Let's Have An "Endzone" User Q&A Comment Count

Brian September 7th, 2015 at 4:01 PM

51OXJPqGd-L._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_[1]Now that many of you have had time to read Endzone, I asked John Bacon if he'd answer whatever questions you have about it or the events that transpired therein. And hell, if you've got questions for me about the relatively minor role I play in said book fire away.

Now, Bacon can't answer questions like "whyyyyyyy" or "how did this even I don't even what is going on." Also, some things he left out of the book are things he can't go on the record about—that's why they're not in the book. There were many cuts for reasons other than an inability to confirm or get someone on the record, though, so if there are holes you wonder about there's a decent chance he can fill in the gaps.

We'll collect the questions left in the comments, pick the ones that Bacon can actually answer, and then have them answered. That's the way a Q&A works. You've seen it before. You know the drill. You may even perceive that I'm just typing until the text is of sufficient length to  get past the image. That's the Michigan Difference.



September 7th, 2015 at 4:04 PM ^

Mr. Bacon, can please enlighten us on what the "U." Is in your name? I know this isn't a huge deal to most people but that's something that had been bothering me for a while and I know you won't answer but didn't see it asked on the Reddit AMA.


September 7th, 2015 at 5:38 PM ^

From a September 4, 2014 interview with WYPR: 
EISENBERG: I have to ask by the way, what is the U in - what's your middle name? What's the U? Is it University? 
JOHN U. BACON: I never tell this, actually. 
EISENBERG: Oh, really? 
BACON: We're divulging this for everybody but - Underhill, if you can believe it. 
EISENBERG: Underhill? 
BACON: Yes. 
EISENBERG: I can believe it. 
BACON: I couldn't.

Chuck Norris

September 7th, 2015 at 4:07 PM ^

In the book, you talk about the "Bumblebee uniformz" and how none of the players had any idea they were putting them on until a few minutes before game time vs MSU. Whose idea was that? Were the coaches aware? Who moved them in while the players were warming up? When was that decision made? I'm just curious since it was hinted that the players didn't play as well since they had to focus on switching uniforms instead of mentally preparing for the game.

Mr. W

September 8th, 2015 at 4:28 PM ^

The uniformz started with Brandon and were his attempt to outshine State's pro combat jerseys that they were unvailing that day. It was a well kept secret and some of the coaches and higher ranking staff did know that day. The jerseys were moved in by the equipment staff and whoever else was available to help in the locker room at the time in order to get all the jerseys into the lockers as the players warmed up.


September 7th, 2015 at 4:09 PM ^

My question: there was a lot of hard work done by Anson, Ghindia, et al to get letterman from various eras behind the Harbaugh hire, but I don't recall reading much about reaching out to the players from '07, who seemed the most upset about Harbaugh's academic standards comments. Was that handled by Bill Martin and Lloyd Carr, mainly?


September 7th, 2015 at 4:11 PM ^

I was surprised that there wasn't a lot of discussion around the firing of Gary Moeller. As I recall, no less than George Perles drove to Ann Arbor to plead with the coach not to resign (though "resigning" sure didn't sound voluntary at the time).

What details can you share regarding his dismissal that weren't in the book? I'm not looking here for confirmation of the Les Miles rumors, but rather what might have led to the coach's seemingly out of character drunken conduct and the fall out thereafter.


September 7th, 2015 at 4:11 PM ^

John, what happened to the plaques that were removed from the remodeling? What are the letterman doing to get the chili tailgate and other events back together? Why are there still employees in place from the Brandon regime? Is there a better letterman relationship being built regarding tickets and sideline passes? Are there better people in charge to handle the media? What game day policies are changing? How does Brandon et al. Not go to jail for reselling tickets that students bought?


September 7th, 2015 at 4:13 PM ^

Now that I've read the book there is so much that was lost in the Brandon era. Is anything being done to restore things to the way they were? (Other than trying to become a winning football team, that is.)


September 7th, 2015 at 4:20 PM ^

I found some typos in the book that I wish to share with you for correction in future printings.  Where is an appropriate place to share these?  The Michigan difference.


September 8th, 2015 at 1:13 PM ^

I enjoyed reading the book, but did find it alarming that toward the beginning, when Yost was giving his retirement speech and making the rhetorical flourish that would forever tie Michigan to the "Michigan Man" ideal - and provide the overarching theme of the book - the word "Michigan" was misspelled. With an extra N. The same typo was repeated farther down the page, and elsewhere in the book as well. I know John U. knows how to spell Michigan, but nevertheless, it's rather disconcerting to read a book where the most important word is repeatedly misspelled.


