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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.

A football field.
user: Michael Knight / Flickr

Students in Michigan's public schools are back at their desks.

 And for young football players, soccer players and other athletes around the state, practice has been happening in earnest for weeks. This will be the first school sports season under Michigan's new sports concussion law.  We wanted to find out what it will mean to student athletes, their coaches and their parents. Laura Rowen joined us today. She's an injury prevention consultant with the Michigan Department of Community Health. Listen to the audio above.

State of Michigan

State wildlife officials continue to prepare for this fall’s controversial wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula.

The hunt is set to begin in three zones in the U.P. in mid-November.

Hunters will try to kill 43 wolves during the hunt. There are fewer than 700 adult wolves in the Upper Peninsula.

Adam Bump is with the Department of Natural Resources. He says they are still working on the logistics for the hunt, including putting hunting licenses up for sale at the end of September.

Crim Festival of Races

Thousands of runners will take to the streets of Flint tonight and tomorrow. 

Started in the late 1970’s, the Crim has grown into the fifth largest 10-mile road race in the country.

Andrew Younger is the race director for the Crim Fitness Festival of Races. He says they’ve made some changes to the course this year to avoid conflicts with traffic flowing into and out of downtown Flint.

“The first two miles are different this year…and the reasons are we really want to improve the experience for all runners,” says Younger. 

Flickr user tinatruelove / flickr

What comes to mind when you think about women playing baseball?

You might think of Tom Hanks yelling “There’s no crying in baseball!” in the 1992 film "A League of their Own."

Well there is a women’s softball team in West Michigan that would be more than happy to show that they don’t cry and they can play. Some of them have been on the team together for more than 40 years.

Joining us now is Lynn Schweibert. She has been playing on the same team in West Michigan with three other women for the past four decades. Her daughter Leslie Reimink also plays on the team. They joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Julian Carvajal / Flickr

When I started in tee-ball, I was so short that if the catcher put the tee on the far corner of the plate, I couldn’t reach it.  Yes, I struck out – in tee ball.  


Our first year of live pitching wasn’t any better. One game we were beating the other team so badly, they were about to trigger the “Mercy Rule,” and end the game. Coach Van pulled me in from my post in right field – where I kept company with the dandelions – and told me to pitch. I wasn’t a pitcher – I wanted to be a catcher, like Bill Freehan -- but I’m thinking, “This is my chance.”  I walked three batters, but miraculously got three outs. We won – and I figured that was my stepping stone to greater things.

I was surprised my dad wasn’t as happy as I was. He knew better – but he didn’t tell me until years later: Coach Van was not putting me in to finish the game. He was putting me in to get shelled, so the game would keep going. He was putting me in to fail.  

Keith Allison / Flickr

Update 4:30 pm

Jhonny Peralta said the following about his suspension in a press release this afternoon:

“In spring of 2012, I made a terrible mistake that I deeply regret. I apologize to everyone that I have hurt as a result of my mistake, including my teammates, the Tigers’ organization, the great fans in Detroit, Major League Baseball, and my family. I take full responsibility for my actions, have no excuses for my lapse in judgment and I accept my suspension.

I love the fans, my teammates and this organization and my greatest punishment is knowing that I have let so many good people down. I promise to do everything possible to try and earn back the respect that I have lost.”

Additionally, the Detroit Tigers released the following statement on Peralta's suspension:

"We recognize the suspension of Jhonny Peralta for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program as a measure taken in the best interest of the game. The Detroit Tigers continue to fully support Major League Baseball's policy and its efforts to eliminate performance enhancing drugs from our game. Per the protocol outline by Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement, the Tigers' organization will provide no further comment on Peralta’s suspension."

ibnlive.in.com

Michigan State University is hosting the quadrennial World Dwarf Games.

The Olympics-style athletic event is drawing more than 400 athletes from 17 countries.

Mike Cekanor is with the Dwarf Athletic Association of America. He says the games are a great showcase for dwarf athletes.

“I think in a lot of ways at times are athletes are overlooked,” says Cekanor, “But at the same time, I think when folks really get to know and appreciate what our athletes are capable of that they are very well respected.”

TEDxUofM / Vimeo

 Jon Falk first met football coach Bo Schembechler in 1967.  Falk was a freshman working in the equipment room at Miami of Ohio, and Schembechler was the head coach. Schembechler seemed pretty gruff to Falk, so he avoided him. That was not going to work for long. 

Falk graduated from Miami in 1971 and stayed on as the football team’s assistant equipment manager. He lived at home with his mother and his grandmother and took care of them. In 1974 Bo invited Falk to interview in Ann Arbor. Falk had never lived anywhere but tiny Oxford, Ohio, so he was a little apprehensive about going to such a big place.

When he returned, he told his mother and grandmother that he was going to turn down Coach Schembechler’s offer because he did not want to leave the two of them by themselves. That night, around four in the morning, Falk’s mother came into his room, crying. She said it hurt her to say it, but he must go to Michigan. “I know Coach Schembechler will take care of you.”

