Three and Out: 100 Pages In

Submitted by 03 Blue 07 on October 6th, 2011 at 10:58 PM

So, I picked up an advance copy of "Three and Out' right after work today in Chicago. I actually left the event before getting it signed, as it was burning my hands, I wanted to read it so bad. In the past few hours, I've read about 100 pages. First off, let me say this:

Oh. My. God. This book is fascinating. It is also informative, interesting, upsetting, and almost Shakespearean at times. It tells the tale (so far) of a deeply, deeply fractured inner circle of Michigan people- former athletes, administrators in the AD, Lloyd Carr, Rich Rod,  Bill Martin, Mary Sue Coleman, many former players, close advisors of Rich Rod, U of M faculty, etc. It's amazing in that regard, just the soap opera aspect of it.

Not covered in glory: the Governor of West Virginia, the President of WVU, the AD of WVU. They come across as just...stupid, egotistical, and short-sighted and petty.

Not covered in glory, part ii: Lloyd Carr, unfortunately. After RR was announced as the new coach, and before RR had ever met with the players, Carr held a meeting- five different players told Bacon about it- wherein he stated that he, as acting coach, would sign anyone's release that day that wanted to transfer. RR caught wind of this and told the AD that he was fine with it, but only if he could speak to the players who wanted to transfer first. The AD actually called the Big Ten office to figure out the rules regarding all of this.

Also, Carr allegedly told Boren he should transfer, and said the same to Mallett. The way the book portrays it, these were not conversations in the "Michigan doesn't want you" vein, but more in the "yeah, you probably want to transfer rather than play for this guy" vein.

This is all very difficult to square with another fact: It was Lloyd who pushed for the RR hire. Lloyd made the first call to RR, unbeknownst to Mary Sue Coleman and Bill Martin, and Lloyd promoted his candicacy.

Since Lloyd wouldn't talk to Bacon for the book, it's hard to know what's true. Bacon admits this. He also says that, of the 20+ people he spoke with who worked with both LC and RR, "nearly all of them uttered some derivation of the phrase 'Lloyd never liked Rich.'" Perhaps that feeling came about once RR got to town, but it likely came about quickly.

Rosenberg: Said, and I quote, to Jim Brandstatter, who goes on record, following RR's first press conferece, that he "hates Bill Martin because [Martin] lied to him," and that he "wanted to run Martin out of here." Rosenberg also said, quote, "that guy doesn't belong here," about RR within a month after the hiring. Bacon seems to think that Rosenberg hated Martin the most (doesn't say why) and went after Rodriguez to hurt Martin and run him out.

Also: Martin bungled the coaching search so poorly that Coleman took it over, Martin lost the respect of his people in the AD, and he was completely unprepared about the entire thing. The sailboat Bill story is true. He got a new cell phone, didn't know how to use it, AND went on the sailing trip the weekend of the Miles fiasco. He was unreachable.

Coleman called him to the carpet and castigated him multiple times and essentially neutered his authority w/r/t the coaching search. Also: Lloyd does not like Miles, said they shouldn't hire Miles, and Coleman agreed. However, once Schiano turned us down, Coleman took over the search (sidenote: Martin never told the "committee" he was going to talk to Schiano, which pissed everyone off) and essentially decided that Miles was probably going to be the guy. Others floated Ferentz; she shot it down out-of-hand, having known him from Iowa. Brian Kelly was shot down out-of-hand as well, for generally being an ass, apparently.

So back to Miles. Intermediaries reached out to him again. But this was also around the time LC reached out to RR. Miles said, point-blank, he wouldn't talk to Martin; he wanted to talk directly with MSC, as he knew she was running the show. They spoke for 90 minutes. The leak/pr issues were paramount; Miles said he simply couldn't make the decision until after the bowl game, but he said "if you ask, I won't say no," and that he'd "never say no to Michigan." Only three people knew about that phone call, yet within hours, it was leaked to blogs. Those people were Les, MSC, and Bill Martin. From there, Miles was boxed in, and said, essentially, that he couldnt' talk anymore until after the NC game. But the impression I get is that if we ever formally offered, after the bowl game, he would have accepted.

In the meantime, RR was offered the job at the Toledo meeting. Bill Martin said that RR should keep LC's assistants to appease LC and the old guard; MSC cut him off and said "No, Bill, you can't ask him to do that." RR said he had to go back to WVU and talk to the people there. WHen he did, he reiterated that he wanted raises for his assistants. The WVU president told him "no. Take this or leave it, as it is." He left.

