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John U. Bacon

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The Lions will play under the Monday night spotlight this evening as they face off against the Giants.

Last week, fans watched the team start the season with a win – amidst errors all over the place.

Michigan's All-American tight end Jake Butt was projected to be a first round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, but a torn ACL in the Orange Bowl made him a fifth round pick. Luckily, he had some insurance.
Maize & Blue Nation / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia wrapped up this past weekend and there were a number of storylines involving players with Michigan connections.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mel_Pearson

This week, the University of Michigan did something it hasn’t had to do in 33 years: hire a new hockey coach.

The last time the job opened was 1984. Athletic director Don Canham heard Red Berenson was on campus moving his oldest son, Gordie, into his dorm room. Canham called Berenson to his office, offered him the job for the third time, and Berenson finally took it.

If he hadn’t, it’s not clear who Canham could have hired. After all, the guy Michigan just fired was a failed former high school hockey coach. Michigan was at the bottom of a glorified bus league, with an empty building, and nothing to brag about.

Some NHL players, like Alex Ovechkin, have said they plan to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics, despite the league announcing it won't send its players to compete.
Jennifer Griggs / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It was recently announced that the National Hockey League (NHL) will not be sending its players to the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The last time NHL players weren't included in the Olympic hockey tournament was in 1998. After nearly two decades, that is expected to come to a close next year when the Winter Games are hosted in Seoul, South Korea.

 Red Berenson, coaches the University of Michigan's hockey team.
MGoBlog / Flickr

Gordon “Red” Berenson"  loved the game from the start. When he was a six-year old kid in Regina, Sasketchewan, for Christmas his parent gave him new skates, gloves, and shin pads.

He was so excited, he called his best friend on the party line – at 6 a.m. When his friend’s mom answered, she said, “Do you know it’s 6 a.m.?”

Berenson replied, “Yes -- but this is important!”

He played most of his games outside, where the prairie winds make it feel like you’re skating uphill. By 18 he was so good, the Montreal Canadiens wanted him to turn pro. When he decided to go to the University of Michigan instead, the Canadiens' general manager warned him, “If you go to an American college, you’ll never become a pro.”

Berenson went anyway.

Ninety seconds into his first game at Michigan, he skated end to end and scored his first goal. He scored 78 more, including 43 his senior year, still a Michigan record. He was the best player in the country.

Empty classroom
Motown31 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Hundreds of Detroit parents angered by school closure threats are having their kids opt out of the state's M-STEP test. They say the standardized tests are used to justify closures. 

Joe Louis Arena during its final season
Cynthia Canty / Michigan Radio

It is the end of multiple eras for sports fans in Michigan and specifically metro Detroit. Last night, the Detroit Red Wings played their final game at Joe Louis Arena, a place they have called home since 1979.

Tonight, the Detroit Pistons will play their last home game at the Palace of Auburn Hills, an arena where they've played since 1988.

The first part of this story, you probably know.

The Michigan men’s basketball stunk so badly two months ago, just about everyone figured they’d never get to the NCAA tournament in March. They had some talent, but other coaches considered them one-dimensional: all offense and no defense. Worse, they said Michigan was soft and lazy – two things no coach wants to hear about his team.

John U. Bacon

The Michigan men’s basketball team just finished one of the craziest seasons in program history.

After a sluggish start, the Wolverines were in danger of not only missing the NCAA tournament, but even the second-rate National Invitational Tournament.

The Big Dance is here! This year, Michigan and Michigan State qualified for the 2017 NCAA men's basketball tournament, but neither had an easy path. And both teams face uphill climbs if they want to make a run at this year's Final Four. 

Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon joined Stateside to talk about both teams' chances in the tournament, but he said Michigan's run to the Big Ten tournament championship was one for the ages. 

Last week, Michigan men’s basketball team traveled to take on Northwestern. For years, that trip amounted to a fun field trip for the Wolverines, a chance to pad their stats before taking on the Big Ten’s big boys.

Not this year. The Wolverines and the Wildcats both entered the game in the top half of the league, and on the verge of an invitation to the NCAA tournament.

The 2008 Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings pose for a group photo on the ice of the Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh.
Michael Righi / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

For the first time since 1990, the Detroit Red Wings might not go to the NHL playoffs.

