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Little Caesars Arena under construction in June 2016.
Rick Briggs / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The city of Detroit lost one of its business icons when Mike Ilitch passed away. Many people know him for being the founder of Little Caesars Pizza, but most know him as the owner of the Detroit Tigers and the Detroit Red Wings.

Michigan Sports Hall of Famer Ray Lane began covering sports in Detroit starting in 1961 and was there when Ilitch bought the Red Wings in 1982 (for $8 million!), and later the Tigers in 1992. Lane joined Stateside to look back at the sports side of Ilitch's legacy.

John Beilein (left) and Tom Izzo (right) are in danger of both missing out on the NCAA tournament
MGoBlog / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

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.

MSU football players.
User: Michigan State Spartans / facebook

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Three Michigan State University football players are suspended from team activities and removed from on-campus housing as part of a sexual assault investigation.

The school says in a release Thursday that a staff member associated with the football program also has been suspended.

Police are expected to forward reports in the case to prosecutors for possible criminal charges.

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.

Former Michigan hockey player Scott Matzka drops the puck at center ice to start the alumni game.
Michigan Hockey

The most compelling sports story of the week was not the NFL playoffs, the college football playoffs, the NBA, or the NHL. It wasn’t even televised.

On Saturday night, the Red Wing alumni team took on a squad of former University of Michigan players. It was just an exhibition, which only mattered to those who thought it mattered. But 2,000 folks did, because it mattered a great deal to a former Michigan star named Scott Matzka

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.

western michigan stadium
User TheKuLeR / Wikimedia Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Western Michigan University Broncos suffered their only loss of the season this week in the 2017 Cotton Bowl classic, but now there's more bad news for the university and its fans.

Head Coach P.J. Fleck is heading to the University of Minnesota to coach the Golden Gophers.

The decision comes three days after the Gophers' head coach was fired for mishandling an alleged sexual assault that involved some of his players.

Fleck led the Broncos to a 13-and-1 record this season and the first bowl game win in school history the season prior.

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.

Western Michigan finished the season with a 13-1 record while earning its first conference championship since 1988.
GS Photo | Western Michigan Athletics

It has been a historic season for the Western Michigan football team.

After finishing with just one win after the 2013 season, the Broncos wrapped up the 2016 campaign with an undefeated regular season (13-0). The Mid-American Conference champions then earned a spot in the Cotton Bowl as the highest-ranked team outside of the "Power Five" conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, Pac-12).

The season ended on a sour note though, as the Broncos played Wisconsin tough, but ultimately fell to the Badgers, 24-16

Wikimedia Commons

Wisconsin tight end Troy Fumagalli made a leaping 8-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter and the Badgers won 24-16 in the Cotton Bowl on Monday to deny Western Michigan an undefeated season.

The TD catch by Fumagalli with 14 minutes left, in the back of the end zone between two defenders, came three plays after a rare interception thrown by Zach Terrell and made it 24-10.

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.

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

DETROIT - Aaron Rodgers threw three of his four touchdown passes in the second half, lifting the Green Bay Packers to an NFC North-winning 31-24 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday night.

Detroit's Matthew Stafford connected with Anquan Boldin for a 35-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds left, but the Packers recovered the onside kick and Rodgers had only to kneel once to seal the victory.

Detroit Lions

The season is on the line for the Detroit Lions as they take on the Green Bay Packers Sunday night.

The Lions have only defeated one team with a winning record this season. But they could still sew up the NFC North division title by defeating the Packers. That would give the Lions a home playoff game.

It didn’t need to come down to this game. The Packers are riding a five game winning streak after struggling for the first half of the season. Meanwhile, the Lions have lost their last two games, setting up Sunday’s decisive matchup.

Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium
Bahamas Bowl

It’s been a long time since the Eastern Michigan Eagles have been in a bowl game. Today, the football team will play in their first bowl game since the 1987 season.

The Eagles (7-5) will play the Old Dominion Monarchs (9-3) in the 2016 Popeye's Bahamas Bowl at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium in Nassau, Bahamas.

The game will be broadcast on ESPN and you can livestream it here.

You can also find live stats of the game here.

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:

They used to play the Cotton Bowl game in the Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas. Not anymore. It's now played in the AT&T Stadium.
user bmendez68 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It’s college bowl season, and around these parts, that can only mean one thing: Rumors of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh going to the NFL!

Of course, that seasonal rumor comes with many other traditions, including ridiculously irresponsible click-bait stories based on absolutely nothing, everyone freaking out because of it, and the whole thing amounting to zero. ‘Tis the season – and will be every season Harbaugh is Michigan’s coach, any NFL team needs a coach, and any reckless reporter needs a few thousand more Twitter followers.

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. 

The ProNav Angler mobile app allows you to set a route and let your trolling motor do the driving so you can focus on fishing.
ProNav Marine

The Next Idea

At this time of the year, we're hearing a lot about the economic power of hunting in Michigan. But it turns out that fishing packs an even larger economic punch. Fishing brings in about $2.4 billion to the state.

Our latest guest on The Next Idea has helped to create something to help anglers come away happy when they set out on the water. And it comes from an unexpected source: your smartphone.

EMU football heads to first bowl game since 1987

Nov 29, 2016
The 2016 EMU Eagle football team.
EMU Football

It's official: Eastern Michigan University's football team is heading to the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl.

Jim Harbaugh pleads his case.
MGoBlog / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The University of Michigan was fined by the Big Ten for comments by football coach Jim Harbaugh after Saturday’s game against Ohio State University.

The school was fined $10,000 after Harbaugh criticized the officiating during Saturday's double-overtime loss to the Buckeyes.

The Big Ten Network tweeted a picture of the conference's statement regarding Harbaugh's comments. 

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.

tyler scott / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The return of professional basketball to downtown Detroit adds another piece to the city's fast-paced economic rebound two years out of bankruptcy, but some say all neighborhoods have to share in the turnaround.

The Pistons are expected to start next season at Little Caesars Arena, which is the centerpiece of a coming 50-block entertainment district in a part of downtown that's already nearly at capacity with new residents and new businesses.

A play during the Michigan Ohio State game on Nov. 26, 2016.
MGoBlog / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Curtis Samuel swept in for a 15-yard touchdown after Ohio State barely converted a fourth-and-one play, and the second-ranked Buckeyes beat No.

Michigan is undefeated and ranked No. 2 in the country heading into next weekend's rivalry game in East Lansing against Michigan State.
Flickr user Anthony Gattine/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

One of college football's most historic rivalries continues Saturday when the University of Michigan visits Ohio State in Columbus for the 113th meeting between the teams.

But this year, there's more at stake than just pride.

If Michigan wins, the Wolverines will advance to the Big Ten conference championship game in Indianapolis next weekend. Ohio State needs to win and also needs Michigan State to beat Penn State in order to make it.

Image courtesy of Jeffrey Fox / Ohio State University

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio Stadium is sure to be rocking on Saturday when the rival Ohio State and Michigan football teams take the field.

Geologists will find out just how much.

They've planted sensors around the stadium this year to measure the seismic activity created by fans.

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?" 

Claressa Shields from Flint celebrates a victory by decision in her professional boxing debut on November 19, 2016 in Las Vegas.
Screen grab from YouTube / HBOBoxing

(Watch a replay of the entire fight below)

After racking up a 77-1 record and becoming the first U.S. boxer to win two Olympic gold medals, Flint native Claressa Shields accomplished all she could as an amateur fighter. On Saturday night, Shields began her quest to conquer the professional boxing world with a win by unanimous decision in her debut. 

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.

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