3 And Out - Finished last night

Submitted by ijohnb on January 20th, 2012 at 1:26 PM

Alright, here goes nothing.

I was dissappointed.  From the material that I have read on this blog and commentary I have heard from other readers, I was really excited to read this book.  The excitement came from both the comments of other readers and the perspective I thought the book would bring.  "Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines in the crucible of of college football."  The title implies and suggests that the book would put the Rich Rod era in both a national and historical perspective.  I went into the book believing that somehow my perspective and/or opinion on the Rodriguez era would be clarified, altered, confirmed, something.  What I got was a rehash of information I already had.  If I believed that the book was written for a mass audience with little information or backround on the Michigan football program, than my opinion on the book would probably be different, but the matter of fact way that many things in the book are described (this blog being one of them) suggests to me that the book was in fact intended for people who already knew too much about Michigan football and wanted to know more. 

With that in mind, I don't think the book told me anything that I did not know before.  For a person who supposedly spent so much time with Rodriguez, Rodriguez's actions and words in the book seem so canned, so cliche  , that he comes off as more of a characiture that anything.  Events in the book seem random, and are set forth with little conviction or any insight into what compelled the actors to take action.  (What would compel a man portrayed as so level headed to dump over a gatorade stand after a loss against a good team in a fairly close game when the first year is defined as the '"lose big" year.) The book seems to imply so much depth but never scratches past the surface, of anything really, the games, the players, the coaches.  Coach Rod's ultimate demise at Michigan was his failure to win due to a failure to field a well coached defense, but the defensive coordinator switch is not even discussed, and the defensive debacle only hinted at in some spots with RR saying "we can't stop anybody."  There has to be more to the story, and if you are going to write a book you might as well tell it, some of it, any of it?

I also felt the book was less than candid in some aspects, at least with regard to some key moments.  To imply that the "Raise me Up" incident could have been some sort of random coincidence, that the song just happened to be loaded and ready to go right about the same time that Rodriguez was saying the same words without any aforethought, come on man.  And why would a team so desparate to keep their coach, to the degree of giving him a "thank you" standing ovation, give up on their bowl game to the extent they were laughing at half time.

I don't know.  I cannot write a book (though this post may have seemed like one) so it may not be my place to critique or criticize, but I was underwhelmed, and I feel like I was had to a certain degree.  Anybody share similar sentiment?



January 20th, 2012 at 1:30 PM ^

Perhaps you already knew this stuff because you read a dozen interviews of John U. Bacon and read countless posts about "Three and Out" on message boards before you read it.

That's kind of the problem with reading a book or watching a movie that everyone's talking about already - it loses its sense of originality.

I don't think you were "had."  I think you should have read the book sooner.  Or skipped all the spoilers that have been posted here (and elsewhere).


January 20th, 2012 at 1:35 PM ^

did not read most of the passages from the book because I was going to read it.  Sure, I picked up a tid bit here and there but my intent was to avoid having he book spoiled.  What I was referring to with regard to the information I had going in was the general awesomeness that i was told to expect when reading it.


January 20th, 2012 at 1:36 PM ^

But even reading it back in October, how many things were there in the book that you wouldn't have already known (at the very least heard the rumors repeated numerous times) if you had been part of the blog for the covered years?  I'm sure everyone could make their little list of "that was new to me", but I agree with the OP that it was written for the causal person who doesn't follow every word about Michigan out there (true and untrue).  Which is what it should do, because that book audience is a lot bigger than the "MGoBlog audience".  But I'm not sure we learned a lot that wasn't already talked about on here the last couple of years.


January 20th, 2012 at 1:48 PM ^

I am admittedly not that smart but I personally learned all kinds of new things, especially with respect to all of the background on previous ADs, the coaching search itself.  Most of the big tidbits were exposed here on MGoBlog but there were many, many smaller facts that I had never heard until reading.



January 20th, 2012 at 2:08 PM ^

But what about the previous ADs that was in the book that you're talking about?  More the historical perspective stuff?

I do find it interesting that the coaching search stuff was a revealing point, considering that was the stuff happening before he even started writing the book. But the Blog exploded a lot over those three years, so I can see how some of the early stuff was more revealing than the latter stuff that everyone suffered through.  