Patrick Gibson / Flickr

While the first bankruptcy hearing for Detroit was underway, state economic development officials approved big incentives for developers to build a new sports complex in the city. The project includes a new hockey arena for the Detroit Red Wings. It would be within walking distance of the city’s football and baseball stadiums.

Michael Finney is the president of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

“Our job is to find every opportunity that we think will allow for more and better jobs and a future for our kids in this state, and this is one of those projects and it has every potential for a positive impact in Detroit,” he says.

The city’s downtown development authority would capture a share of local property taxes to help with public financing for the project.

XGamesDetroit / YouTube

Detroit won’t be hosting the X Games after all.

Organizer ESPN has decided to take the annual action sports festival to Austin, Texas for a four-year stretch starting next year.

That’s despite a spirited, grassroots bid by Detroit bid organizers—the #XG2D (translation: X Games to Detroit) movement—to bring the games to the Motor City. Here's a promotional video the group made:

Matthew Lewis / Model D

We mentioned this morning that despite Detroit's troubles, there are plenty of things in the city to cheer about.

One of those things is the Detroit City Futbol Club.

The team just completed an undefeated regular season thanks to skilled players and an enthusiastic fan base who loudly cheer on the team they call "Le Rouge."

The fans are not "hooligans," those people are violent. But the "Northern Guard" (as they are known) do like to set off smoke bombs when the team scores.

University of Exeter / Flickr

Summer time, and the livin' is easy.

But not if you have children. Nowadays, you have to drive your kid to soccer camp and band camp, to this lesson and that clinic, to make sure they never have a single un-programmed minute of summer to themselves.

Yes, something is gained from all this -- like structure and safety -- but something is lost, too. You see a basket in every driveway, but no one playing on them. Without their own games, kids never learn how to settle their own arguments. Does any ten-year-old know what a "do-over" is?

user seabamirum / Flickr

I first met Mike Lapprich when I was an assistant hockey coach at Ann Arbor Huron High School, and he was just a ninth grader.  He was a big kid with a baby face, a shy guy with an easy smile – an oversized puppy. 

I came back five years later as the head coach, when Lapper, as we all called him, had just finished his first year as an assistant coach, at age 18.

When I met the returning captain that summer, he brought a list of talking points.  The first: “You have no idea what you’re getting into.”  The second: “Lapper’s our man.  He’s the guy we trust.  Keep him, and treat him right.” 

DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit Red Wings and city officials have announced a $650 million plan for a new arena for the NHL team in Detroit's downtown entertainment and sports district.

Plans for the 18,000-seat arena were announced Wednesday at a meeting of economic development officials to approve the deal. Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch has long said he wanted a replacement for the 32-year-old Joe Louis Arena.

Flickr

Bring the X-Games for 2014 to Detroit.

That's what an impassioned pair of Detroit boosters is saying to ESPN.

They've launched an all-out campaign to get the sports network to choose the Motor City over three other contenders for the summer 2014 X-Games, which are ESPN's extreme sports answer to the Olympics.

Kevin Krease and Garret Koehler are the ones responsible for this bid to win over ESPN.

The two joined us in the studio to talk about their campaign.

Listen to the full interview above.

Ohio State University

Ohio State University president Gordon Gee’s ability to put money in the bank was equaled only by his ability to put his foot in his mouth.  Well, this week he was finally fired – er, retired, entirely voluntarily, of course, not pushed at all.  Nooo.    

Gee has delivered a seemingly endless stream of gaffes, slanders and just plain stupid comments, which culminated in his unexpected departure.  In politics, they say, when a man is shooting himself in the foot, don’t grab the gun.  In that spirit, I’ll let the man’s words speak for themselves.

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Brooms up! This weekend in Genesee County there will be a big exhibition match of quidditch. Yes, that's the sport played by the witches and wizards of the Harry Potter novels.

Since true witches and wizards are in fairly short supply around these parts, this will be Muggle Quidditch, “muggle” being the name applied to all of us non-magical types.

College players from the University of Michigan, Michigan State, Eastern, Miami of Ohio and more will be playing the game at the Deer Run Soccer Complex in Linden Township.

Krystina Packard, a former quidditch player with Michigan State, joined us in the studio to tell us how a game that was created in the imaginative mind of author J.K. Rowling has become a surprisingly serious sport for these muggles.

Listen to the full interview above.

Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta has been named as among those who could be suspended for using performance enhancing drugs.

user: All your picture are belong to us / Flickr

Wednesday night the Detroit Red Wings lost their final playoff game of the season to the Chicago Blackhawks, breaking the hearts of hockey fans across Michigan.  But according to Michigan Radio Sports Commentator John U. Bacon, it was still a series to savor.

Most sports fans are happy just to see their team make the playoffs. But Detroit Red Wings fans have been able to take that for granted for a record 22 straight seasons.  The last time the Red Wings didn’t make the playoffs, 1990, not one current NHL player was in the league.  Some of the current Red Wings weren’t born.  Nine current franchises weren’t yet created.  

But the record seemed doomed to be broken this season.

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Tomorrow night will bring Game Four in the Western Conference semifinals between the Detroit Red Wings and archrivals Chicago Blackhawks.

The Wings handed the Blackhawks a pair of stinging losses in Games Two and Three, so tomorrow night’s game at the Joe finds the Wings up two games to one.