Also: a big revelation is that MSC and BM promised to pay $2.5m of RR's buyout when they negotiated the deal with him, but they asked him to keep it secret, because they didn't have approval from the Regents to do this. This was one of the reasons that they forced the settlement when their depositions were about to proceed; if that came out, MSC said "Bill and I are toast." Well, it's out now. So RR stayed quiet, and took the shots. He also was upset because he wanted to respond to all the WVU allegations, and thought he'd have his chance in court and/or in deposition, so that opportunity was taken from him.

One more thing re: buyout- many times, RR says that the President of WVU promised him the $4m number was just for appearances, and that if RR decided to leave, they'd sit down with lawyers and work out a settlement at half the amount.

There's a lot of other interesting stuff in here, and this isn't meant to be anything more than me posting the "highlights" of the first 100 pages or so. But my god, this book is incredible. You must buy it. All of you.


03 Blue 07

October 6th, 2011 at 11:08 PM ^

Dude. I am wrapping my head around what I'm reading, and my head is spinning. Like Brian said, no one comes out of this (so far at least) looking too good. Martin, who was an outstanding AD in all other respects, essentially lost all clout and credibility with his handling of the RR hire. I mean within the AD, and within the inner circle of the U of M higher-ups. My head is spinning, and I'm only a quarter of the way through the book. It's hard to even grasp everything in here. It's just...yeah. Head asplode. This book is beyond a must-read.

03 Blue 07

October 6th, 2011 at 11:05 PM ^

It is unclear when the 90 minute call took place to Miles, but I think it was after they'd preliminarily offered RR but before he accepted. It all went down really fast that week that RR was first called by Carr. Within a week, the press conference took place.

There are also dissections of all of the "thousand cuts"," from the missteps RR made (many unbeknownst to him) with respect to former players, to perceived slights, etc. Essentially, so far, the book makes it seem like after Bo's death, there was sort of a vacuum in the Michigan Man community, so to speak, and everyone seemed to think they were more important than perhaps they really were. It's hard to explain, other than to say that we come across as a dysfunctional family. And by "we" I mean "former players, folks in the AD, folks in the Administration," etc. Lots of factions, lots of egos.


October 7th, 2011 at 9:41 AM ^

I think we have a new Patriarch, Brady Hoke. After a couple of years of floundering, I think everyone and every little faction wants some stability and wants to win some games. Brady is the guy that went on the road and talked to the big donors, saying all the right things, doing all the right things so far at least. He is healing the family, leading the family, the Michigan family. He is the new Patriarch.



October 8th, 2011 at 6:40 PM ^

Essentially, so far, the book makes it seem like after Bo's death, there was sort of a vacuum in the Michigan Man community, so to speak, and everyone seemed to think they were more important than perhaps they really were.

Rodriguez said almost the EXACT same thing in the first interview he gave after his firing:

"Everybody's got their own theory of it. My personal theory -- and this is talking to people that were there before I got there -- is that when Bo Schembechler passed away that driving force to get everybody pulling in the same direction may have gone with him. I think there were some battles that were being fought even before I took the job," he said.

03 Blue 07

October 6th, 2011 at 11:17 PM ^

Thanks. I imagine that will come tomorrow, over the weekend. . . or at 3 am. I don't know how I'm going to sleep without reading this. I imagine, though, I won't have the blocks of time to sit down and read this over the next few days like I have right now (work, party to go to tomorrow night/NLDS, game on Saturday in Evanston) so I may not retain as much. But man, this is an incredible read.

Actually, who am I kidding? I will finish this book in 5 days, max. It's really, really, just...gripping.

03 Blue 07

October 6th, 2011 at 11:27 PM ^

Also: Barwis planned to name the weight room after Gittleson. . . until Gittleson talked so much shit abuot RR and Barwis that Barwis had to nix the idea.

Oh, and Rosenberg talking about how much RR cursed in practice, in that article regarding Boren? Guess what: all 15 spring practices were open, and Rosenberg attended. . . 0. It was all based on what Boren told him. Seriously. You'll hate him even more (as a journalist) after this book. If that was even possible for some of us. He looks baaad. Blatant vendetta bad.

Lambeau Schembechler

October 6th, 2011 at 11:35 PM ^

I thought Bacon was great tonight and waited to get the book signed so I could briefly speak with him.  I made it 28 pages in while waiting in line and am excited to read it.  I'm sure it won't all be good news, but I'd rather read the truth than the fluff I'm used to reading in the MSM.

BTW, I confirmed that he absolutely reads mgoblog.


October 6th, 2011 at 11:36 PM ^

So this will probably be taken the wrong way, but....