I guess I was talking more about the rumors and stuff, which had been mostly rumored around here for awhile, rinse and repeat.  I'm not saying the details of the book aren't insightful at times.  Just that a lot of the gist of the book had been rumored and argued on here already, and it was just someone else saying the rumors, and talking and aruging about it again.  And that I can see the OP's viewpoint.  And that it didn't necessarily come from being "spoiled"...being obsessive Michigan fans "spoiled" a lot of it.  

Now how that adds or subtracts value from the book is another debate, and one I really don't care that much about anymore.  Just that having his feelings are valid, if not the conclusions (not to say they're wrong, either.)

Maximinus Thrax

January 20th, 2012 at 1:43 PM ^

In addition, everyone on this blog was following these events as they happened, and studied them in depth in real time.  We are not the average person for whom this book was intended.  It more fleshes out details of events of which most of us were aware, rather than presenting anything of which we had no idea beforehand.


January 20th, 2012 at 1:49 PM ^

the average person want to know that Rodriguez mandated a change in defensive scheme in the middle of the first season, and fired his defensive coordinator at the end of the first.  And what would the average person take from the reference to "Kittens" after the Horror without already knowing what the phrase has come to mean.  Would the average person have wanted to know that Tate was not merely pulled during the 09 Iowa game but that a fierce and hightly publicized exchange took place afterwords.  That is the thing, it did not ring to me as a book that was written for the average person.  Certain knowledge was assumed but not expanded on, often. 

The Baughz

January 20th, 2012 at 1:33 PM ^

You are exactly right. I finished it two days ago was disappointed. Just like you mentioned, I also felt it was just a rehash of information I already knew. There were some things I learned, but for the most part, I already knew everything that was written in the book. It brought back a lot of bad memories (RR era) and was pissed how RR was treated. I am glad we have Hoke, but just wished RR had more support. I definitely thought there was going to be a lot more information in the book that the public didnt know. There was some, but not as much as I was anticipating. 


January 20th, 2012 at 4:33 PM ^

The book, to me, revealed a lot of new stuff. I have read this blog for about a year and half now, so that is perhaps why some of this stuff was so surprising to me. I agree that if you have read MGoBlog for a while this information is not surprising and is more of a rehash than anything else. It did piss me off with how RR was treated and I viewed the book as more sad than anything. I did enjoy it, and I'm glad I read it because it put things into perspective for me.

Section 1

January 20th, 2012 at 2:13 PM ^

Personally, I was disappointed in this post.  It just rehashed the same old arguments about Rich Rodriguez, using the same sort of misspellings and bad grammar that one might find on MLive.com.  I didn't learn anything new, at least nothing that hasn't been rehashed in almost all of the 200+ and 300+ -response threads that have been popping up since October.

It's too bad, because I was really and truly excited to read another intelligent thread about this great book.







January 20th, 2012 at 2:17 PM ^

Spelling police.  How about this.  if you are sick of reading posts on this topic, don't click on the post that is clearly named as a discussion of this book.  Your post translated, you have no thoughts or ideas of your own, so you seek out words that somebody else spelled incorrectly while typing fast to make a funny.  You are not funny.  You are not anything.   

Section 1

January 20th, 2012 at 2:55 PM ^

And I think there is real merit to it.  I have often thought the same thing when others on this board have advised me: Give it up, dude.  We all know that Rodriguez got treated badly and the the Free Press attack was a bad joke.  Everybody on this board knows it.  If you want an audience, tell it to the people who aren't on MGoBlog, because we already know it.

Well, that's what John U. Bacon did.  He took the story nationwide.  In print.

In fact, I take great pride in the fact that this Board featured so much good counter-reporting at such an early date, virtually all of which has been confirmed by Bacon.  (And almost none of it having otherwise found its way into mainstream press reporting.)  Nothing like having a source with unprecedented access, in a book published by one of the world's premier publishing houses, confirming your story and drawing national attention to one's cause.

For your part, you got off to a good start at the beginning of this thread:

Alright, here goes nothing. 