John U. Bacon spoke to Stateside about the Red Wings' playoff chances and his predictions for Michigan’s college basketball teams going into March Madness.

The 2008 Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings pose for a group photo on the ice of the Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh.
Michael Righi / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Detroit Red Wings have been one of the most successful franchises in any sport for a quarter century, by just about any measure: victories, titles, attendance, profits, and even respect – from fans, players, and executives.

Most sports fans are happy just to see their team make the playoffs. But the Red Wings made the playoffs for 25 straight seasons – a league record.

Mark Goebel / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

In all the four major sports, no team has had a longer streak of consecutive playoff appearances than the Detroit Red Wings.

The last 25 years, Red Wings fans have enjoyed playoff hockey in the spring, but that could be coming to an end.

Derrick Walton Jr.'s Wolverines beat Wisconsin last night.
MGoBlog / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan’s basketball team, led by two strong seniors, was expected to return to the NCAA tournament this year, for the seventh time in coach John Beilein’s tenth year. But after the Wolverines dropped three of their first four Big Ten games, few would have taken that bet.

John Beilein (left) and Tom Izzo (right) are in danger of both missing out on the NCAA tournament
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We're midway through February, which for college basketball fans means March Madness is just around the corner. Many fans around the state are likely saving those sick days to watch the opening round of the men's NCAA tournament, but fans in the Great Lakes State aren't guaranteed to have a home team to root for this year. 

Tom Brady in 2009, quarterback for the New England Patriots.
Keith Allison / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady just won a record fifth Super Bowl Sunday night. He’s now being called the greatest of all time. But you wouldn’t have guessed that 25 years ago, when Brady had to fight for playing time on his high school junior varsity, a team that had not scored a touchdown all year.

John U. Bacon

Today, big time college football coaches are media stars, with thousands of followers on Twitter. They’re rich and famous, whether they should be or not. Even assistant coaches are millionaires. But it wasn’t always that way.

This week in Ann Arbor a few hundred people gathered to remember a college football coach who wasn’t rich or famous. But he’d earned the respect of everyone there.

Western Michigan had a season for the ages that ended at the Cotton Bowl. Unfortunately, for stepping stone schools like WMU, success doesn't usually last very long.
GS Photo | Western Michigan Athletics

It's been a roller coaster ride for Western Michigan football fans over the last year. The Broncos entered the 2016 season as favorites to win the school's first conference title since 1988, as head coach P.J. Fleck had them as a program on the rise.

They backed that up, and then some, by finishing the regular season with an undefeated 13-0 record and becoming the first Mid-American Conference team to be invited to play in the high-profile Cotton Bowl Classic. They gave Big Ten powerhouse Wisconsin all they could handle in the game, but ultimately suffered their first loss of the season, 24-16.

Broncos fans were on the national stage, and they were in a top notch bowl game, which is why they had to start looking for a new head coach.

GS Photo | Western Michigan Athletics

Western Michigan University Coach P.J. Fleck has announced he’ll leave the Broncos for the Minnesota Golden Gophers next year.

Fleck led what John U. Bacon, Michigan Radio sports commentator, called a “dormant” team to a successful 13-1 season. The Broncos were the only team, other than Alabama, to enter the bowl games undefeated.

First, the good news: A hearty four college football teams from the state of Michigan were invited to play in bowl games this winter: the University of Michigan, plus Eastern, Western and Central Michigan. The only top-tier team not to qualify: Michigan State, which fell all the way from a top-four spot in last year’s playoffs to a dismal 3-9 record.

Now, the bad news: All the teams from Michigan lost.

Since the Lions lost to the Packers 31-24 on Sunday night, Green Bay will host a playoff game at Lambeau Field in front of their cheeseheaded fans.
Phil Roeder / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It was a good news/bad news situation for the Detroit Lions on New Year's Day. The good news was before their regular season finale at Ford Field against the Packers, the New York Giants did Detroit a favor by beating the Washington Redskins. With the Giants win, that clinched a playoff spot for the Lions. 

The bad news is that the Lions let a halftime lead slip away and they lost to the Packers, 31-24. That defeat cost Detroit their first division title (and first home playoff game) since 1993. Their consolation prize? The No. 6 seed in the NFC playoffs and a Saturday night matchup in Seattle against the Seahawks, who haven't lost a home playoff game since 2004.