John Keating covers the Red Wings for Fox Sports Detroit, and he has done so for many years, so he’s seen this team through its ups and downs. He joined us today in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

Fabric-Guy / Creative Commons

“This year, by far, will be the largest security force that we’ve had for a 5th/3rd River Bank run to date,” Grand Rapids Police Chief Kevin Belk told city commissioners Tuesday.

21,000 runners are registered for the race.

He’s coordinating security with the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and five police forces from neighboring communities.

Belk says Michigan State Police will fly helicopters overhead and use bomb-sniffing canine units

user migbcn / Flickr

We have seen droughts in sports in this state, that is for sure.

The last time the Lions won the NFL championship, for example, was 1957. Well, there’s been a similar drought in the world of bowling leagues, but that might be about to end.

Mel Shannon’s been bowling with the Knights of Columbus Men’s League in Ann Arbor for about as long as anyone can remember.

Last time Mel won the championship was 46 years ago - 1967.

But, Mel is on the verge of winning the championship again tonight.

Mel is a Word II veteran who is 87 years young and he stopped by the studio along with John Kennard - who is also part of the K of C men's bowling league.

Listen to the full interview above.

According to Forbes, the Detroit Pistons bring in $154 million in revenue
Kevin Ward / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Marc Stein of ESPN was the first to report the news:

The Detroit Pistons, as widely expected, fired coach Lawrence Frank on Thursday.

The dismissal of Frank has been expected for some time, after the young Pistons lost 27 of 36 games in the second half of the season before winning four of their final five.

Frank guided the Pistons to a 29-53 mark this season and was 54-94 overall in two campaigns.

Stein reports Frank "went to the playoffs three times in six seasons coaching the New Jersey Nets before his dismissal in 2009, then worked as an assistant in Boston under Doc Rivers."

A group of runners in Kalamazoo will honor victims of the Boston marathon bombing by running together tonight.

“Runners who were nowhere near Boston just feel like a piece of their heart has been ripped out,” said Tonya Durlach. She did not run the Boston marathon, but members of her E.P.I.C. running group and Kalamazoo Area Runners did.

“We’re trying to make sense of what happened but we can’t. We can’t understand why someone would do something so horrible. But the only thing we can do right now is think of them and pray for them,” Durlach said.

TimeFramePhoto.com

The two thousand runners expected to take part in this Sunday’s Lansing marathon can expect to see tight security along the 26-mile course.

The added security is in response to Monday’s deadly bombing at the finish of the Boston Marathon.

Lansing Police Chief Teresa Szymanski says people attending the Lansing marathon will be protected.

“We’ll certainly have additional patrols….we’ll have extra officers working the event. We’ll take precautionary measures…such as bomb sweeps and those types of things we do for these events,” says Szymanski.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Michigan Wolverines are losing a key player on their men’s basketball team.

Sophomore guard Trey Burke led the team to the NCAA championship this month.   Along the way, Burke picked up multiple awards, including the Associated Press college player of the year.    So it’s not really a surprise that he will forego his final years of college eligibility to possibly a big pay day in the NBA. 

Burke considered going pro a year ago, but decided to come back for his sophomore season. He led Michigan to the NCAA title game, where the Wolverines lost to Louisville.

NCAA

It wasn’t that long ago that Michigan’s basketball program was not merely unsuccessful, but the shame of the athletic department.

Bo Schembechler fired basketball coach Bill Frieder on the eve of the 1989 NCAA tournament, famously barking, “A Michigan Man will coach Michigan.”

Assistant Coach Steve Fisher filled in, and the team “shocked the world” by winning Michigan’s first-ever national title in basketball.

But on the eve of Fisher’s ninth season, he too was fired in disgrace, because some players had been paid by a booster.

Denise IlitchFacebook page

An impressive run through the NCAA tournament came up short for the Michigan Wolverines last night in Atlanta. 

After running up a double digit lead in the first half, the Wolverines succumbed to Louisville’s pressure defense.   The Cardinals kept up their hot shooting on offense and did just enough to put away Michigan down the stretch.

The final score: Louisville 82-Michigan 76. 

The Wolverines did have some standout performances.

AP player of the year Guard Trey Burke had 24 points for Michigan (31-8).  Little-used freshman Spike Albrecht added 17 points.

Michigan Basketball / Facebook

Wolverines across the country will be watching the NCAA championship game tonight, but what's happening with the team when their off-screen?

There's no doubt that this team has some extraordinary players. What are they doing that works so well?

Is it the combination of a veteran coach and a young team?

Michigan Radio's Sports Commentator John U. Bacon gave us insight into what has made this team bring the University of Michigan to the championship for the first time since 1989. 

Well, whatever it is, they've got fans buying new gear. Wolverines are sporting apparel with new slogans like, "We on," and "Rise to the occasion." 

They aren't the only ones happy about the championship. Sports apparel shops in Ann Arbor are experiencing a very healthy surge in sales. 

Todd Goetz is the manager of the Ulrich's Bookstore in Ann Arbor, which also sells Wolverine merchandise.

To listen to the audio, click the link above. 

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