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.


steve sharik

October 7th, 2011 at 12:47 AM ^

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.

I'll give you some possible answers:

  1. Lloyd insincerely reached out to RR so once RR was here, the "Michigan Men" could submarine him and prove to everyone that "that spread shit won't work at (Michigan/B1G, take your pick)."
  2. Once Lloyd got wind of MSC taking over and wanting Miles, Lloyd got RR and Bill together, knowing that a) BM would want to save face and that b) once the public got wind of it, there's no way we would take a (at the time) somewhat suspect Miles (won w/Saban's players) over the hottest coach in college football.

03 Blue 07

October 7th, 2011 at 1:10 AM ^

Sharik: I think, honestly, it's something like your #2 scenario. Two evils; he pushed for the lesser of the two, and then was honest with how he felt when dealing with his guys after RR arrived. He pushed for DeBord and English- the book says that's what Lloyd wanted, but MSC and BM weren't buying it. His next choice, Ferentz, also was shot down by MSC. Martin initially shot down Miles, but you're right- once Mary Sue took over, she (who had also originally shot down Miles) was going toward Miles, and Lloyd reached out to RR/pushed for RR, most likely because a.) he thought they'd hire him and, most importantly, b.) he was NOT Les Miles.  Also, it is very, very clear that he despises Les Miles. There has to be some truth (one would think) to some of the worst rumors; not necessarily all of them, but that kind of Machiavellian move by LC...he has to have serious reasons. There is also other stuff about other departures, and conversations Lloyd had with those guys after RR was already coach (I mean in the months after December 2007). I can't recall all of it right now, and it's about time I get back to the book.


03 Blue 07

October 7th, 2011 at 12:50 AM ^

Guys, I think the conjecture about Lloyd's reasons is just conjecture, given what I've read. The meeting seemed to fall somewhere between the two scenarios Blue in the Face presents. Nothing is black-and-white in this book. As for why LC doesn't like Miles, Bacon says that  there are lots of rumors, some which are wild (or something like that) which he seems to brush off without mentioning, but he does say that the animosity likely stems from 1.) the time when they were both on Bo's staff, saying that Bo liked to stir up debate among his assistants (again, Bacon really kind of tries to present reasons/make excuses for just about everyone in the book, except Martin and Coleman, so far) and 2.) the shit Miles was saying/doing on the recruiting trail when the battled over recruits. That's all he says. He stays away from the details, but it's damn clear that LC is not at all a Miles fan, and he's not alone in the UM family.

I'd say the overarching idea that Bacon seems to present, and that really seems true, is that the football community was a family. When the patriarch died, all hell broke loose in the power struggle. That's really what it seems like, unfortunately.

I'll look up the passage and update this comment. Hold on.

03 Blue 07

October 7th, 2011 at 1:01 AM ^

On LC and MIles, from page 65:

Carr preferred anyone other than Miles. The reasons have "inspired both honest speculation and ridiculous rumors. The two most likely theories include bad feelings left over from when both served on Schembechler's staff....and the friction generated when Miles took over LSU in 2005, when they found themselves recruiting the same players.

But ultimately, it was less important why Carr didn't like Miles than the simple fact that he didn't, which no one denies."

Three and Out, p. 65. I don't want to quote too much from the book; that seems sketch.

On the meeting ...pages 85-86.

Before RR came to meet his players, LC "suddenly called a meeting for his players." According to "five players there," Carr told them he knew some had come there to play for him, and some had come to play for Michigan. What follows, from the book:

 "but, you're here to play for Michigan. 'Of course,' one player said, 'every coach has to say that.'

But not every departing coach has to say what Carr said next. He told them he wanted them all to be happy, and he recognized not everyone would want to go through the coaching change to come. So, he said, if any of them wanted to transfer, he would sign the form, since it requires the current coach's signature."

Continuing..."it was interpreted by many of the players as a vote of no confidence in his successor before Rodriguez had conducted a single team meeting, a single workout, a single practice, yelled or sworn at a single player, or coached a single game. It was an invitation from Carr, someone they knew, admired, and looked to for direction- the man who had recruited them and promised their parents he would look out for them like a father- to execute a preemptive bailout, to transfer, to jump to the NFL, or simply to not come back for a fifth year.

Certainly that's how Michigan's former director of compliance, Judy Van Horn, read the gesture..."

