college football

Jim Harbaugh greets the crowd at a U of M basketball game on December 30, 2014.
MGoBlog / Flickr

When Jim Harbaugh was a freshman quarterback at Michigan, he showed up a few minutes late for his first team meeting – a definite no-no.

Bo Schembechler screamed, “You will never play a down at Michigan!”

Urban Meyer
MGoBlog on Flickr / Flickr

The Big Ten entered the bowl season battered from a brutal decade.

How bad was it?  

Michigan’s sworn enemies, Michigan State and Ohio State, had given up hating the Wolverines.

Urban Meyer
MGoBlog on Flickr / Flickr

Ohio State University beat Oregon 42-20 in the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship.

Michigan Radio commentator John U. Bacon joined us to discuss the game.

Wikimedia

Jim Harbaugh will be the next coach of the University of Michigan football team.

UM Interim Athletic Director Jim Hackett made the announcement at a packed press conference in Ann Arbor.

Harbaugh will be paid roughly $5 million a year, plus incentives, over an eight-year contract.

MGoBlog

An analysis by Forbes' Chris Smith values the University of Michigan's football program at $117 million - behind Notre Dame ($122 million) and the Texas Longhorns ($131 million).

Football teams are school entities, so they can't be bought or sold. Smith calculates the value of the program on four things:

University of Michigan football game
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon joined us in the studio today to analyze what happened in Michigan sports this week.

You can listen to our conversation with him below:


Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Eighth-ranked Michigan State is favored to beat the struggling Wolverines by more than two touchdowns.

A victory would mark the Spartans’ sixth win over the Wolverines in their last seven games, establishing unquestioned dominance over the state for the first time in 50 years.

Calling your little brother “Little Brother” gets a bit awkward when he keeps kicking your butt. A win would also preserve the Spartans’ hopes of a national title – something no other Big Ten team can realistically claim.

Michigan’s dreams are more modest, but more urgent.

Universty of Michigan QB Devin Gardner sacked by Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun during the 2013 MSU-UM football game.
User: Michigan State Spartans / facebook

 

 

The spotlight this week is on one of the deepest college rivalries in sports: Michigan vs. Michigan State.

The Wolverines will travel to Spartan Stadium this Saturday.

Michigan Radio's sports commentator John U. Bacon says the game means "survival" for Michigan. "Michigan has lost 6 out of the last 7 to the 'little brother' -- by the way, calling them little brother gets a bit old when they keep kicking your butt."

But, as Bacon explains, Spartans are just as hungry for this game as the Wolverines. The rivalry is so personal that people from outside the state sometimes don't get it. Plus, if they win this weekend, Spartans will have a real shot for the Big Ten title, a Rose Bowl berth, and even the national title.

It was a cold, wet night at the Spartan Stadium last Saturday.
User: Michigan State Spartans / facebook

If you've forked over money for a ticket to a football game, do you have a responsibility to stay there until the end of the game? 

If you are a student, sitting in the student section at a Michigan State Football game, the answer seems to be yes, you do.

Coach Mark Dantonio and Spartan Athletic Director Mark Hollis have been very clear: They were disappointed in seeing so many fans leave early last Saturday night against Nebraska.

There were nearly 76,000 in the crowd at the start of the game, and there were plenty of empty seats by the end, when MSU nearly lost the game. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, the University of Michigan is taking precautions to avoid a repeat of the mistakes that allowed a Wolverine football player with a concussion to re-enter a game last week.

U of M plans to have more eyes on the field during this weekend’s football game against Rutgers.

Last week, quarterback Shane Morris suffered a concussion late in the game against Minnesota. But while the television audience saw the hit that left Morris dazed, none of U of M's coaches or medical staff saw it or took action.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

University of Michigan students are demanding top athletic department officials be fired, in the wake of the football program’s concussion controversy.

Hundreds of U of M students chanted “Fire Brandon” during a rally on the Ann Arbor campus tonight.   Brandon is Dave Brandon, U of M’s athletic director.

The students are upset about many things, from the latest concussion controversy to the cost of tickets. Many students are also dissatisfied with the Wolverine football program’s disappointing season. 

Pascrell office

The University of Michigan’s concussion controversy has reached the halls of Congress.

A New Jersey congressman wants the Big Ten conference to investigate the University of Michigan’s compliance with its own head injury protocols.

The university is under fire for allowing a player return to the field during a football game Saturday after he suffered a mild concussion. Quarterback Shane Morris appeared to be dazed after a hard hit in the second half of the game against Minnesota. 

Michigan Athletic Director, David Brandon.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

University of Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon says the university will make changes to ensure student-athlete safety.

