John U Bacon on Jim Rome Today

Submitted by Sven_Da_M on December 29th, 2011 at 12:12 PM

Randy and Jason Sklar (UM Grads) are subbing for Jim Rome today.  They just announced they will have John U. Bacon on in the first hour (12:00 - 1:00 pm EST).  They highlighted "Three and Out" in the open and called it a book about all of college football, not just UM.

You can stream it here; Romey doesn't podcast content later. "That's why there's Jungle Insider...:


Rome takes a lot of vacation because he gets a lot of vacation.








snarling wolverine

December 29th, 2011 at 12:24 PM ^

I received the book for Christmas and I've already finished it.  It's an easy read but honestly, it's a lot of fluff.  There's not really that much critical analysis.  It left me wanting more.  The problem is that Bacon seems to have started with the assumption that Rodriguez's coaching is superior and therefore, any failings must have been due to some other factors.   The possibility that perhaps Rodriguez was doing some things wrong in his actual coaching of his team is rejected by the author.

Again and again in the book, Bacon writes about how the players kept letting the coaches down.  When that keeps happening, at some point it stops being all the players' fault.  I work in the educational field, and I know that when my students collectively struggle on an assessment, that's not just a reflection on them.  It's a reflection on me, and a sign that I need to change.  


December 29th, 2011 at 12:35 PM ^

Can you be specific?

I'll agree there could have been a deeper investigation to why the defense was horrendous.  But remember JUB was reporting - not editorializing.  He wrote on what he saw.

For example, in the book RR talks about how the QB needs to take no more than 3 steps.  If a QB won't do that, how else can you teach it?  I'm a teacher too.  And a coach.  And there's some big differences between those two.  When a player has the ability to do something, but doesn't, it's more of a reflection on the player, not the coach.  And then the coach's only option is to find someone who will, or try to change the perspective of the player, which may come hand-in-hand.

snarling wolverine

December 29th, 2011 at 1:06 PM ^

I disagree that Bacon was "reporting, not editorializing." 

I'll give you a very specific example: Bacon chides Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson for not spending enough time in the film room in 2009.  Bacon makes the specific assertion that this is the fault of the Free Press and the NCAA investigation, by making the players too frightened to watch film, even though that is considered a voluntary activity and had nothing to do with the practicegate thing.  Neither QB is ever quoted as saying this.  Bacon just throws that argument out there. 

So let's think about this.  The players aren't watching enough film, which is obvious enough to even a reporter covering the team.  The reason they aren't watching film, apparently, is that they're afraid of committing an NCAA violation.  But it's NOT an NCAA violation to watch film.  So why didn't the coaches tell them this?

In any kind of teaching/coaching field, you can never assume your pupils are getting the message.  You need to see it for yourself.  If they're not showing it, you're not communicating the message properly.  And when you're talking about two true freshmen, guys who have never been through things before, you need to be all the more explicit.  If they needed to watch more film - and it wasn't an NCAA violation to do so - then the coaches needed to hammer this point home.  Maybe Nick Sheridan should have gotten a start or two to send a message.

Ditto with the three-step drops.  If Forcier refused to follow directions, then why did he start every game?  What consequences did he face for failing to comply?  If it was really a problem, why not start Sheridan and let Forcier cool his heels for a least a couple series.  Make it clear that the starting position isn't just going to be handed out.   Any teacher knows that if you don't have consequences for rules not being followed, the rules aren't going to be upheld.  It's human nature - and it's amazing to me that Bacon, himself a college professor, misses this point.




December 29th, 2011 at 1:36 PM ^

In 3&O, they yell at Tate about taking three steps and throwing. Hoke and co. have repeatedly talked about making Denard practice his footwork all the time. There are some big differences between a coach who yells and a coach who teaches, too, and sometimes you need to teach. Witness also the comment of one current player (don't remember who, but not Tate) to the effect that Hoke & co. actually teach them how to play football instead of yelling at them to play football.

Anyway, I'm not sure how often the point has been made, but I think the bias in 3&O is a feature of Bacon telling the story from RR's point of view. He doesn't always agree with RR, but the basic take he has on the arc of events is from RR. If he wrote the book by following around the pessimistic barbershop guy, reporting what he saw, and occasionally talking to the guy's optimistic cousin and RR, it'd be a totally different book, with a totally different take. That's not a mark of bad journalism, but it is a source of bias.