Three and Out, pp. 85-86

And it goes on to describe the fact that she caught wind of it and immediately alerted Martin, and they intervened by calling RR and the Big Ten. It is clear how Bacon interprets it, and he intimates there and in other places that many others interpreted it that way as well- as a less-than-cool move. Look, I realize that you can certainly argue that Lloyd was looking out for his players, for sure. doesn't cover him in glory. It's not just about the kids, or his opinion, it's also about Michigan.


October 7th, 2011 at 10:38 AM ^

I agree it wasn't cool, and if I was RR I would probably have been upset (going by the summary, I haven't read it). But this seems like an error in judgement on Carr's part. A serious one, maybe, but I would bet Carr thought he was looking out for his players while they were still his players. Bringing Rich into the fold, while it was likely the right thing to do, wouldn't accomplish what Carr was going for (which sounds like him keeping his promises to his players).

Then again, I'll admit that I did/do love Lloyd and I'm putting this here because I'm sure there will be a few things that come out that may not have been errors in judgement.


October 7th, 2011 at 8:57 AM ^

Rumor has it that Bacon had a front row seat in the press box, and when the inital copies of the book came out.. he was moved ot the rear of the box..

Nick Sparks

October 7th, 2011 at 9:05 AM ^

I'm making some leaps, and accept the neg bomb if I'm jumping too far.

Disclaimer about Lloyd being a great guy, done more for the university that I ever will, B+ coach (Brian's words), great record, I'll clap for him when he's honored at games, etc, etc,

No one's perfect, and I think Lloyd Carr's biggest flaw is arrogance. 

It seems from these reports that he just considered himself bigger than the program, and felt like he could freely dictate his will based on what he felt was best.

It's a common move, but I don't feel it's the best one.

(Now I start jumping)

And then you have his teams, especially in the latter half of his coaching career after recruiting cycles came through.

There was constantly complaints of underchievement, the Tressell record (also do to Tress cheating), Appy state, and... maybe this is just me... but didn't those players seem a little bit more "arrogant", and not even good Michigan arrogance that comes from being the best but over-arrogance?

A group is always a reflection of their leader (exceptions after average) but I remember Mike Hart pushing people out of the way at Bell's Pizza at 2:30 in the morning yelling "do you know who I am?" - and Kevin Grady and Ryan Mallet among opther players being regulars at Skeeps. I hear stories about how the players interact with the student body today and how a player would never be at the bar during the season because the fear of Bo they had blows my mind - different eras, I know... And Braylon??

This would also explain the arrogance leading to the team's underachievement on the field unless they really focused (2006, Braylonfest, Cap 1 Bowl)

Like I said, I know I'm jumping.

But while I apreciated the lessons in great literature, I feel that Lloyd definitely exhibited many of Bo's traits (love, loyalty, coaching fundamentals, etc), but he lacked a sort of humility and blue-collar quality that Bo, Les, and Brady had/have in spades.

This book shines light on that side of Lloyd Carr and the program that took on his persona, good and bad, after Bo's death, and it's probably a side that the university would understandably like to sweep under the rug and move forward if true.

Also, Hoke really is magic when you've condisered the healing he's done.


October 9th, 2011 at 3:14 PM ^

There are many in the athletic department who believed that Rodriguez had restored discipline and order that had been lacking under Carr, and that Rodriguez ran the program a lot more like Bo than Carr did. The NCAA didn't like Rodriguez punishing students off-season for missing class (and punished him for it), but did you ever hear of Carr doing that?


October 7th, 2011 at 9:08 AM ^

As for other content, it is good that the full extent of LC's gutting of the roster will be known.  It's also good that the bumbling and incompetence of the Michigan administration, which is no surprise to those who have dealt with them even superficially, will be exposed for all to see.  Also, I can't wait to hear how DB fares.

There is still a large and ignorant portion of the fanbase that will scapegoat RR for everything, but a few of them might actually wake up after the book is out.  I am guessing, though, that most of them will refuse to buy the book, chooosing instead to vilify Bacon for having the nerve to write it.


October 7th, 2011 at 9:43 AM ^

I know there was a thread regarding this a couple days ago, but I don't think there was any resolution to the question.  Are there any visuals (pictures, charts, etc.) that would make the book more valuable to have a hard copy of, rather than on Kindle?

double blue

October 7th, 2011 at 12:34 PM ^

no pictures or visuals.  bacon said he actually had to tell the publisher that "don't worry about a 400 page book not having pictures- this is michigan- they will ead it."



he says his publisher is very high brow and loved this comment. his publisher is now reading sports blogs and told him " you know the michigan alums are really a lot smarter than those texas alums" in comparing the quality of critiques n the blog.


the book also mentions mgoblog and brian by name in a couple of instances.  mostly, in regards to giving brian credit for refering to the appy state game as "the horror"- and he mentions "kittens" as well.


great book- evn better discussion by bacon at the chicago event.   bacon will probably be making a return visit for the chicago alumni association in November - i'll keep you posted.

