Michigan Rant podcast - Nick B flat out praising Michigan football and bball

Submitted by Indy Pete - Go Blue on October 24th, 2018 at 12:09 AM

I listen to Nick Baumgardner’s podcast weekly. I also listened to him weekly when he did the wolverine beat with Brendan Quinn. As you know, he is a Michigan State grad, and sometimes has trouble hiding his disdain towards Michigan. Sometimes, I have just been a glutton for punishment because his passive aggressive and negative takes towards Michigan irk me. However, they were always filled with a solid amount of truth. It kind of feels like going to a political news source that has a different ideology than you. There is some intellectual honesty to expose yourself to view points different than what you have. And to Nick’s credit (which I admittedly have not always given him), he has completely changed his tone towards Michigan basketball over the last couple of years as Michigan has established itself as a legitimate force. He is changing his tune about Michigan football as well.

His most recent podcast is over one hour and 25 minutes. However, it seems to have pinpoint accuracy in regards to the Michigan-Michigan State football game and rivalry. He then talks Michigan hoops and is nearly gushing about the defense that Zavier Simpson plays along with Matthews and Teske (which was surprising and refreshing coming from him). As previously mentioned - as a Michigan State grad he is one of the few beat writers who actually seems to cheer against Michigan. However, he is impressively objective at this moment and gives Michigan a lot of credit in all realms. It means that much more coming from him because he actually may not want to see these kind of results. This was one of the most enjoyable and informative podcast that I have ever listened to. He has Orion Sang as his cohost who also brings some some intelligent and objective insights. What is impressive about Sang is that he is currently a student at the University of Michigan, and he is simultaneously an employed writer at the Detroit Free Press.

I’m sure this will bring out some negative takes about Nick, Freep, etc. However, I found the podcast so compelling that I am willing to stir the pot and share it.




October 24th, 2018 at 12:30 AM ^

Does he really have any other choice but to sing the praises of both M programs?  I don't think he turned a corner, I think he hit a dead end and walked into a wall of a new reality. 

Indy Pete - Go Blue

October 24th, 2018 at 7:54 AM ^

 It may seem that way on the surface, but he is saying things about the rivalry that we all know to be true. He is the only non-partisan sportswriter to say things like this: 

Coach D started all the pettiness and built his entire program upon hatred of Michigan  

 He talks about the intricacies of the offense and the fact that our offense is on a trajectory where we may only have Alabama as our peer due to the remarkable balance and ability to do pretty much anything.

 He acknowledges that the culture and leaders of this team makes them extremely formidable.


October 24th, 2018 at 8:19 AM ^

"...we may only have Alabama as our peer due to the remarkable balance and ability to do pretty much anything."

Don't count out Clemson and ND.  Both of those programs have pretty good balance on offense and a very good defense.  Not as much ND, but Clemson will make Bama work.  And if Michigan's janky pass offense starts clicking...  Yeah, then we can talk about Bama.


October 24th, 2018 at 12:41 AM ^

As long as I’ve been reading Nick’s articles (admittedly a lot less since he moved over to Freep), he always seems to give a mostly fair take on the basketball and football programs. 

When the team sucks, he calls them out on it and doesn’t write a bunch of trash fluff pieces just to appease the fan base. When the teams truly do well, he acknowledges and praises them for it. 

I don’t mind his writing on the whole.

yossarians tree

October 24th, 2018 at 3:50 PM ^

I file this under the "these announcers really hate Michigan" rant. When taking things in through an extreme partisan lens people tend to be highly defensive re their team/school. I think Wojo does a very good job of praising Sparty when they've been good and taking shots at Michigan when they've needed it. These guys are for the most part objective.

Chuck Norris

October 24th, 2018 at 12:42 AM ^

I legitimately do not think that Baumgardner gives a shit whether Michigan/Michigan State football/basketball do well or poorly. That's what makes him good at his job.


October 24th, 2018 at 2:41 AM ^

If you think Nick B is a good writer or thinker, you need to expand your horizons. How that guy became 'the' Michigan beat writer is a testament to the combined laziness of editors and the public's thirst for any sort of paltry morsal the media will throw at them about Michigan football. 


October 24th, 2018 at 8:10 AM ^

This would be my take too. I do believe Nick has the raw ability to do the job. However, here he is pathologically passive-aggressive. I will continue to challenge him in this regard-as I did in his FP article this morning.  The day he takes on Dantonio and the inappropriate tactics and behaviors of that program and not include a litany of ifs and buts and excuses is the day I give him some slack in these regards.  His Spartanness shows through and through regarding Michigan and any claims otherwise lack integrity and smacks of gross ignorance. 