Rosenberg appears to have violated several codes that a good journalist should abide by.  However, he had two people that he really despised Martin and RR.  And say what you want but he had an instrumental role in the downward spiral that forced them out.  Now I don't agree with his methods, and I don't know if 'credit' is the right word.  But for a journalist with an agenda, he was able to force some of his will on the landscape and future of the Michigan Football World.  It may have been a scheisty way to go about it, but the guy got what he wanted.


October 7th, 2011 at 9:00 AM ^

Rosenberg isn't a journalist; he just gets paid for portraying one.  He is a petty POS who creates his own "facts" and presents them as genuine.  He is a joke and an insult to the field.  It's really too bad there is no central agency to penalize journalists for severe breaches of ethics.  

Bloggers and commenters are expected to have bias, but people who report for supposed "news" outlets are expected to give their best effort to provide honest information.  What really sucks is that Rosenberg was rewarded with a position at SI for being an utter douchebag.

Trader Jack

October 8th, 2011 at 1:56 PM ^

It definitely seems unfair that Rosenberg was given a postition at SI, but you can feel free to do what I have done ever since he was hired there: not read a single word of anything he has written. I haven't yet, and I never will.


October 6th, 2011 at 11:40 PM ^

Not gonna lie, I would take everything in this book with a huge grain of salt since there have been so many contradictory stories its seems a little outlandish to necessairly just believe this one.

Section 1

October 7th, 2011 at 12:59 PM ^

-- If Rosenberg wants to take issue with anything, and if he'll answer questions publicly, as you know Bacon will, I'd welcome it.  But Rosenberg hasn't explained anything yet.  And he's had two years.  His paper won't even publish any criticism of him, much less answer hostile questions.

And lots of people are naturally asking the question, "What will Rosenberg and Snyder say about this?"  I really don't know.  If past performance is any indicator, they would just ignore it in print.  Say, and write, nothing about the book as if it didn't exist.  Some time ago, I had thought that that is what they'd do.

But now I think differently about it.  I think they'll have to address it.  Sportswriter and journalist egos are too big.  I suspect that Rosenberg (whom I have always declared was as smart as he was evil) will have a rebuttal of sorts.  I suspect that Rosenberg's angle will be, "Bacon was an embed."  That Bacon was co-opted by the people he got close to, and who gave him special access.  If there are specifics beyond the general questioning of Bacon's motives, I'll be interested.  And pretty surprised.

If that's the case, I don't mind.  (I really don't think that Rosenberg's got any surprises, although he's had the better part of a year to craft his defense to Bacon's book, which is more than the 12 hours or so that he gave the University to respond to his Freep front-page broadside.)  But if Rosenberg is going to enter the fray in that fashion, then he has got to answer questions.  He's got to be put on the spot about specifics, not general motivations.  People will be able to make up their own minds, when Rosenberg and Bacon each get questioned closely about what they have written.  John U. Bacon should, and I suspect will be, questioned about his book.  My money is on John handling it all very admirably.  Just as my money has, all along, been on the ultimate humiliation of Rosenberg. 

Mitch Cumstein

October 7th, 2011 at 12:25 AM ^

but I'm pretty sure I remember him saying in a radio interview that there is stuff in the book that is heresay and he reported it as such.  So I think one needs to read it for themselves (which I personally plan to do) before running with the bullet points in the summary above. 

03 Blue 07

October 7th, 2011 at 12:44 AM ^

AK47- that's very valid, IMO. I think that it will be hard not to realize that this book inherently is going to be somewhat sympathetic to RR, given that Bacon spent three years with him...also LC's not cooperating and not going on-record is biggest thing missing so far. Bacon tries to defend him and says that even he thinks that there are contradictory pictures painted, but the facts are facts, too... sources- his own players- that validate the story that he held that meeting before RR got to campus. Five of them who were in the meeting. And Judy Van Horn goes on record about it. And Mallett's dad, etc. I'm just saying, read it and make your own conclusions, but there are a lot of sources here. Now, don't get me wrong; so far, it paints RR as walking into a total shit-storm, and him not necessarily being ready for it, and not a lot of it being his fault. That being said, I am sure he looks bad in the book  as well, especially as it progresses.The thing is, at this point in the book, it's not really a ton about RR that jumps out at me; it's about how U of M handled the search and the early (pre-season, spring of 2008) days of the RR era. And it ain't pretty. Bacon seems to be giving the unvarnished truth, no matter who he pisses off. And he is pissing off the entire U of M establishment, I can guarantee you.

Blue in Seattle

October 7th, 2011 at 2:25 PM ^

...that Lloyd Carr would favor his players over Rich Rodriguez.  He understood what a dramatic transition he was forcing on them, and would have offered to help any way he could.  I don't agree with this approach, but from what Lloyd has said and done publicly, I completely believe that whatever he did, he had the interested of his players first and foremost.

