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John U. Bacon

Life after "The Hit"

Jun 29, 2018
John U. Bacon

If you’re a casual football fan, or even if you’re not, you’ve probably seen The Hit: one of the most famous tackles in the history of the game.

It was January 1, 2013, when Michigan played South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. In the fourth quarter, with the Wolverines hanging on to a 22-21 lead, Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner handed off to Vincent Smith.

John U. Bacon

Sunday marks my third father’s day. I had no idea what I was doing for the first two and, it seems, little more this time around. But the kid keeps growing anyway.

I don’t care what anyone says. The first three months are hard. You’re not getting any sleep, and the kid isn’t walking, talking, or even giving you an occasional laugh or a smile. But then things pick up.

Teddy was an early talker and a late walker. Imagine that! The genes are strong with this one. Well, kid, welcome to sports writing!

John Beilein at the 2018 NCAA Basketball Championship game.
MGoBlog

University of Michigan men’s basketball coach John Beilein has probably reached his greatest heights – which is saying something.

Since 2012 Beilein’s Wolverines have won four Big Ten titles and got to two NCAA finals, including one of each this spring. No Big Ten coach has done better over that stretch. What’s more impressive is how Beilein has done it: by recruiting genuine student-athletes, then coaching them up to beat teams loaded with stars. Beilein and his staff have pushed six of those underrated players to the first round of the NBA draft.

Michigan State University sign
MSU

John U. Bacon joined Stateside to discuss his thoughts on the $500 million settlement between Michigan State University and 332 survivors of abuse by former sports doctor Larry Nassar.

Bacon very closely covered Penn State University as it worked its way past the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

He came to the studio to compare the two universities, and the different ways they dealt with their unfortunate predicaments.

University of Michigan Press, 2018

Week after week, month after month, year after year, John U. Bacon has brought his take on sports to us here on Stateside.

Talking sports with Bacon has revealed his straight-talking gift of cutting to the heart of the story, of making people understand the struggles, stumbles, and triumphs of those people on the field, the court, and the rink. 

Shea Patterson playing for Ole Miss
MGoBlog / Flickr / https://goo.gl/64qT3b

Last season, for only the second time in Jim Harbaugh’s 14-year career as a head football coach, his team took a significant step backward. After leading Michigan to 10-3 records his first two years at Michigan, the Wolverines dropped back to 8-5, capped by a bad loss in their bowl game.

Michigan had great defense, but sputtered on offense, mainly due to sub-par quarterbacks. Of course, when injuries force you to use your back-up, then your back-up’s back-up, that’s gonna happen.

John U. Bacon

This is the Season of Our Discontent. Or it would be, if you attached your happiness to Detroit’s professional sports teams.

Let’s start with the Pistons.

When Bill Davidson bought the team in 1974, the Pistons were bad and getting worse. But Davidson patiently rebuilt the team with the right leaders, and won two NBA titles. Then he hired new leaders, and did it all again, and won another NBA title in 2004. Along the way, they won nine division titles.

aerial view of little caesars arena
Tony Brown

 


 

John U. Bacon, Michigan Radio sports commentator, joined Stateside today to discuss what the Red Wings should expect in the draft lottery, what the main difference was between watching the Frozen Four and Red Wings games, and why the Pistons have "stalled."

 

John Beilein at the 2018 NCAA Basketball Championship game.
MGoBlog

The Michigan basketball team beat Loyola last weekend and made it to the NCAA finals. That was a minor miracle in itself.

The team had almost no stars – with maybe one future NBA draft pick. They started slowly, with very weak defense, playing one of the nation’s toughest schedules.

MGoBlog / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The miracle Michigan hoped for didn't happen. The Wolverines fell to Villanova last night in San Antonio, and Michigan Radio's sports commentator John U. Bacon was right there to see it in the Alamo Dome.

Back of a basketball player dribbling
MGoBlog Flickr

The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. The Michigan Wolverines were on the wrong side of that divide Monday night in San Antonio, Texas. 

Michigan got off to a strong start in the NCAA men’s basketball title game then the Villanova Wildcats ran away with it. The final score was 79 to 62 and gave Villanova its second national championship in three years.

Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon was at the game. He joined "Morning Edition" host Doug Tribou to talk about what went wrong for U of M. 

H. Michael Karshis / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

For the Michigan Wolverines basketball team, it’s on to the championship game. One last game stands between the Wolverines and their first NCAA title since 1989.

John U. Bacon, Michigan Radio’s sports commentator, joined Stateside to discuss the Wolverines’ victory over Loyola University Chicago, the challenges ahead against Villanova, and also about Notre Dame’s historic victory in the NCAA women’s championship over the weekend.

basketball player shooting near the basket
MGoBlog Flickr

The Michigan Wolverines and the Villanova Wildcats will play for the NCAA men’s basketball championship tonight in San Antonio, Texas. The Wildcats are trying for their second title in three years. The Wolverines are hoping for their first since 1989.

The Michigan's men's hockey team has a pregame huddle.
MGoBlog / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1f2P1w6

This season, Michigan’s men’s basketball team has enjoyed another great turnaround. After a bad loss to Northwestern in early February, the Wolverines were stuck in the middle of the Big Ten – not the station of Final Four teams. But they haven’t lost since, rattling off a 13-game winning streak. That’s how you get to the Final Four.

It’s a great story – so great, it has eclipsed another great story happening across the parking lot: Michigan’s hockey team has risen from mid-season mediocrity to make the other final four.

