John Bacon

Submitted by UAUM on June 14th, 2013 at 10:55 PM
I just got home from the Columbus Alumni Club's spring dinner where John Bacon spoke. He is the best story teller ever, ever. He spoke off the cuff about Michigan and mostly Bo for a good 60 minutes. People were laughing, inspired, and enlightened all at the same time. Then he took questions and said that: (i) college football is being ruined by the higher ups (NCAA, athletic departments) looking to keep the money machine going, while the players, coaches and fans suffer; (ii) Hoke is by all accounts the real deal though access to him is quite restricted; (iii) Meyer is serious as hell; and (iv) the 10 year war is back on! If you ever get the chance to hear him speak, go. It is well worth it. Plus he's a very cool person to chat with afterwards.



June 14th, 2013 at 11:17 PM ^

Seems like a legitimately good guy.  I don't think the access he was granted in "Three and Out" was very good for the University, but I certainly don't blame him for asking for it.

Bando Calrissian

June 14th, 2013 at 11:47 PM ^

He's genuinely one of the nicest people in the Michigan family. Honest, genuine, and tells it like it is every time, even if it means not being a homer. That's the sign of a true journalist. There aren't too many out there anymore. He's one of the good ones.


June 14th, 2013 at 11:53 PM ^

I was lucky enough to have him as a professor my senior year in his class "History of College Athletics." He was, without any reservations, the best professor I had at UofM. I learned more about acting professionally, mature and confident as well as and conducting myself with integrity from him than I did from any other professor. He even ran into my dad and I having lunch at the Parthenon(RIP) and took time to come over and introduce himself to my dad saying "I know your son from my class and it's been fantastic to teach him." Just a great, great guy. Three and Out wasn't too shabby a read either.


June 15th, 2013 at 12:12 AM ^

Why didn't you think the access granted him was good for the U? RR was never one to hide anything from anyone. It was actually rather refreshing to see the "walls" of the fort come down, if only for a brief period. There was really no harm done, imo.  Was good read and I think it said more about some of UM's alum than UM policy.   Good guy.  


June 15th, 2013 at 12:37 AM ^

But nobody really came away smelling like roses. Rodriguez oscillated from helpless victim to abusive father figure. Carr got thrown under the bus(for right or for wrong). The divided nature of the athletic department/alumni/former players/monetary backers saw more of the light of day than would have been ideal for the good of the University. It was a compelling read, but if I'm the AD and he comes to me with this idea I laugh in his face and offer to buy him a beer for his trouble.


June 15th, 2013 at 8:21 AM ^

Of course we do! Page views are good for the blog.

On the subject of Carr, yes, he was treated interestingly in that book, but he apparently didn't (for better or worse) respond to Bacon when given the opportunity.

For the record, I'm glad the RR days are in the past. Hoke and his predecessor seem, for the moment, to be in happy places. UMich's recruiting is going extremely well and the future looks bright.


June 15th, 2013 at 10:23 AM ^

He was too soft on RR in my opinion and too tough on Carr, likely because one gave him access and was able to "tell his side of the story", while Carr had no responsibility to deal with some reporter.  Look at the recruiting stats from Carr (granted there was a drop towards the end), to RR, then Hoke.  HOLY MOLY MISTER.  

Thinking back to the RR days gives me high blood pressure.


June 15th, 2013 at 10:40 AM ^

Sure ... holy moly. You have to filter for the black cloud, though (partly self-inflicted, partly Freep, etc.), under which RichRod had to recruit. No other UMich coach in the modern era has dealt with that.

It doesn't explain his fondness of unproductive 'tweeners (some of which are still on the team) or shaky academic cases, but he couldn't have been expected to bring in top classes in that atmosphere.

His '09 class (in terms of NFL draftees) may end up being the best since '04.

Farmhouse Funk

June 15th, 2013 at 1:38 AM ^

He came out to Boston to talk about and sign copies of his book Bo's life Lessens. He was there at The Place and around 3pm he said he needed to leave for his flight we asked what time his flight was he said 3:30 we were like no way you are going to make it so he called his hotel got another night and stayed and watched the game with us and then proceded to go bar hopping with us afterwords. Last thing I remember was us pointing him in the direction of his hotel.

Very cool guy.


June 15th, 2013 at 6:34 AM ^

According to his blog yesterday, he was also going to talk about his new book a little bit during the speech as well - "Fourth And Long: The Fight For The Soul Of College Football". I assume that is what the OP is talking about in his first point (i.e., college football being ruined by "higher ups"), but did he mention when it would be out?

I believe he was granted access to four programs in the Big Ten and he more or less compares their reactions to the growing influence of various people and entities and their money. It sounds like it will be a great read, but I was curious as to how detailed he was. 

gustave ferbert

June 15th, 2013 at 7:02 AM ^

at tailgate parties.  Just observing what he is seeing. I'm sure he's going to weigh in on the tailgating culture.  But what a way to research a project!  Come to think of it, there is a ton of money flowing into the tailgating industry each year. Especially when you see the spreads laid out on the golf course and the Blue Lot. . .


June 15th, 2013 at 8:09 AM ^

He said that he got decent access to Michigan, PSU, ohio, and northwestern to write the "Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football" but he was classy enough not to plug the book and instead talk about M and Bo most of the time.