This comes after U of M confirmed overnight that quarterback Shane Morris did play after suffering a mild concussion in Saturday’s game against Minnesota.

Here’s how Morris appeared after the hit:

Brandon issued a statement blaming  “a serious lack of communication” for allowing Morris to return to the game. He says the communication problem involved the team’s medical staff and coaches.

Brandon released the details of the communication breakdown in his statement:

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

University of Michigan head football coach Brady Hoke is on the defensive against allegations he continued to field a player who may have suffered a concussion during Saturday’s game against Minnesota.

Creighton Miller carrying the football for Notre Dame against the 1943 Michigan team. Bob Rennebohm of Michigan (wearing jersey #88) is also pictured.
1944 Michiganensian

Michigan and Notre Dame have the longest running duel among major college powers, and one of the best. But that seems to be coming to an end this Saturday – and with a twist: For the first time, it’s Notre Dame that’s backing out.

The rivalry between Michigan and Notre Dame goes back to 1887, when a band of boys from Michigan took a train to South Bend and literally taught their counterparts how to play the game.  

The 2007 Michigan - Appalachian State game.
user Derrick S. / Flickr

Well, it goes back to 2007, the year the NCAA allowed schools to add a 12th regular season game, for no reason but revenue.

Yes, another shameless money grab on the backs, knees, and skulls of amateur athletes. 

To find an extra opponent, Michigan had to scramble.

When a Division I-AA team called Appalachian State agreed to come to Ann Arbor for a flat fee of $400,000, fans wondered why Michigan had scheduled a team from the second tier for the first time – and, where the heck is that place?

It turns out Appalachian State isn’t even a state.  (I looked it up.)    

Their fight song didn’t instill much fear, either: “Hi-Hi-yike-us.  No-body like us.  We are the Mountaineers!  Always a-winning.  Always a-grinning.  Always a-feeling fine.  You bet, hey.  Go Apps!”

“The Victors,” it was not.

Michigan Stadium.
UM Photography

Saturday brings the start of a new college football season. Michigan Radio’s sports commentator John U. Bacon joined Stateside to talk about what is in store for the teams.

Bacon discussed the re-match between Michigan Wolverines and Appalachian State, the pending Michigan State against Jacksonville State game, and the Big Ten.

*Listen to the full interview with John Bacon above. 

UM Ford School

Last week, I explained why Michigan students are dropping football tickets in record numbers.

It touched a nerve – actually a few thousand nerves.  Not just among Michigan fans, but college football fans nationwide.

It’s all well and good to criticize Michigan’s athletic administration – and cathartic for the fans, apparently.  But it doesn’t solve the central problem: How can they keep fans happy?

Allow me to offer a few suggestions.

Northwestern's Kain Colter is tackled during a game with Army in 2011. Colter has argued the players should be allowed to form a union.
West Point / Flickr


Last week’s ruling made a big splash, but it’s actually very narrow. The decision by the National Labor Relations Board applies only to private schools. Further, the players still have to vote on it, and the university is going to appeal, in any case.

But the players have been very shrewd, starting with their leader, senior quarterback Kain Colter. I got to know him while researching my latest book, and he’s a very impressive young man.   

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

There are many Michigan State University students and alumni celebrating the New Year in Pasadena.

They’re there to see the Spartans play in this year’s Rose Bowl game.

The Rose Bowl is nicknamed “The granddaddy of them all” because it is the oldest of the college football bowl games.

The last time the Spartans represented the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl was 1988. MSU earned its first trip back to Pasadena on New Year’s Day with a 12 and one season, finishing with a win over Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Michigan State shook up the BCS title chase again Saturday night.

The No. 10 Spartans regained the lead on Connor Cook's 9-yard touchdown pass to Josiah Price with 11:41 left and upset No. 2 Ohio State 34-24 to take the Big Ten title and put Auburn back in the national title hunt.

Ohio State (12-1) had the nation's longest active winning streak end at 24 as coach Urban Meyer suffered his first loss since taking over in Columbus.

It was a game that almost defied logic.

There's money to be made around the passion for Michigan football at Michigan Stadium.
Anthony Gattine / Flickr

I’ve often joked that some Michigan football fans aren’t happy unless they’re not happy.  But after 11 games this season, even they could be excused for having plenty to be unhappy about. A week ago, the Wolverines were 3-and-4 in the Big Ten, with undefeated Ohio State coming up next. 

The Wolverines had been surprisingly bad all season -- until the Ohio State game, when they were suddenly, surprisingly good, falling short by just one point in the final minute.  It was the first time I have ever seen Michigan fans feeling better after a loss than before it. 

