in their routine changes. They are at home. They are not going to have any distraction.

"I think there's two great football teams. I think USC is a different team than they were two years ago than even this year. But when you look at (Matt) Leinart, (Reggie) Bush and USC has been in a lot of big games, and so has Texas. And Texas has had a remarkable season. I think Mack Brown has done a great job with that team, keeping them focused and their wins have been impressive.

"And USC, you know they are going to be ready to play. So two great quarterbacks, very different, but I think in watching Vince Young, I think he's made dramatic improvements as a passer. And so he always has the ability to make big plays when things happen, break down. I think it's going to be a terrific football game."

On how much he thinks Mike Hart will play:

"He's practiced every day. I think he will play. I mean, you're dealing -- well, that's the deal. What's the date today, the 14th? Now, 27 minus 14 -- 13 days. Well, maybe he'll get better."

On the goals they didn't meet as a team and those they did:

"Well, our goals were to win each game, and so obviously we can't do that, and from that standpoint, the biggest disappointment is that we had an opportunity to win our third consecutive Big Ten championship. And we failed to do that. So any time you fail to win the championship here, it's a disappointment. And yet, we had some great times, we had some great moments."

"I think we competed hard in every game. I think that the guys that played on this football team, there were things -- I think we're a much better defensive football team this year throughout the season, throughout the course of the season. I think offensively, we were very, very average running the football. And that always comes back I think to haunt you. We still found a way to compete and we were in every game. The disappointment is that we were not able to win some close games at the end."

On the importance of this game to both teams and why will people tune in:

"The truth is that this game is important to both teams, both programs. And regardless of the circumstances, you are dealing with two great traditions and two teams that have great pride in who they are and they also understand that people who love the tradition of college football would be watching that game."

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