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John U. Bacon talks Tigers, the NLRB, and Brady Hoke

Aug 20, 2015

Credit John U. Bacon

Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon joins us for this week’s sports roundup.

Tigers returning to form

After a 15-8 win over the Cubs on Wednesday, it looks like the Tigers might be returning to form.

But Bacon tells us it’s too little, too late.

“They’re fun guys to watch,” Bacon says. “Cabrera’s back, Verlander’s pitching pretty well for the most part, so it’s kind of like the team was the last few years, but they are almost certainly out of any real race.”

Dombrowski goes to Boston

According to Bacon, Boston’s move to scoop Dave Dombrowski up after he was kicked to the curb by the Ilitches is “a bit alarming.”

He tells us that the Red Sox wasted no time dumping general manager Ben Cherington, who led the Red Sox to a World Series win just two years ago, because there were at least three teams looking to pick up Dombrowski, “which tells you that maybe the Tigers screwed up.”

The Ilitch family continues its radio silence on the decision to get rid of the former Tigers manager.

“It ended poorly, and now Dombrowski seems to be the winner,” Bacon says.

NLRB: College athletes are not employees

By unanimous vote, the National Labor Relations Board this week declined to assert its jurisdictions in the case of the Northwestern football players who want to form the first union for athletes.

“What it does tell us is that, for now, athletes at colleges are not considered employees,” Bacon says.

He tells us he thinks that is the right ruling, but there’s more work to be done.

“I do hope that the NCAA … continues to listen to [players] now that they’re not under threat [of a lawsuit],” Bacon says. “They should have free meals for all the players, not just the scholarship players. They should have guaranteed scholarships until you graduate. They should have health concerns taken care of. … That’s pretty obvious to me.”

Brady Hoke speaks out

Brady Hoke has resurfaced with his new satellite radio gig, and is speaking for the first time since his firing.

One of his observations: It takes five to six years to build a college football program. He was only given four.

Bacon says he is not sympathetic to that view because the team under Hoke was “going the wrong direction.”

“Eleven wins, eight wins, seven wins, five wins. It’s very hard to make a case for Year Five out of that,” he tells us.

He adds that Hoke replaced Rich Rodriguez, who was let go after three years despite improving his record.

“You take that job, what did you think was going to happen?”