Did the sun set on the Lions' playoff hopes at MetLife Stadium on Sunday?
Gabriel Argudo Jr / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

There were plenty of missed opportunities, but in the end, the Detroit Lions fell short against the New York Giants on Sunday. They lost 17-6 and while they are still sitting in first place in the NFC North division with two games to play, they have a tough task ahead of them.

Watch highlights of the Lions at the Giants below:

As the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoffs, the Lions now have to win three straight games away from Ford Field to reach their first Super Bowl in team history.
meesh / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

The month of December is here and, believe it or not, the Lions are still in the hunt for a playoff spot. Some fans may be surprised by this, but what might be more surprising is the way that they've done it. 

Game of the century

Dec 2, 2016

The Michigan-Ohio State rivalry has long been considered the nation’s best.

But for all the great Michigan-Ohio State games, the two teams never entered The Game ranked first and second, until 2006 -- The Game of the Century. And despite the fact that the century was only six years old, the game delivered, with Ohio State winning a 42-39 classic.

Fans blew up the internet this weekend with their video and screenshot analysis of whether or not J.T. Barrett of Ohio State got the first down in the second overtime against Michigan. The referees ruled he did.
Twitter: @Bluekts_ @nlwolfe80 @TheGambler100

Aside from Western Michigan beating Toledo to finish the regular season undefeated, and Eastern Michigan clinching their first bowl game in nearly 20 years earlier in the week, it was a pretty rough week for most Michigan college football fans.

John U. Bacon joined Stateside for his weekly sports roundup and it was all about football.

On Thursday, the eyes of the nation were on the Detroit Lions coming back to win in the fourth quarter for the seventh time this season. When the dust settled, the Lions were all alone in first place in the NFC North with a one game lead over the Minnesota Vikings (and Detroit owns the tiebreaker over Minnesota after winning both games this year). 

Two days later, the eyes of the nation were fixed upon "The Game" between Michigan and Ohio State and it lived up to the hype.

Desmond Howard strikes the Heisman pose after he returned a punt for a touchdown against Ohio State in 1991. Could we have another memorable rivalry game this Saturday?
Brian Masck / desmondhoward.com

There are few rivalries in American sports bigger than Michigan against Ohio State. However, it has been 10 years since "the game" has been as big as this. Back in 2006, the two rivals played in what was called the "game of the century" when, for the first time, Michigan and Ohio State both entered the game undefeated. That day, No. 1-ranked Ohio State edged No. 2-ranked Michigan 42-39.

On Saturday, both teams will enter The Horseshoe (Ohio Stadium) with one loss each, with the Wolverines ranked No. 3 and the Buckeyes are No. 2. Could we see another "game of the century?" 

John U. Bacon

It was supposed to be simple. Before the college football season started, Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State were all ranked in the top twelve. The three teams were expected to battle all fall, with the Big Ten East Division title coming down to the Michigan-Ohio State game, and the winner going to the four-team national playoff.

Well, the best laid-plans, and all that. After compiling an amazing 36-5 record over the past three years, the Spartans won their first two games, before losing their next seven. The wheels have all but come off in East Lansing, where they’re just playing for pride.

Western Michigan finished the season with a 13-1 record while earning their first conference championship since 1988.
Joel Dinda / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

It was a stunning weekend at the top of the College Football Playoff Rankings as the teams ranked second, third and fourth (the top four qualify for the playoff) were all upset.

One of those teams was the University of Michigan who fell to Iowa on the road by the score of 14-13. The last time the teams ranked second, third and fourth all lost on the same day was in 1985.

Even the dinosaurs at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago were excited about the Cubs' first World Series win since 1908. This one is flying the "W" flag, which is customary after a Cubs victory.
Josh Hakala / Michigan Radio

If you heard the sound of cheering coming from the other side of Lake Michigan last Wednesday night, you were likely listening to (most of) the city of Chicago rejoicing. Late into the evening, the Chicago Cubs won the club's first World Series title in 108 years, in one of the most dramatic ways possible. It took 10 innings, but when the dust settled, the Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in the winner-take-all Game 7. Some have gone so far to call it the greatest game ever. (Watch the highlights below)

Michigan Radio's sports commentator John U. Bacon wrote about it recently and joined Stateside during his weekly sports roundup, calling it a"once in a lifetime" game.

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