As was stated above about Bo's death being a large affect, that is what I've always thought, especially about Lloyd.  Bo being around is what kept Lloyd going, and without that support I don't think Lloyd would have taken the HC job in the first place.  I've watched Lloyd's eulogy for Bo many times, and you can just tell that all the fun and flavor for coaching was gone.  Not that he didn't enjoy his players success until he retired, but he no longer had that drive to coach.  His retirement statements expressed this as well.  I still remember clearly his closing statement of "just not having it anymore".

Anyway, at least watch Lloyd speaking about Bo's discussion with the staff on the 1982 offer to coach at Texas A&M that Bo turned down.  It's at the 5 minute mark.

Between the 2006 and 2007 seasons, Lloyd put all the wheels in motion to retire.  He negotiated for termination packages for his staff, etc. all before play started in 2007, and he announced his retirement as soon as the season ended.  And then immediately was critisized by the media for announcing so soon and making it impossible on the other coaches who might want the job!

Interesting how when Brandon does almost the exact opposite, there is still a huge wave of criticism.  Almost like the MSM only knows how to complain, rather than analyze and report.  Even though I haven't read the book, and I don't have any inside details, I feel that the search for Hoke was anything but a fiasco.  And I think that Brandon was researching for a coach, and I believe that he hadn't made his final decision until after he spoke one last time to Rodriguez.  I also believe that even Rodriguez knew that by the end of 2010, there really wasn't anything he could do to dramatically change the situation and fix all the problems as well as just letting Michigan find a new Head Coach.

My book is on order, and I can't wait to start reading it.  And I hate everyone who could make it to Chicago to get that advance copy.  Well at least I'm incredibly jealous, not quite to hate.



October 7th, 2011 at 9:28 AM ^

I haven't read this particular book yet, but John has a reputation of being a stand-up guy and a top-notch journalist.  He checks his facts, he tells you what their provenance is, and when he believes but can't confirm something, he tells you that too.

There aren't many other people that I'd give as much leeway to, but I'd give John the benefit of a big ol' scoop of doubt.

Mitch Cumstein

October 7th, 2011 at 12:14 AM ^

Was it portrayed as if he was like "OK guys, I'm sorry I'm leaving you, we have a new system coming in, I still care about you, if you want to leave, I'll sign for it"?  Or was it portrayed like "This new guy coming in is an asshole, I'd be happy to sign your papers"?

  B/c the first is a lot more believeable if Carr was the one to push the RR train in the first place, which is also in the summary above.

Section 1

October 7th, 2011 at 12:30 AM ^

I really never suspected Carr of much of anything.

Carr didn't need to "push" anybody out the door.  And there has never been any good reason to suspect that an inflexible attitude or foul language by Rodriguez had anything to do with anything.

Mallett was a bit of a head case.  Boren had a football-freak father who wanted a schollie for little brother Boren.  Clemons wanted to play more, and in a different scheme.

I never saw any reason to pick on Carr or Rodriguez for any of their departures.

Deep Under Cover

October 7th, 2011 at 12:14 AM ^

The whole Lloyd thing makes sense to me.  Lloyd was pissed that none of his guys got hired.  Now there is no doubt he lead the charge against Miles, and I believe that since he didn't get his way he didn't want anyone behind him to succeed (thus the need to "appease" him by keeping his assistants, him telling players to leave even after pushing for RR).  This is what I have believed for a while now and have voiced those concerns.  He blackballed Miles for PERSONAL reasons, putting petty issues ahead of the program, which is why I do not care for LC anymore.

I wonder if the book talks about why LC doesn't like Les Miles.  I am pretty sure I know why...

Mitch Cumstein

October 7th, 2011 at 12:23 AM ^

I feel like outside of the elephant in the room, there are plenty of reasons to not like Miles.  I think unless there are specific things in the book, I think its at least as probable that Carr didn't think Miles would uphold the standards expected as a Michigan coach and would be bad for the program.   But I guess its hard to say.


October 7th, 2011 at 11:25 AM ^

There's a second rumor that Les Miles used some very private information on Carr as a negative recruiting tool, but I have no way to substantiate that.

Personally I think we should say the rumors outright rather than skirt around them like this, but I'll defer to the rest of the board - does anyone think we should discuss them in the open?


October 7th, 2011 at 11:26 AM ^

There are other reasons why Carr dislikes Miles.  The Moeller rumor may or may not be true, but it's widely believed that Miles was told confidential information about Carr's health several years ago, and used it on the recruiting trail against us (by suggesting that Carr would soon retire because of the health issues).  That too is hearsay, obviously, but Carr is thought to believe Miles was behind those rumors.