Magnum P.I.

October 7th, 2011 at 10:35 AM ^

I need to read the book, but it's starting to sound like the Hoke hire was unbelievably saavy on the part of Brandon given how sick our program was. I don't think any of us realized at the time how badly we needed someone who was likeable, good with people, a PR machine, and who genuinely loves Michigan. Hoke didn't have the flash at the time of the hire, but I think he was exactly what we needed. 

Section 1

October 7th, 2011 at 4:45 PM ^ know that on the subject of Athletic Department finances and facilities renovation, Bill Martin performed brilliantly as Michigan's Athletic Director.  Historically brilliant.

I will bet that John U. Bacon has the same impression.

You also don't need a book to know that hindsight indicates that Bill Martin had a suspect record in hiring coaches.  Not just (and maybe not at all) in the case of Rich Rodriguez, but also basketball, several womens' sports (where there are a couple of infamous examples), et cetera.

No AD in the country picks winners in every coaching hire.  I really do think, that if Bacon's book makes Bill Martin look bad, it will be on one or two very narrow dimensions.

btw - There have been some rumblings about the story in the book that a "Committee" had been moving steadily towards an offer to Schiano.  If I am understanding the book contents correctly, I know that story to be true.  And also that Martin seemed to turn suddenly, on his own, to Rodriguez.  My source, a member of Martin's private off-the-books, no-FOIA, no-Open-Meetings Committee, told me that that was their impression as well.  Desmond Howard was on that Committee.  Schiano was effectively the top of their list.  They weren't offended by the quick turn and an offer to Rodriguez; none of them had strong feelings about Rodriguez one way or another.  They were just surprised.  Martin had asked for their informal consultation, and then suddenly turned away from that consultation. 

I gather that Bacon's book goes into far more detail than I ever dreamed of.  But it sounds consistent with what little I knew.


October 7th, 2011 at 4:46 PM ^

What was odd was the juxtaposition of the 2007 men's basketball coaching change - where Martin zeroed in on Beilein quickly and snapped him up - with the complete mess that followed a few months later in football.  How was Martin caught flat-footed?  Did he expect Mike DeBord would be a viable candidate?

Section 1

October 8th, 2011 at 12:11 AM ^

It is a huge, basic question:  How could Bill Martin have been caught flat-footed at the conclusion of the 2007 season?

I knew, from the beginning of that year, that Carr would almost surely not be back.  The year started with Appalachian State, then Oregon, and at the same time, there were the stories -- by no means being spread by Carr's enemies to hurt him, but rather by people who cared about both Carr and the football program -- about a Parkinson's diagnosis.

As far as I know it is largely undisputed that Carr had indicated to Bo that he was ready to retire, before Bo died in November of 2006.

In light of all of that, I simply cannot understand how there was not a better succession plan in place.

And that is a curious example of some kind of dysfunction, well before Rich Rodriguez ever thought of coming to Michigan.

steve sharik

October 7th, 2011 at 10:38 AM ^

...about Bacon's motivation for writing not only this book, but also Bo's Lasting Lessons.  The latter was obviously worked on while Lloyd was the coach, and besides finally having enough credibility, experience, and connections to have access to Bo, and besides any considerations about Bo's health, that book begs a question in my mind: Did an inside perspective into "Lloyd Carr's University of Michigan" motivate, in any way, Bacon to write a book about how Bo believed in character, integrity, and Michigan being bigger than any one person?

I would love to ask John U. this in person, off the record.

03 Blue 07

October 7th, 2011 at 12:16 PM ^

Steve, the more I read in the book, the more I'm convinced that Bacon came to see RR as a sympathetic figure, certainly in the early going. Also, you and I and everyone has to realize that Bacon was seeing a lot of stuff from RR's perspective, personally, because he spent so much time with him.  Also, he discusses his motivations. It was originally going to be a biography of RR, but as time went on, that went out the window, as the soap opera of what was actually taking place had to be told. Suffice to say, and Bacon says this in the prologue, the whole project went in a direction he never, ever thought it would and could have never predicted.