Nosce Te Ipsum

January 20th, 2012 at 1:37 PM ^

I finished recently and I share your feelings. I felt like the game recaps took up too much of the book and that the focus should have been on Rich's inability to win over the media and alumni. There was so much more that I wanted to know and Bacon undoutably has that information. Underwhelmed was my take away.


January 20th, 2012 at 1:53 PM ^

I feel that exact same way about the pages spent on chronicling each game during the three seasons.  My interest was in the coaching searches (which topic was pretty well set forth, in my opinion) and also on the adjustment period that everyone had to go through.  I was disappointed that Bacon didn't interview more alumni and boosters and ink the results of those conversations.  It would have been interesting to read about the intracacies of the relationships between all the factions in a big-time college program but Bacon appears to be writing to a large audience and on more of a macro level.



January 20th, 2012 at 2:44 PM ^

Keep in mind that this is most likely the only book anyone's ever going to write about Rich Rodriguez's time at Michigan, and if someone's reading this book in 5 or 10 or 20 years, it may be interesting for them to read about the events in the game.  As someone else said, the book's audience is bigger than us MGoBloggers; it will also be read long after the MGoBlog UFR's and such have faded into the nether regions of the internet.  Yeah, someone could Google "2008 Wisconsin vs Michigan football" when they're reading about Rich Rodriguez in 2030, but if they've got the book (or eBook) in front of them, they'll need some sort of frame of reference.


January 20th, 2012 at 3:25 PM ^

I really liked the interviews that Bacon did about RR's time at WVU.  Things like money RR raised being used for other purposes and all the things Bacon learned from the Mercedes dealer.  3&O wold have been much improved if we had the same level of depth given to interviews with Michigan alumni.  


January 20th, 2012 at 1:50 PM ^

Oh crap.  I finished it shortly after Christmas and was suppose to have a thread up around 3:00pm on the 27th and i COMPLETELY forgot it about it until just now.

Damn - now no one will know exactly how I felt about the book because lord knows there are precious few opportunities to comment on RR around here these days.


January 20th, 2012 at 1:43 PM ^

Strangely I finished the book last night as well. I thought the book was great. It brought into perspective how things have changed in the last century in terms of who is running the athletic departments in college sports. I think it showed what Rich Rod really went through and how things happened the way they did. It was tough to read sometimes because I was disappointed in the lack of support from the Athletic Department and the way they handled things. I agree with the first poster, you didn't learn anything new because you kept reading the posts on this website. 

My name ... is Tim

January 20th, 2012 at 2:05 PM ^

Not at all. First of all, I have a lot of criticisms of the book. I'm not in the camp that I believe you're referring to. It's just that, at this point, everyone's had the chance to throw in their two cents. We don't need to rehash it on the board every week, or any time someone else finishes reading it. The book has been out for awhile now and has been beaten to death on this blog. 


January 20th, 2012 at 2:24 PM ^

The review was fine, but there have been no less than 300 threads on this book with some sharing the same opinion that he had. His opinion was not new by any means. I doubt a new thought could possibly exist on this topic. There are a lot intelligent people on this forum. I would be shocked if someone brought something new to the table in regards to this book that already hasn't been beaten to death.

Mr. Rager

January 20th, 2012 at 1:50 PM ^

As someone who became a Michigan fan from choosing to go to school there (I did not grow up in Michigan), I thought the backstory on the Michigan program was great.

Really delivers a ton of perspective about why keeping it within the family is important to our program.  I thought that was the most telling piece of the entire book - the rest is just shit in the rear view mirror, imo.


January 20th, 2012 at 1:58 PM ^

I just finished reading the book yesterday too, and I felt like most of the information in the book I already knew, and the book didn't answer any of the burning questions that I had.

I think the key to Rodriguez's firing was the defense.  The author only briefly mentioned that there was tension between himself and Shafer and himself and Greg Robinson.  Nowhere in the book did he explain the hiring of Shafer or Robinson, or much about the firing of Shafer.  They didn't explain why RichRod hired either of those coordinators, who else he considered for the position, his selection criteria for the position, etc.