Michigan players running the basketball down the court with a ref in the background
MGoBlog / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

 


 

John U. Bacon, Michigan Radio sports commentator, joined Stateside to give us an update on everything going on with Michigan sports (and there is a lot).

NSA

Hazel Forrest died last week at the age of 106.

According to The Chronicle Herald out of Nova Scotia, she was one of the last known survivors of the Halifax Explosion, which occurred when two ships, one loaded TNT and other explosives, collided in Halifax Harbour in 1917. It was the biggest man-made blast prior to the atomic bomb. 

Some 2,000 people were killed and many thousands more were injured. Yet, this cataclysmic event is largely forgotten, at least on the U.S. side of our border with Canada.

close-up of a basketball
David Dames / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

 

March Madness is upon us now that the NCAA has announced its 68-team field. Let those who love college hoops plunge into making their brackets. 

James Coller/MGoBlog / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg


    

 

Michigan has won its second straight Big Ten title by beating Purdue 75-66. 

John Beilein (left), Tom Izzo (right)
MGoBlog / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

There are a lot of reasons to like the Big Ten basketball tournament this year – and perhaps more not to.

What’s to like? The Big Ten can boast four of the nation’s top 15 teams, more than any other conference, including second-ranked Michigan State, and 15th-ranked Michigan. They’re all doing battle this week.

Figure skating
Queen Yuna / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Twenty years ago, Richard Callaghan helped Tara Lipinski become an Olympic gold medalist — but I was not impressed.

Sure, he can coach Tara, but who couldn't? She can skate. But what about coaching a 33-year old clod who has never been on figure skates before? If Callaghan really wanted to test his coaching skills, I would be his guinea pig.

The ski jump event at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.
Andy Miah / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Two decades ago, I covered the Winter Olympics in Japan, and it was great. But when I gushed about the ski jumping, women’s hockey, and speed skating, my readers had no idea what I was talking about.

I soon figured out why: the folks back home weren’t watching the same Olympics I was. What they did see was tape-delayed, over-produced, and cut short by an endless stream of “up close and personal” profiles, almost all of them Americans.

Brandon Graham in 2008.
MGOBlog

In Sunday’s Super Bowl, most fans figured the New England Patriots would beat the Philadelphia Eagles, led by the heroics of quarterback Tom Brady, who had already won a record five Super Bowls. 

But in the waning minutes, with Brady poised to lead another game-winning drive, a lesser-known Philadelphia player named Brandon Graham broke through the line, trying to get to Brady before he threw the ball.

Tony Webster / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

With Super Bowl LII officially in the books, former Michigan quarterback Tom Brady is still at just five Super Bowl wins. 

John U. Bacon, Michigan Radio’s sports commentator, joined Stateside today to discuss the big game and the week’s other news.

Belmont Tower at MSU
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

The local coverage of sexual assaults at Michigan State University seemed to fly under the national radar for months, until hundreds of the victims of former sports doctor Larry Nassar spoke up in court. Now it’s a national headline, and will be for years.

Mark Dantonio at a podium
Cheyna Roth / MPRN

 

An ESPN report over the weekend reveals a long-time pattern of denial, lack of action, and allegations of incidents involving Spartan football and basketball players.

larry nassar in court
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

 

While the sentencing hearing of Larry Nassar continues, the top leadership of the board of directors at USA Gymnastics resigned today. The chair, vice chair, and treasurer are all out.  

And there are more demands for the resignation of Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon. While the MSU Board of Trustees last Friday again stated support for Simon, one trustee, Mitch Lyons, has broken with the rest of the board. He says Simon has lost the confidence of the public.

John U. Bacon, Michigan Radio sports commentator, joined Stateside to discuss some of the issues facing the university.

Detroit Red Wings vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Carrie Lu / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

 

 

We’ve had some listeners reach out on twitter to put in a request: talk some hockey!

We aim to please, and the timing is perfect — it’s the mid-season mark.

 

John U. Bacon, Michigan Radio sports commentator, joined Stateside to give us an update on all things hockey, with a side of basketball and football.

Bo Schembechler talks to Jim Harbaugh during a 1985 game against Notre Dame.
Bentley Historical Library

This year, for the first time, the Big Ten failed to place a team in the four-team College Football Playoff. But the league redeemed itself by winning its first seven bowl games – an amazing run. The Big Ten was just one win away from an unprecedented 8-0 bowl record: Michigan versus South Carolina in the Outback Bowl.

Jim Caldwell
A Healthier Michigan / Flickr - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCl0

 

 

John U. Bacon, Michigan Radio sports commentator, joined Stateside today to bring us our first sports update of the new year.

 

Listen above for the full conversation, or catch highlights below.

 

On Caldwell's firing

 

“I've been calling for it for a while. Very likable guy by all accounts. The players love the man. The Ford family, not a small thing of course in this case, loves the guy," Bacon said, "He's a genuinely decent guy, however he did not succeed at the Indianapolis Colts, he did not succeed at his previous stop coaching for Wake Forest in the college ranks, and he failed at Detroit with a fair amount of talent Detroit now has."

John U. Bacon

Time to look back on 2017 – but we’ll spare you the serious stuff and stick to sports.

Even in sports, alas, Michiganders waded through a lot of bad news, starting with the passing of Mike Ilitch. He and his wife Marion opened their first Little Caesar’s Pizza Treat in Garden City, Michigan, in 1959. Twenty years later they had built an empire big enough to support a kid’s hockey league that produced NHL players.

By 1982, they bought the long-dormant Detroit Red Wings, drafted a kid named Steve Yzerman, and started a two-decade dynasty that won four Stanley Cups.

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