I will say this: there's so much complexity in this book and in the narrative so far, that it's really hard to say anything concrete, black and white, about anyone, other than what I said about the coaching search in the OP and Lloyd's actions.

Bando Calrissian

October 8th, 2011 at 9:57 AM ^

Steve, no need for off-the-record questioning on this.

JUB wrote Bo's Lasting Lessons because Bo respected his work, and without prompting offered Bacon his personal archives to write a book.  That's how that book started.

Enough with the conspiracy theory garbage.  John Bacon is a journalist with unquestioned integrity.  Yes, he's a Michigan guy, but he's also a professional.  He writes for a living.  This project, as has been repeated ad nauseum, started as one kind of book, and with the situation being what it was, turned into something much different.  No more, no less.


October 7th, 2011 at 10:51 AM ^

The Patriach died (Bo) and his kids (Lloyd, Les, Martin, MSC - all worked for Bo or came into U of M with Bo established) fought over control of the family/business. It was ugly, a mess, people were hurt, things went poorly, and someone from the next generation down (Hoke) had to be put in charge to get everyone on the same page. I wonder how DB will turn out in the book, as he's more in the Lloyd/Les generation of the Michigan Family. He obviously couldn't try to lead himself, but his direction to point the program was (especially in hindsight) a very good choice.

From the summaries, it sounds like Bacon is offering people outs/excuses because, well, these are real people. They have real regular feelings. There's never one concrete exact reason why a person does something, and in our own minds our deeds are typically justified. I hope that after the book I will still love Lloyd, but understand his humanity and some of the issues he dealt with.

Section 1

October 7th, 2011 at 2:50 PM ^

I have always wondered; Carr is such a literate guy.  He's someone who has a tremendous personal love of books.

When is Lloyd Carr going to write his memoir?  I think it could be a good one.  I don't like some of what Carr stands for (partisan political stuff, etc., way outside of football and totally OT to this Board), but I think he'd be an interesting commentator on money and the future of collegiate football.  I don't need to always agree with Carr to respect him.

Just as interesting would be if Carr got help with a book, from a ghostwriter.  For me, the really explosive notion would be if it were something like "My Life in Coaching and the Future of College Football by Lloyd Carr with Michael Rosenberg."  Or "The Coaching Autobiography of Lloyd Carr, with a foreword by Michael Rosenberg."

Eye of the Tiger

October 7th, 2011 at 1:13 PM ^

With regards to the Carr/RR transfer story.  

Sure Bacon talked to "5 players," but I can think of another journalist who did as well.  I don't think Bacon would have pulled a Dolphin punch a la Rosenberg, but I do think this is a weakness of testimony-based allegations in a charged and difficult atmosphere.  

I'm wagering there's some degree of embellishment or misrepresentation going on here, in terms of what people told Bacon.  I'm sure Carr did tell the players he would sign transfers if they wanted out, but this isn't the same as urging them to transfer ahead of the coach's arrival.  

With Mallet, we know that he left as soon as RR's serious pursuit of Pryor became known.  It's easy to see why: why would a top pro-style, statue-style QB stay if the coach was recruiting a top spread, dual-threat QB prospect for his spread system that requires a dual-threat QB?

If there's smoke, it's with Boren, not Mallet.  



October 7th, 2011 at 3:14 PM ^

There's plenty of smoke with Mallett.  Devin Gardner came and is staying even though he knows he is behind Denard.  If Mallett had stayed, there is no reason to believe that he would not have had a chance to play, even if Pryor did decide to come.  In addition, he would have had plenty of time to decide to transfer after Pryor made his decision.

What is troubling is that this makes Carr look as if he considered himself bigger or more important (at least to himself) than the program.

Eye of the Tiger

October 8th, 2011 at 5:21 PM ^

It makes it look as if people close to Rodriguez perceived Carr as seeing himself as more important than the program.  It's still hearsay, and still allegations from people with vested interests.  It's no different from Boren's "family values" statement in that regard.  

And as far as Mallet and Gardner are concerned, I'm not sure what point of the comparison is there.  Is Pryor supposed to be Gardner, or is Mallet?  Mallet saw that RR wanted a different kind of quarterback, that he was hotly pursuing one, and that if they landed that QB, Mallet would likely be second string.  Then he had Bobby Petrino coming in to Arkansas, where he knew he'd be able to shine.  Your comparison makes no sense at all, given all that.