Still, the heroic performance was bittersweet.

Where was that team all year?  Which team will return next year – the one that got crushed by Michigan State, or the one that almost beat the Buckeyes?

But Michigan’s bigger problems are off the field, not on it.

Anderson Mancini / Flickr

The Grambling State University football team plays in the unheralded Southwestern Athletic Conference, in the division beneath the big boys. They had an 11-game losing streak, stretching back into the 2012 season.

In short, this was not a team that warranted national attention.

But the Tigers finally got some last month. No, they didn’t notch their first win that day – or even another loss. They didn’t play – and it wasn’t due to bad weather or a bye week. The players simply refused to take the field.

user CedarBendDrive / Flickr

No doubt about it — heads are sure to collide on Saturday’s football game between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.

But when heads collide on the field at Spartan Stadium, two neurologists will be on the sidelines, making sure no concussed player gets back in the game.

Both Jeff Kutcher, an associate professor of neurology at Michigan’s medical school, and David Kaufman, the chairman of the neurology department at Michigan State, will be working on the field for Saturday’s game.

According to the New York Times, while many Big Ten schools have medical consultants for their athletic teams, only Michigan and Michigan State keep them on the sidelines at all games.

user Wystan / Flickr

 

Tomorrow morning, one of Michigan’s oldest traditions will be on display. No, not at the Big House, but at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house.

That’s where they’ve played something they call The Mudbowl every year since 1933, the same season Jerry Ford played center for the national champion Wolverines, and Columbia University won the Rose Bowl.

We're deep into the 2013-2013 college football season. Fans flock to the "hallowed ground" of their team's home stadium, be it The Big House for Wolverines, Spartan Stadium for MSU Fans or, maybe Kelly/Shorts Stadium for you Chips. Or, maybe, your pilgrimage takes you to other states. To Beaver Stadium in Happy Valley or Ohio Stadium or Notre Dame Stadium.

No one can argue the fact that, no matter which metric you use, whether attendance, TV ratings, revenue for the NCAA, money into the coffers of the college or university, college football is huge.

But, Michigan Radio's sports commentator John U. Bacon is deeply worried about the future of college football. He fears it may be losing its soul and, with it, the support of fans and players.

His new book is a deep-dive into the Big Ten during the 2012 college football season. It's called "Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football." Bacon sat down with Stateside host Cynthia Canty and spoke about his new book.

user AndrewHorne / Wikimedia

For decades, students at Michigan games were assigned seats, with the seniors getting the best ones. But for some games last year, a quarter of the 20,000 or so people in the student section were no-shows.

So, athletic director Dave Brandon decided to switch them to general admission – first come, first seated -- to get them to show up on time -or, at all.

The students went ballistic.

Yes, some can display a breathtaking sense of entitlement, and they won’t get much sympathy from the average fan, who has to pay three or four-times more.

flickr

With the college football season finally behind us, I wanted to write a simple college football roundup, ending in a sweet little story about a very good guy.

But every time I tried, some bad news got in the way.

The first obstacle was Lance Armstrong.  In case you missed it – though I can’t imagine how – it turns out the man who came back from cancer to win a record seven Tours de France and write two best-selling books about his inspirational story, is a fraud. 

Terry Johnston / Flickr

The people who sell bowl games need us to believe a few things:

  • Their games are rewards for great seasons;
  • They offer players and fans a much-wanted vacation;
  • The bowls are non-profits, while the schools make a killing. 

These claims are nice, and would be even nicer if they were true.

Forty years ago, college football got by with just eleven bowl games.

The 22 teams they invited were truly elite, and so were the bowls – like the Orange Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Cotton Bowl and The Granddaddy of Them All, the Rose Bowl.

When your team got into a bowl game back then, you knew they’d done something special.

But the number of bowls has more than tripled, to a staggering 35, including such timeless classics as the The Meineke Car Care Bowl, the Advocare V100 Independence Bowl, and the legendary Taxslayer.com Bowl.

Michigan vs. Notre Dame. The two teams play their final game in 2014.
Michigan Football / Facebook

Notre Dame announced this week the school is suspending its century-old rivalry with the University of Michigan after the 2014 season.

The only constant is change. 

Yeah, yeah.  We know that – and in case we didn’t, there’s always some office blowhard too eager to say it, as if it’s some profound truth.

But that’s why, the more things change, the more we appreciate things that don’t.

When Carole King sang, “Doesn’t anybody stay in one place any more?” she probably wasn’t talking about NFL franchises, but she could’ve been.

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