December 29th, 2011 at 12:55 PM ^

I think you are right there could have been more investigation into the defensive problems, but as others mentioned it didn't seem Bacon wanted to be the one putting ideas into the reader's head. He knows football, but he doesn't know football as well as Carr, RR, or the many other people involved in Michigan football. It appeared he was exhibiting the effects of the outside forces or externalities (fractures in the Michigan family, the youth, etc.) on how the team played. He wasn't going to delve into whether RR laid out a better strategy than our opponents because he is not as qualified to speak on that topic, and, thus, wanted to leave plenty of room for the reader to make their decision (which is all you are doing). He covers extensively the externalities and the questions the NCAA's role in college athletics. I love the Alaska part on countable hours v noncountable hours; 9 1/2ish to 106ish.

I think part of the defensive breakdown is highlighted by the fact that RR didn't seem to like micromanaging things (that weren't the offense at least) and giving Robinson that much autonomy with the defense isn't as good as giving Mattison autonomy. Also, love RR's loyalty, but it seemed to limit his ability to have some marquee coaching on the defensive side of the ball. On the blaming of the players, after almost every loss, RR takes the blame for not preparing the kids enough. Also, Bacon mentions a lot of that is too be expected when your team is as young as it is. Youth led to many problems, particularly at the QB.


December 29th, 2011 at 2:03 PM ^

How do you square "RR didn't seem to like micromanaging things" with the scene prior to the '08 Purdue game, when all the defensive coaches except Shafer met at RR's house to produce a game plan that excluded the coordinator and relegated him to observation from the press box with no involvement in playcalling?

Or how do you square it with his insistence on controlling scheme, requiring Robinson to run a defense he'd never coached? Or requiring his DCs to use his personally-selected group of old friends as position coaches?

If there's one thing I think we can safely say Rodriguez did not do, it's turn over his defense to his coordinator. I suppose you could say he turned it over to his position coaches and in that sense didn't micromanage, but DC autonomy it was not.



December 29th, 2011 at 1:40 PM ^

I think the Sklar brothers are hilarious but I can understand why people don't like them. With that said, they're very intelligent and love Michigan. I'd recommend giving their podcast (Sklarbro Country) a shot as it's definitely more fitting of an atmosphere for their style than Rome's show.


December 29th, 2011 at 12:29 PM ^

You must have never seen "Cheap Seats" on ESPN back-in-the-day.  The Sklars dished Savage sports irony before the evil-four-letter got so big and self-important...



December 29th, 2011 at 1:01 PM ^

... he even got in a jab against the NCAA "violations" when compared to the other, more infamous ones since then.

The Sklars actually read the book.  JUB also mentioned how Michigan probably got the right coach, even though Les Miles has the #1 ranked college team and Jim Harbaugh is likely the NFL coach of the year.

All in all, a good segment on the book and THE TEAM, THE TEAM, THE TEAM...





December 29th, 2011 at 1:50 PM ^

Sometimes I wonder were Bacon gets his information.  He just stated on the Rome show that Michigan didn't want Harbaugh or Miles as head coach.  I thought Dave Brandon wouldn't interview with him.  He kind of comes across like a defense lawyer for Rodriguez.  He stated in the interview that he thinks Rodriguez will win at AZ, and makes statements like I guarantee he wasn't asked if he's an AZ man.  He also repeated what Bo Schembechler stated about coaches needing at least five years to build a winning team.   Even though that statement was made by Bo it's not 100% correct.  College football has changed since Bo made those comments.  It would have been shocking if Michigan would have given RR another year.  Especially with A new AD that didn't hire the coach in the first place.  I would love some examples of  major college football programs where the coach had a start similar to Rodriguez's and then in his fourth or fifth season the program was elite.   I'm talking big time college football with all the bells and whistles already in place.  Rich Rodriguez can't even go back home to WV.  I live in Pittsburgh and do business in Morgantown on occasion.  He is hated in WV and I would bet at least 50% of the Michigan fan base doesn't miss him.  WV is his home state and they took it very personal when he bolted.   I find it crazy that some people including John U Bacon think Lloyd Carr and Dave Brandon are responsible for RR's failure.  Lloyd Carr is in the hall of fame and being praised for his work for the new Motts children’s hospital.  His coaching record and credentials speak for themselves.  I would be willing to bet that Dave Brandon is considered by his peers as a really good athletic director as well.  The book was fun to read,  but it didn't change my opinion about him being fired.




Section 1

December 29th, 2011 at 2:34 PM ^

to people like you, is because people like you want to treat Rodriguez like a criminal in the first place.  The Free Press certainly did, and the Free Press literally tried to treat Rodriguez like an outlaw.