October 24th, 2018 at 1:21 PM ^

I agree with your basic premise. But at best, Nick "suggests" that maybe Dantonio holds some blame here. Otherwise though, your point is totally lost relative to the berating that Jim Harbaugh takes from all other sources-including the MSU beat writers. Here, it does not require a partisan perspective to declare that Michigan, Jim Harbaugh in particular, is held to a higher standard than anyone else. The "attention-seeking, narcissistic, Mr. Khaki..." gets criticized no matter what. It is impossible for him to do the right thing in the right amount. So here, cutting Nick slack for not criticizing Dantonio and MSU for their significant role in matters such as this hold no weight. Because, if you believe Solari or Charboneau or any of the "objective" staff members of the FP or DN are going to do it...well, you would be wrong. 

I spent most of my 65 years cheering pretty equally for Michigan and MSU...and have appreciated the work of Dantonio and Izzo. However, over the past 5 or so years, what these two have done/turned their programs into has deeply disappointed me. Winning is a wonderful thing-but not at the expense of character and integrity. By far the best coach I ever played for was a person of great character and integrity who used the athletic endeavor to teach his players wonderful life lesson-he was an MSU alum. He has to be mortified with the current state of affairs at State.

Nick is the beat writer for Michigan. It is his job to offer and even defend the Michigan side of affairs when appropriate...here it is appropriate. Michigan has taken the high ground year after year after year and look what it has gotten them. Nick never hesitates to offer criticism of Michigan and I would have no bone to pick with him if he also took up their defense in the face of questionable criticism. And in the face of both the specific and general  current state of affairs at MSU...this is my complaint.


October 24th, 2018 at 7:35 AM ^

Honestly, if I didn't know that Baumgardner went to Michigan State, I wouldn't know. He's not as rah rah or fluff piece dependent as some of the other beat writers, but I feel like he's consistently done a good job covering the team. I've gone through spurts of following and unfollowing a ton of writers, but I've kept Baumgardner as a follow throughout this time. Even if you don't want to hear bad things, you've got to be open to honesty.


October 24th, 2018 at 8:02 AM ^

He does a pretty good job, not great, but good. His Sparty fandom does show through from time to time, and I think he can be too dismissive of M at times, but overall he's pretty good. At least he makes some effort to try to understand what's happening, which is more than most local sports writers can say for themselves. 


October 24th, 2018 at 8:30 AM ^

I hope you don't think that's a good thing...you have not been paying attention. Nick takes every opportunity and more to get his digs in.

I did not grow up a Michigan fan and my partisanship is very light. When our family moved to Pinckney I grew to like both Michigan and MSU equally. Our family had direct business interaction with MSU and we attended many sporting events there. But here, with writers like Nick, I have no use for them. He should have a disclaimer at the top of every one of his pieces noting that he is an MSU grad and he despises Michigan. Personally, I am saddened and ashamed of MSU at this time. Today, the tenor of the institution is an embarrassment to the human race. That their risk management team has been able to skillfully walk them through their self-made swamps is nothing to be proud of.


October 24th, 2018 at 8:52 AM ^

I think Baumgardner is a relatively good writer (far better than the trash writer who took over for him at MLive); but it is easy to see that he is a Sparty and hates UM. It takes him longer to buy into anything good for UM, he is quick to dismiss success as fluky, and he is generally behind on the uptake relative to UM. 

However, its tougher to tell that Nick is a homer because we get nothing outside of hot takes and fluff pieces from other writers. Baumgardner seems reasonable with his takes because he puts some time into them, but it doesn't make him less of a Spartan homer. 


October 24th, 2018 at 8:59 AM ^

Some UofM fans need thicker skin. Baumgardner is great and when he is critical of the team, they deserve it. 


The same posters claiming about his “hate” for Michigan  or probably the same individuals that every week pick Michigan to win by 50. 


October 24th, 2018 at 9:05 AM ^

He recently tweeted that if you knew anything about him, the fact that he went to MSU means absolutely nothing with regards to his job. I don't find that hard to believe at all. I think he does a great job. Does Doug Karsch get this kind of shit for being an MSU grad?

You Only Live Twice

October 24th, 2018 at 2:55 PM ^

I didn't know Doug Karsch went to MSU.  It's not affecting how he does his job which is to be an excellent sideline reporter during the broadcast.

