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College Football Mailbag (cont.)

Posted: Wednesday August 8, 2007 1:02PM; Updated: Wednesday August 8, 2007 2:21PM
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Lloyd Carr and Shawn Crable
Could this really be Lloyd Carr's last year at Michigan?
Stewart Mandel's first book, Bowls, Polls and Tattered Souls: Tackling the Chaos and Controversy that Reign Over College Football, will be released Aug. 24. Pre-order your discounted copy today.

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Do you think that this is Lloyd Carr's last season in Ann Arbor, win or lose? One has to think that if he loses to Ohio State again, especially in Ann Arbor, and/or loses another bowl game, he will be fired, and if he beats Ohio State and/or wins a bowl game, he'll end his career on a good note with Hart, Henne, Manningham, Long, etc.
--Patrick, Salt Lake City, Utah

I do honestly believe this will be Carr's last season. I have no inside information (not even the CIA could penetrate that iron fortress), it's just a gut feeling based on some of the things he's said over the past year, a slight change in his demeanor, as well as some other subtle hints. For one thing, I believe the pressure surrounding the Ohio State and bowl failures have begun to wear on him. I think he's probably not a big fan of the direction the recruiting business has taken. I think Bo Schembechler's passing was more devastating for him than any of us can possibly imagine. And I think the timing of that reworked contract detail we heard about last January was no coincidence.

For all he's put in to that place, however, I've got to believe Carr desperately desires to go out on a "high note," and I'm sure he feels like this particular team gives him as good a chance as any to do it. If things do turn sour, however -- if the Wolverines wind up in the Outback Bowl after another loss to the Buckeyes -- I still highly doubt the school would actually fire him, but I think Carr would make the decision for them.

Is there any way to find out who voted for Duke in the preseason coaches poll, and can that coach be banned from ever voting again? What a joke.
--Ryan Pry, Radford, Va.

Actually, we know exactly whose vote that was: Steve Spurrier's. In fact, he's been doing it every year for quite some time now. He says it's his way of paying tribute to the school that gave him his first college head-coaching job. He says he keeps the Blue Devils on his ballot until they lose their first game.

Personally, I think it's perfectly harmless, but apparently some folks are starting to get all up in knots about it. USA Today actually ran a story on the subject the day it published the poll that included this hilarious quote from Jim Welch, USA Today's deputy managing editor for sports: "We're hopeful that before next season the coaches association can prevail upon Coach Spurrier to find another way to salute his former team -- or that Duke gets better in a hurry." I have to tell you, if you're the guy in charge of the coaches poll, you've got a lot bigger fish to fry than Spurrier's Duke vote. Like coaches who don't fill out their own ballots. And coaches who vote their own teams or conferences inordinately high. Might want to get on those first.

Stewart, I've seen several newspapers and other publications listing Oklahoma State as a trendy pick to upset OU and Texas and win the Big 12 South. Do you think this is possible?
--Brian, Colorado Springs, Colo.

I like the Cowboys a lot, and there's no question they're a legitimate "sleeper" team. You know that offense is going to be plenty potent with Bobby Reid back there throwing to potential All-America Adarius Bowman and D'Juan Woods. If the defense can just improve a little bit from last year (when the Cowboys went 7-6, upsetting Nebraska and beating Alabama in the Independence Bowl), there's no reason why they can't win eight or nine games and perhaps make a run at the Cotton Bowl.

But win the division? That's a tall order that will require either one heck of a coaching job by Mike Gundy or some drastic underachieving by both Oklahoma and Texas. There's a reason the two have combined to win every South title since 1999 (and neither has finished lower than second) -- they're way more talented than the other teams. They recruit top-five classes nearly every year; Oklahoma State has recruited nicely under Gundy, but not like that. If there was one South team that would seem to have the overall personnel level at this point to unseat the Big Two, it would be Texas A&M, but I don't have a whole lot of faith that's going to happen, either.

Stewart, I don't think you are doing nearly enough to pitch your book Bowls, Polls & Tattered Souls (in stores August 24). I was taught that in marketing, it takes at least seven references for the customer to recall the product, and even more for them to act on the impulse to buy it. In your last column, I only counted three references to Bowls, Polls & Tattered Souls, and one ad on the page that led to an order page for Bowls, Polls & Tattered Souls. Only once was the name Bowls, Polls & Tattered Souls mentioned by you specifically. You even referred to Bowls, Polls & Tattered Souls solely as "my book." You don't even mention Bowls, Polls & Tattered Souls' subtitle, Tackling the Chaos and Controversy that Reign Over College Football, which further explains why the book is important for the consumer to buy.

If this referencing of Bowls, Polls & Tattered Souls pans out and your readers are hypnotized into uncontrollably buying your book, and you roll in the dough of a NY Times Bestseller, how about a little love for the Hokie Spirit Fund for the free educational advice I had to pay thousands for?
--Bryan, Blacksburg, Va.

Bryan: Thank you for imparting your marketing wisdom. Believe it or not, I am actually writing this Mailbag while on a flight to Blacksburg (well, technically Roanoke) for an upcoming story about the Hokies. By the time my visit is over, I'm guessing I'll be taking you up on that offer whether or not the book hits the best-seller list or the recycling bin.

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