You really don't seem to get it.  If you want the end-all conclusive argument to whether or not Rodriguez was a really good football coach who was going to succeed at Michigan in years 4,5 and beyond, you won't get it in Bacon's book.  (You won't get that answer anywhere else, either; you'll get irresolvable what-if arguments, but no definitive solutions.)  And that wasn't Bacon's thesis.  Find somebody else to write that book, if you are dissatisfied.  Talk to your hero Carr, and get him to write a book.  Or to at least get Carr to answer ordinary questions about current books in publication.

Bacon's book was about, "How Rodriguez was treated," and "What was life inside the program like."  Bacon's book was also a deliberate counter-narrative to what thousands if not millions of casual college football fans had heard about things like practice time violations and NCAA investigations, all started by the Free Press.

Bacon's anti-Freep narrative hasn't been criticized or countered, at all.  It is an argument that I love, because I know that it's right.  And it's an argument that I think is important, because we've still got Rosenberg and Snyder and their editors and publisher, still here, still covering the team and the region.

As John says, "The Free Press, which buys ink by the barrel, has not spent one drop responding to my reporting on their story in Three and Out."

As always, this is destined not to be resolved between you and me.  We will talk past each other.  You will say, "My opinion is that Rodriguez wasn't doing a good job as head coach."  And I will say, "Rodriguez was treated unfairly."  Neither one of us will answer the other.  Actually, among some of the MGoRegulars, we've gotten close to resolving it; they say, "Yeah, we know Rodriguez got a raw deal here, and we know that the Freep is evil, but the defense still sucked."  And I say, "I'm not a football coach, so I can't say whether Rodriguez is a genius or a fraud." 

But you should at least quote Bacon accurately, because he has never said that "Lloyd Carr and Dave Brandon are responsible for RR's failure," and in fact he's said the opposite.  He said the opposite in this interview, and you appear to have not wanted to hear it. 

Frankly, I like these kinds of book-promo appearances because they help spread the word about the book.  But let's face it; the Sklar brothers are not exactly a University-level symposium.  The conversation is fast and lively and light.  Care and accuracy might slip in favor of rapid fire entertainment.  And my mostly-serious suggestion for both the advocates and the critics of Three and Out is that this great University convene a symposium on the book, and invite all of the principals who are still available in Ann Arbor to answer the outstanding questions and discuss the issues in a careful, academic setting.

SirJack II

December 29th, 2011 at 2:50 PM ^

Section 1, I understand your desire for the Truth, but for the University to convene a symposium to investigate  and theorize about how a fired football coach--who went 15-22 and fielded the worst defenses in school history--was treated less than kindly by local media and some other people, is hugely absurd.

Section 1

December 29th, 2011 at 3:09 PM ^

You coudn't be more wrong.  It's one of the most popular books in the state, and I'd wager that it's the biggest selling book in Ann Arbor.  The biggest-selling book with direct regard to University functions in... what?  A generation? 

There will no doubt be 100 different book symposia between now and the end of the term.  On such compelling topics as toxicology, cyclotrons, measurements of ionizing radiation, the role of dance in disability culture... you get the idea. 

And this -- I am not kidding -- a symposium, on the Future of Book Symposiums in the Digital Age: 

I understand if you wouldn't want to attend a Bacon symposium.  You might miss a team meeting or a voluntary S&C session.


December 29th, 2011 at 4:16 PM ^

the elephant in the room world, this symposium you talk about would be the best thing ever.  I know I would buy a ticket and make sure I got the chance to ask a question or two.  The problem is, from the President of the U.S. to the congress, to the govenor, to the CEO of your company and mine, to the managers in any corporation, the truth is something that will be forever ignored in favor of the direction of the moment. 

Leaders, in whatever medium never want to talk about the actual truth, just the "truth" they want you to swallow and "buy into."  Bacon knows things he can't say, Carr knows many things, he won't say and the Freep guys know what they did was a smear campaign that worked.  Rodriguez on the other hand, answered the questions he was asked, as truthfully as he knew how to and burned for it.  in the book, it took him until the third season to understand that, when you're in a position of power, responsibility and scrutiny, you answer the questions that are asked with the answer to the question you wanted asked.   If you don't like the question, change the subject or give some useless generic cli'che that no one can use against you.

If that symposium happens I'm buying a tciket and paying double to be able to ask questions with followups until I get Carr to actually answer a couple.