It's not hard to discern that, although he strives for a balanced tone, Nick Baumgartner is not pro-UM.   No major complaints about the guy, but agreed with various comments that pop up about him being Capt. Obvious, and a little too quick to get digs in when the opportunity presents itself.    


October 24th, 2018 at 9:37 AM ^

You should never trust Baumgardner. He was sitting in the MSU student's section rooting against Michigan not that long ago. He's a snake and will go full Michael Rosenberg at his first opportunity. He tried to do that with Hoke and the Brendan Gibbon situation, which Hoke was prohibited from addressing to the media, but Baumgardner nonetheless continued to pester him with questions about it and write stories calling Hoke out for not talking about it even though he couldn't. I will say this much: Jim and his staff have much greater awareness than past staffs of which reporters and beat writers are pulling for the other team. I think most of the fans do too, but not all of them do, and this thread is evidence of that. 


October 24th, 2018 at 10:16 AM ^

You're correct that that is their job. But what he did re: Hoke-Gibbons was over the top. The incident occurred, no charges were filed, and Gibbons was expelled. Hoke was prohibited by university policy from talking about it to the press. But Baumgardner wrote numerous articles criticizing Hoke for not discussing it with reporters knowing full well Hoke could not. It was a total hitjob and completely unfair. But hey, it got him his dream job at the Free Press, right? At some point he will attempt to pull that crap with Jim as soon as there's an angle and none of you will be defending him then. 


October 24th, 2018 at 11:23 AM ^

Because he's a decent sports reporter who did a good job with M Live and was hired after covering Western Kentucky.  He's moved up and progressed and he's done it without Rosenburging his way to prominence.  This is a really weird grudge to have, would you rather M grads like Rosenburg and Sharpe cover the team?  As I recall that went... less than well.


October 24th, 2018 at 10:03 AM ^

Again - the people here who are harping on the fact that Baumgartner is a MSU grad who happens to be an M beat writer are more or less claiming equivalency with Dave Biddle of Bucknuts who wondered why the BTN didn't see fit to point out that Nicole Auerbach was a Michigan grad when she (correctly) teed off on Urban being an amoral shitbag in the wake of OSU's Dildo-gate investigation (can we make Dildogate a thing, please?)

If I can mention you and Dave Biddle in the same sentence, y'all done fucked up.


October 24th, 2018 at 11:21 AM ^

He has been consistent throughout that he needed to see the team win in a big game, on the road, against a ranked opponent, and against a rival.  He saw those things this past weekend and is now relaying that he is impressed, if he suddenly moved the goalposts after this I would get the annoyance, but he didn't.  His criteria has never wavered and again, the guy is objective and wants to see something real.  I have never understood the beef people have with him.  His only opinion of the M-MSU thing is that the rivalry is stupid and petty.

So he's skeptical, Michigan can use some skeptical, but informed in the overall universe of folks covering the team.  He plays this role, he plays it well and I end up agreeing with his takes more often than not.  There are a lot of reasons to be skeptical about the Free Press still, but Baumgardner is not one of them.


October 24th, 2018 at 12:58 PM ^

I'm fine with differing opinions, but he's a columnist-type at a local newspaper, which means he'll 100% change his tune as necessary to get attention.  He was dragging Michigan's football team earlier this year even as they were winning, now he's a big fan.  I'm sure he is happy to write positively about a program, and he absolutely was correct in pointing out flaws.  But when you jump around 2-3 times in a month, and your tone shifts each time, it comes across as carpet-bagging to an extent.  I don't mind his writing or takes, but like a lot of people he shouldn't get too much praise for doing his job and writing what people want to hear even if, perhaps, it's not internally consistent.


October 24th, 2018 at 1:10 PM ^

Nick is a good writer and a good analyst. I think he’s been very objective and fair but that’s soooo different from most beat writers that I think it comes across as negative. He’s been a big upgrade at the freep. 


October 24th, 2018 at 4:19 PM ^

I think Nick is the best journalist on the Michigan beat. He breaks down film better than anyone else and his writing is very good. The only reason people seem to not like him is because he writes honestly instead of kissing Michigan's ass. He does a great job. I read all of his stuff. 


October 26th, 2018 at 4:00 PM ^

I don't listen to or read either of them normally, but it is interesting that the two MSU alums Mike V and Nick B said basically the same thing this week: MSU fans, stop whining, this is EXACTLY what you've wanted for a long time and UM gets to own the narrative afterwards because they won.  I think this is the first time I've listened to Mike V since his hilarious Notre Dame loss rant years back, but I think he's also spot on about the MSU coaching staff, too much loyalty to under-performing assistants.