September 7th, 2015 at 4:23 PM ^


Are any corrective actions in the works (return of faculty oversite board, reorganization/reduction of AD staff) to continue to return the department to where it should be?

Built Ford Tough

September 7th, 2015 at 4:55 PM ^

I just don't understand how Brandon would let that happen in the first place! The move ensured that ticket sales/demand would be great for one year and then drastically fall when MSU & OSU are away. How does an "All-American in business" not realize there is incredible instability with that schedule change?!


September 7th, 2015 at 7:04 PM ^

Let's tone down the snarky attitude.

For generations Michigan fans were accustomed to having one rivalry game at home every year (two if ND was at home as well).  Of course there are other important games, but rivalry games are special.  To have none at home every other year because the Big Ten screwed up is just wrong.  I'm sure our ticket office isn't happy about it.  






September 8th, 2015 at 3:37 AM ^

The odd/even years for the rivalry in the past corrected themselves.

For instance, we played Penn State at home twice in a row, 2002 and 2005.  (2003 and 2004 they were off the schedule)  Go figure they were terrible both years

The teams play each other every year from that point foward) - Michigan at home in odds year and Penn State home in even years.   Then we didn't play them in 2011 and 2012.

The 2013 had us play at Penn State again (twice in a row, last game in 2010 was at Penn State).  

So the series essentially corrected itself back to what it usually was.

Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan State all maintained the same odd/even year matchups.   Despite the fact that Michigan State has not played regular season games against Ohio State multiple times in the last 6 years.  

So it appears our game against Michigan State was some kind of negotiating piece that we got rolled over on.

There were also rumors that Michigan State was crying to be in the West (depsite making no sense geographically) -which is so MSU.   Because of that piece of shit school, we get screwed over.  

This enabled two straight Big Ten conference schedules that were easier than anything Ohio State has played- they sold out for the short term benefit and still couldn't win the conference.  






September 7th, 2015 at 4:25 PM ^

Do the athletes realize why the fans were so against Brandon and how do they feel about it?  Do they understand the way the fanbase felt abused and taken advantage of?

Also, we know Brandon spent a ton of money on facilities and everything to make the student athletes' lives better, but would they have prefered some of that as compensation instead of an expensive dinner with the AD or a brand new stadium for their 200 regular fans?


September 7th, 2015 at 4:28 PM ^

I have not yet read the book but during Bacon's talk at the book release event at Rackham, there was much discussion and focus on how institutional safeguards had been removed (purposely or not) by Brandon.  A lot of those safeguards effectively were institutional knowledge/traditions/morals contained within people (the ~140 Brandon fired from the athletic department including Falk "resigning").


Is Hackett, or anyone else, working to re-implement those various safeguards and/or reacquire those people with the institutational knowledge that was "lost" during Brandon's tenure?


This question is specifically focused on the future.  Due to the "Dave Brandon experience" a generation of Michigan fans will be worried every time a new AD arrives or tries to change anything.  But, we can be less worried if many of the instituational safeguards are restored since before "true damage" can be done, those safeguards would have to be removed again and we're probably going to notice/react to those removals more strongly the next time it happens.  If, however, those safeguards are never re-implemented, then Michigan fans are much more strongly at the mercy of whoever the new AD happens to be.


September 7th, 2015 at 4:28 PM ^

Though at the time we heard that there was a push by the past players to court Harbaugh, I didnt realize the level of coordination and effort involved. One thing that surprised me the most was the seeming nonstop calls, text, emails the group arranged to make sure Harbaugh knew how much he was wanted by the University and Football community.

Did Anson, et. al. ever worry that they may be pushing too much and that it could turn off Harbaugh? How big of an effort was it in terms of people who reached out to Harbaugh? Are we talking dozens or a hundred? 

Thank you again for writing such great books about the state of Michigan football over the last few years, and hopefully future members of the Michigan community use it as a guide of what can happen when we stray from the core ideals of our university.



September 7th, 2015 at 4:37 PM ^

As a follow-up on this question...

Short: why was it so critical for Harbaugh to "feel the love" so strongly?

