The Wolverine

November 2011

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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������ inside michigan athletics ������ Sitting Down With ���Three And Out��� Author John Bacon Plenty of buzz surrounded Michigan football and a new regime led by Brady Hoke this fall. Echoes of the recent past continue to reverberate, laid out in detail by John U. Bacon, the Michigan-based writer, speaker, TV and radio commentator, and college instructor. The author of Bo���s Lasting Lessons: The Legendary Coach Teaches The Timeless Fundamentals Of Leadership found himself embedded with Michigan football the past three seasons. He saw what was originally intended to be a magazine article turn into a three-year book project. Bacon���s new book is getting talked about in venues across the country, and the author shared his thoughts about the project. The Wolverine: What was it like being embedded in Michigan football for three years, especially the last three years? Bacon: ���Fascinating. It was a lot of things I did not expect. It was also exhausting. Just watching these coaches and players will tire you out. It really was an incredible opportunity that no reporter has had before, and probably won���t get again for a while. ���We see these coaches on Saturday. We see them at the press conferences. It all seems pretty calm at the press conference, and almost fun on Saturday ��� a game of Stratego, basically. ���You see the endless hours that go into it, and it���s not that glamorous. You also see, too, that not much happens by accident on the field. You see how much preparation goes into the play, how carefully wrought each play is, what they���re trying to accomplish.��� The Wolverine: What do you say to the people who ask, ���Why now? Why this book now? Why not just look forward?��� Bacon: ���A few things. The simple answer is, I���ve got a book contract. If I don���t finish a book, I���m done as a writer. That���s my deal. ���For Michigan, the better answer is very simple. If they don���t learn the lessons from these three years, and Rich Rodriguez too, both would be making big mistakes in the future. It���s already obvious Michigan has learned a lot from the Rodriguez era. I���m sure we���ll find, in Rodriguez���s next job, that he���s learned a lot as well. ���This is a case study in how not to handle a transfer. Sooner or later, keep in mind, Michigan is going to have to go out- side of its family again someday. When it does, you can do it the Bump Elliott-Bo Schembechler way, or you can do it the Lloyd Carr-Rich Rodriguez way. The first way is better, and this book shows it.��� The Wolverine: A number of people did not speak to you regarding this project. In your mind, does that pose a problem with the story���s balance? Bacon: ���Yes and no. The obvious answer is that if Coach [Lloyd] Carr, if President [Mary Sue] Coleman, if Scott Draper do not want to talk to me, then those sides of the story don���t get out. I was very eager to speak to Coach Carr. I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt about not talking to the press, the transfer meeting, etc. ���But you can only speak for a man so much who is not going to speak. It would have been very helpful to get his side of the story in.��� The Wolverine: How different was doing this project than Bo���s Lasting Lessons? Bacon: ���Completely. The Bo book was a labor or love. This book was labor. You get 300 or 400 hours in Bo���s office, talking to this guy. That���s just fun. Bo was retired, he was relaxed, and he was in a good position to look back on a great life and a great career. ���This was in the middle of the whole thing ��� controversy, tension, mid-career, midlife. It was also strict reporting. This was not ghostwriting. It was basically filming what I saw. ���No one had much fun in the last three years, on any side of the equation. There wasn���t much fun, but there were a lot of lessons. You only get those lessons by recording what happened. I do think, in some ways, this will prove a valuable asset to the Michigan program. But the first lessons were a lot more fun to write down.��� The Wolverine: What has been the response to the project? Bacon: ���The overwhelming sense from most people that I���m getting is, people want to know the truth. While it���s not always fun, this is where you have to give the Michigan alums and Michigan fan base a lot of credit. I don���t think this book, at another school, would have been well received. ���They don���t want to know the truth. They want to get scandals behind them, and never consider how it happened, and be in denial. Michigan fans are not like that.��� November 2011��� ������ the wolverine��� 17

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