The thing that I was somewhat surprised about was how much it seemed like RichRod preached tradition behind closed doors.  He knew (or should have after a couple months) that a lot of what Michigan was about was tradition and why he was getting blasted by the media was because he was not traditional (spread offense, Mich Man, etc).  I think by being more open about that with the media, he could have at least saved himself a lot of grief if not his job


January 20th, 2012 at 2:21 PM ^

and "giving up on RR." Not saying I know, but my sense is the players knew he was gone, were PO'd at just about everyone, and emotionally exhausted. 

Hardware Sushi

January 20th, 2012 at 2:24 PM ^

You answer yourself in your own OP:

"If I believed that the book was written for a mass audience with little information or background on the MIchigan football program, than my opinion on the book would probably be different..."

You had an incorrect belief that the book was written for the type of fan that reads MGoBlog and were disappointed because of it. Part of the reason 3&O got great national publicity when released is because the Bill Martin backstory, the Lloyd stuff, the actual everyday Rich Rod was not not known by the average Michigan TV & newspaper fan, let alone the national media.

I think Bacon's journalist slant leaves you wanting for insight. He provided facts and first-hand accounts & opinions. He's very clear about not speculating or putting his words or thoughts into other peoples' mouths. After reading the book, I don't know how it doesn't prompt you to make your own insights and opinions.

snarling wolverine

January 20th, 2012 at 3:23 PM ^

I definitely noticing Bacon seemingly hardening in his attitude toward Carr as the book went on.  At first he sort of gives Carr the benefit of the doubt when talking about that team meeting before Rodriguez's arrival, but then later on he just flatly says something like, "What people didn't understand is that if the cupboard was empty, it was Carr doing the emptying."  

I noticed as well that in the little bit about Michigan's football history early on, Bacon seems to be priming the reader to be sympathetic to Rodriguez.  He states (without any evidence) that Yost undermined his two successors, and then claims that Bump Elliott must have tutored Bo on Michigan's history before he arrived (the only evidence he offers is Bo's famous "Fielding Yost was in this locker room!" speech).  It's not hard to figure out the subtext there. 

snarling wolverine

January 20th, 2012 at 4:19 PM ^

OK, I'm calling your bluff: What did Yost do to undermine his successors?  I consider myself a pretty well-informed fan and I know nothing about that.  I would guess that the average reader of the book doesn't know any more than me, so I'm not sure how "well-established" a fact it is.




January 20th, 2012 at 7:04 PM ^

The first time Yost tried to quit coaching after an 8-0 MNC season, his replacement (George Little) went 6-2, and Yost ended up taking his job back for another two years. Wikipedia says that Little left to become Wisconsin's coach and AD, but I had been led to believe that he was essentially forced out/would have been fired. Yost's second replacement after that also only last two seasons (6-2, 3-4-1) before getting fired.

Hardware Sushi

January 20th, 2012 at 3:35 PM ^

I think his stories about Lloyd Carr's practice skipping methods are confirmed by multiple, albeit anonymous, former players.

Additionally, if I'm wrong, you got me. I'm sure there are more than just that instance where Bacon gives an opinion. But you were asking for something else entirely in your OP - you wanted Bacon to tell you how to feel and think about everything, so don't act like I'm being a know-it-all ass.

The point of my post is to say don't have preconceived notions about a book being directed at an audience and be surprised when you're wrong more often than you're right.


January 20th, 2012 at 2:26 PM ^

I'm a regular board lurker, so I had the opportunity to read excerpts as well as commentary -- all prior to my read.  I'm also a legacy alumnus who grew up maize/blue.  Fair to say, I knew a bit about Michigan Football prior to picking up the book.

The story of what happened is well known, but for me -- I got more enjoyment reading about the subtleties of coaching a bigtime program.  For example -- I loved hearing about Barwis and the whole vomitorium experience under RichRod.  Really interesting how the cutlure of the team had the gym at its epicenter. I also found fascinating the description of LOI day at Schembechler Hall, including that little bit about making sure the fax machines had toner, etc.  Bacon did a nice job giving a sense of the stress level.

Did I have an epiphany reading this book?  Well, beyond my still not having forgiven the Freep or Rosenberg -- not so much.  But I do feel like I was inside some of those meetings, and I have a lot more insight into the importance of having a united Michigan family.  RichRod was not the only set of feet on which to blame.

All in all, it was a great read -- even with all the background information available to me prior to picking it up.