His ideas of how to fix things were Freshman ineligibility or a minor league for the NFL.


June 15th, 2013 at 9:33 AM ^

on the influence of money in college athletics. Bacon is making money by criticizing others for the pursuit of it. How very academic of him.

Mr. Bacon may very well be a swell guy, but he, like many academics, exploits situations and people's prejudices, to sell books for renown and money. I have no issue with that except that it is hypocritical. He is piggybacking on the very system he condemns.

I would also ask why does he think Yost wanted a 85,000 seat stadium in the first place? More people equals more money and publicity for the program and university. Yost and Rockne at ND made college football  about money and renown 85 years ago. Bacon's criticism is a tad bit late.

El Jeffe

June 15th, 2013 at 10:31 AM ^

So you've alread read the book and know the entirety of his argument, then? You are quite the soothsayer.

Plus, should one only be allowed to criticize something if one pledges to make no money off of that criticism? Seems like that would remove all incentives for social criticism, which probably wouldn't be good for anyone.


June 15th, 2013 at 12:29 PM ^

come from a desire to better the society, not to better your financial situation.

I have no issue with them making money. One has to do what they have to do to make a living. I just find it highly hypocritical for them to rail an exploitative system while at the same time benefitting financially from said system. It undercuts his credibility in my eyes.


June 15th, 2013 at 10:36 AM ^

I'm an academic and I don't act anything like you say we academics do...also, do you think people who work in industry or for profit settiings don't act like this? In the end, advancements in any field, lets say medicine, is driven by money. On the backs of sick and dieing patients, doctors, academics, and biotech companies make money, but in the end, advance the treatment for future patients. I don't see any problem with that.

Your last paragraph is insightful, but the preceeding 2 are just ignorant


June 15th, 2013 at 12:24 PM ^

Corporations are full of ignoramuses granted too much power and influence. But you academics speak as experts when often you have not experienced directly the subject of which you speak. People who sit in ivory towers never knowing the pressures of a given position or the realities of a particular lifestyle really irritate me.

To be fair not all academics or writers(another class of holier-than-thou types) are like this. Some have the humility to admit that they don't know everything.

John Bacon hasn't the first clue on how to run a pizza restaurant, much less an athletic department. So why then does this man get so much credibility? It's like listening to a linguist comment on American foreign policy who has no diplomatic or foreign service background.

It seems that in today's America one need not possess expertise or experience to be an expert.


June 16th, 2013 at 9:19 AM ^

I think that is a bit of an unfair critique.  Jacon does write books for money, but there are much easier ways to make money than writing books.  In fact, that sounds like a terrible way to make money.  I think he loves college football the way it was in the 1970s and 80s, not the bowl system and industrial football complex that we have now.  I think there is a difference.


June 15th, 2013 at 11:02 AM ^

could have been titled "United we stand, divided we fall". Well, we hit the ground under RR and it was no surprise. Hopefully we will learn from this period and not ever repeat it.

Bacon is a good man and had a story to tell that was necessary to hear and try to understand.


June 15th, 2013 at 11:47 AM ^

Why must everyone think and say the ten year war is back on?

For one, urbz will not be there for 10 years. Secondly, NOTHING will compare to 1969-1978.


June 15th, 2013 at 3:47 PM ^

"Michigan won 8 B1G titles in 10 years ..."

... and I'll guarantee you that nationally no one cared. All they saw was Bo and Woody failing to acknowledge the existence of the forward pass (among other things). Provincialism ... it's ugly.

What would you rather have?

A. Two Big 10 titles in ten years with a strong conference, BCS championship appearances in both years, and one championship.

B. Eight Big 10 titles in ten years in a mediocre (that is, status quo) conference,  a handful of non-BCS championship appearances, and a bunch of Capital One / Outback games.

I'm taking A.

Shop Smart Sho…

June 15th, 2013 at 12:11 PM ^

"while the players, coaches and fans suffer;"

I will never be convinced that coaches are suffering.  They have very generous contracts, and that is putting it mildly.  If they don't like the long hours and stresses of coaching at the collegiate level, there are plenty of high schools that will be glad to have them.


June 15th, 2013 at 1:44 PM ^

while I agree in spirit, he may have been referring to the assistant position coaches and the guys who recruit who aren't recruiting coordinators.

Those guys still make decent money (relatively speaking) but they are also the ones who are constantly having to contact recruits (probably during dinner or family outings, who knows?) and busting their asses traveling all around the country and region to scout top talent.

Nick Sparks

June 15th, 2013 at 7:38 PM ^

Ran into him in Sweetwater Cafe on W Liberty (Across the street from where I first saw/creeped out Brian in real life!) right after I had finished reading Bo's Lasting Lessons (RR had just been hired).

I just told him that I really enjoyed the book and he thanked me and just seemed really warm and genuine, I left with an incredibly positive impression.

Still haven't been able to bring myself to read 3&O though, not ready to relive that just yet.


June 15th, 2013 at 8:52 PM ^

The man rules in every aspect. I've had the honor of meeting him once. I've read all of his Michigan related books and can't say enough about what a fan I am. I wish I could have seen this. I bet they ate it up.