Long: The man seems not to have a molecule of insecurity in his body, so why would he care if he was Michigan's first, second, and third choice, and why would he care if every connection possible urged him on? It seems as though the necessity of those factors in bringing him in imply he either didn't feel very powerfully about Michigan, or he really wants/needs his ego caressed. Given that neither of those seem to be true, what gives with the need for a massive effort from all fronts to get him to A2?

snarling wolverine

September 7th, 2015 at 5:23 PM ^

Well, when you consider the situation he found himself in with his backstabbing San Francisco ownership, it would make sense that he'd want reassurances that his future boss would be fully behind him.  If you're only the second or third choice, that might mean your boss isn't really invested in you.


September 7th, 2015 at 4:30 PM ^

1) One of Bacon's big themes was how Canham had built a culture that felt familial in the Athletic Department, which allowed the AD to succeed through Bill Martin (although, considering stretch gate, this is debatable). Most of the members of that culture are gone. In addition to recovering from the financial hole he dug, how long will it take for the University to rebuild its AD in a positive, lasting way?

2) This is a rambling question, but basically, how did the student athletes feel? Hagerup's story does an excellent job of showing why Brandon had so much support from the student athletes - he was truly willing to stick out his neck for them. However, Gardner's snippets were far more interesting because he did seem to understand the criticisms of his coaches and Athletic Director. Can you tell us more about how Gardner feels about his time in a2 and the leadership that was above him? We're there a fair amount of student athletes who felt similarly to Gardner, or were they typically more like Hagerup? I'd have loved to hear from the players on teams whose coaches had gotten fired - Brandon was obviously dedicated to their sports but I imagine they'd have felt their coaches were unfairly fired at times too.


September 8th, 2015 at 2:35 PM ^

To add on to your question a bit. What was going on with Gardner at the beginning of last year, why was he throwing the ball so bad. Did he have some nagging Injury, did Nuss tinker with his throwing motion, or did he just flat out have trouble picking up the offense. People tend to forget how bad Gardner was at the beginning of the year and if I remember correctly a lot of people wanted to see him benched for Morris.

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September 7th, 2015 at 4:32 PM ^

Cannot put the book down! Can you talk a little bit about Fire 'em Fridays. Did nobody see all of the firings of loyal employees as a red flag? Do other Athletic Deptartments give their AD that much power to hire/fire at will? Also, who do you see taking over for Hackett as permanent AD? Also thought your excerpt from Lasting Lessons about the coach wit no headset on was spot on and very telling.

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Voltron Blue

September 7th, 2015 at 4:49 PM ^

After what seemed to these eyes to be a bungling of the administration of the CARA forms, directly leading to Michigan's first "major" NCAA violations, I felt like maybe the athletic organization was getting a little too comfortable (/sloppy/lazy) and I actually liked the idea of lighting a fire.  Obviously, the book reveals that it went ridiculously way too far.  



September 7th, 2015 at 4:32 PM ^

You touch upon the decision to bench Gardner for Minnesota. There's a Gardner quote that seems to imply it wasn't Hoke's decision. There's then a Hagerup quote that suggests it was Nussmeier, but the setup for that section seems to imply it was Brandon. Can you please elaborate on how that decision was made?

Autocracy Now

September 7th, 2015 at 4:33 PM ^

My take away from the facts presented in the book is that Mary Sue Coleman shares a large share of the responsibility for the problems in the athletic department these past few years. In all her other roles as president she seemed to be a much more competant and rational leader than she was when it came to the AD.

Beyond just liking the man personally, what reasons do you see for Coleman's allegiance to Dave Brandon to the bitter end, despite his objectively terrible performance?

Michigan Arrogance

September 7th, 2015 at 4:57 PM ^

Yes, I'd love to hear the compelling reasons MSC gave the Regents to approve Brandon getting hired. Or at least, what was the inkterview process like (if any)? I mean, there had to have been some sort of vision DB had for the AD that he communicated to SOMEONE.

I'm also curious as to the 1st real red flags that went up after DB was hired and why people like Madej, and other long time respected AD staff didn't try to go above DBs head.

True Blue Grit

September 7th, 2015 at 5:14 PM ^

so we probably won't get the answer to that question.  But I would agree about her role in the problems that occurred in the past few years.  She basically took no action to reign in DB, at least that we know about.  In reading between the lines, it sounds like he just had her totally conned into believing whatever he recommended was the best course of action.