MSC Interviews Jim Carty

By · Friday, August 18, 2006 · 3:20 PM |  Share | 4 Comments 

This past Monday the Michigan Sports Center interviewed Michigan punter Zoltan Mesko. It wasn’t too long until another interview came about. This time MSC talks with sports writer Jim Carty. In the interview, Carty defends his criticism of Tommy Amaker and Jerrett Smith, and also talks about his thoughts on the upcoming football season.

Here’s the second MSC interview.

Michigan Sports Center: In a recent interview on WTKA-1050, you criticized Tommy Amaker for the way he went about shaking up his staff by calling it gutless. For those that may have not read the transcript or heard the interview, why did you make that statement?

Jim Carty: After denying multiple times that he wouldn’t shake up his staff, Amaker changed his mind and did so. That’s absolutely within his right. But he then announced the shakeup when he was out of the country, because he knew it would be newsworthy and — in my opinion as columnist — didn’t want to answer questions about it. He met with the media only days before and could have easily made the announcement there, answered 5 minutes worth of questions, and been done with the whole thing.

Amaker likes to say he’s a teacher, so what’s the lesson that he’s teaching here? That when the going gets tough, rather than face questions about your decisions, you should hide.

Obviously, I felt he should be called on it.

MSC: Another statement you made in that interview was this: “We all know Lester can play … we all know Jerrett Smith can’t play. If he lays off the donuts, maybe he can be a nice backup” Although he struggled a little bit last season, don’t you think that’s a bit harsh to say about a player that only has one year of experience?

JC: Well, let’s take the donuts issue first. Amaker criticized Smith’s weight as recently as the Monday before the Australian Tour. Now, did I do it in a less respectful, more irreverent manner? Sure. That’s why the hosts laughed. It was funny. Now, would Jerrett Smith find it funny? Probably not, but I would think he’d be more concerned that his coach thinks he’s overweight and played a walk-on over him last year in the Big Ten Tournament.

As for the actual basketball analysis — he can’t play — no, I don’t think that’s harsh. I don’t think Jarrett Smith, at best, will ever be mentioned among the good point guards in the Big Ten, let alone among the best. If I’m wrong, I’ll say so in the column.

MSC: Dealing with the hiring and firing of Michigan coaches can be tricky with A.D. Bill Martin. There’s a huge difference between if a coach should or will be fired. In your honest opinion, do you think Tommy Amaker should be fired if the Wolverines don’t make the NCAA Tournament this season?

JC: I not only think Amaker should be fired if he misses the NCAA Tournament, I think he will be fired. Bill Martin has to support Amaker now, it’s part of being a good AD. But if this team doesn’t make the NCAA Tournament, it’ll be obvious to everyone that Tommy Amaker’s not the guy to get this program to the next level.

MSC: Getting onto the topic that will be the biggest in a couple weeks, let’s talk about some football. After a 7-5 season in 2005, what does Lloyd Carr realistically need to do to get Michigan fans off his back?

JC: I think every program that’s been as successful as Michigan has a decent-sized segment of fans who’ll criticize anything short of a perfect season regardless of the situation. They’ve become so used to winning, and their image of how easy it is to win so distorted, they lose sight of the fact that there are a lot of very good teams out there.

That said, I think the rank and file Michigan fan — and the team and coaches — can’t consider 7-5 a successful season, or be happy about the recent track record against Ohio State and Notre Dame. Realistically, Lloyd Carr needs to beat Ohio State and Notre Dame (and continue to take care of business against MSU) to really get fans off his back. If he does those things, the final record will be very good and they’ll play in a BCS bowl.

MSC: The Wolverines first big test will come on September 16th when they travel to South Bend for a matchup with the highly-ranked Fighting Irish. As a true freshman, Chad Henne seemed to be rattled a bit by the environment at Notre Dame Stadium. After two full years of experience he should be more-adjusted to playing in games like that. Do you think that Chad will be able to go out there in front of the Notre Dame crowd and lead Michigan to a much-needed victory?

JC: I don’t think Henne was rattled by Notre Dame, I just think he was rushed into the quarterback’s job by the Gutierrez injury and suffered through the growing pains any QB goes through in his first tough college road game.

Do I think Chad can win at Notre Dame? Certainly. What he’ll see there will be no tougher than what he’s already seen at Ohio State and MSU and Wisconsin. But the running game and defense will have a lot more to do with the game’s outcome than Henne IMHO.

MSC: Sizing up the rest of the 2006 schedule, there are two other very big road games where Michigan will have a tough time winning (PSU and OSU). What do you think the Wolverines’ record will be in those two games?

JC: I’ve predicted Michigan will be 2-1 in the big three road games, with wins over ND and PSU.

MSC: Just as Chad Henne, Mike Hart is entering his third season as a Wolverine. Hart suffered injuries for most of 2005, but was very good when he was healthy. If he can stay healthy all season, what do you think his chances are at making a run for the Heisman trophy?

JC: It’s hard to win the Heisman without a certain amount of preseason momentum, and Hart doesn’t have that right now because of his injury-plagued sophomore season. If Michigan wins the Big Ten, and he leads the conference in rushing, he’s got a shot. But I’d view him as a Heisman longshot this year, with a chance to set himself up nicely for 2007.

MSC: The biggest move in the offseason was undoubtedly changing the offensive and defensive coordinators. How different of an offense and defense can we expect to see with Mike DeBord and Ron English at the helm?

JC: I don’t think there will be big formational or philosophical changes in either unit, but I think both will be a lot better, the offense because it will be healthy, the defense because I think Ron English is a great motivator and a very good teacher.

MSC: The recruiting class was very solid, and many true freshman coming in have a chance to make an immediate impact. Of the newcomers, who do you expect to receive the largest amount of playing time?

JC: Carlos Brown has become a little over-hyped IMHO because of his early enrollment (see Grady, Kevin), but I expect he’ll find a role. Justin Boren would have played, but was injured early, which often results in a redshirt, especially for an offensive lineman. Carr has talked up offensive tackle Stephen Schilling, but I think they’d still prefer to redshirt him. Brandon Graham will find a role, even though Michigan is stacked at linebacker.

Greg Matthews has the best chance to grab a big role, because wide receiver is such a question mark.

MSC: There are many players on this year’s team that are explosive and have the capabilities of being some of the best in the entire nation. Who do you think will be the MVP of the Michigan team?

JC: If healthy, Hart or Jake Long will be this team’s MVP. Both are very special players and leaders.

MSC: When it comes down to it, any thoughts on what the final record of the ’06 season will be?

JC: The road schedule is so tough that I’ve ruled out a sweep, so the final record comes down to whether they drop a game people don’t expect them to. I’m going to predict they will (Iowa or MSU) and finish 10-2 overall. If it goes down that way, with two Big Ten losses, I’d expect they’ll play in either the Capital One Bowl or get an at-large bid to the BCS.

Thanks again to Jim Carty for stopping by the Michigan Sports Center. Only two weeks to go until kickoff tomorrow, it’s hard to believe that college football is almost here.

4 Comments

  1. Maize n Brew Dave says:

    Excellent questions Sean. Great job going right at him about his interview on WTKA.

    Great interview.

  2. Devilbear says:

    UM 42 osu 13. If Henne stays healthy, and his backup gets sufficient playing time, we should be having a party Jan 8,2007. osu is “drastically overrated” come Nov 18,06 they will be 8-3 and 8-4 after the game, headed to the alamo bowl.

  3. Johnny says:

    I really like this segment of the blog, Sean. It’s fresh.

  4. Lichty says:

    Good interview and not just softball questions. Carty was a good interviewee as well.

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