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John U. Bacon

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.

Christmas gifts
Alan Cleaver / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Christmas is here once again, right on time.

I can’t say this is that big a deal for me. I’ve seen 53 of them – and really, at my age, if I really need it, I’ve already got it. Why I really need is less stuff, not more of it.

But my view of the holiday flips completely when I think of my son, who’s just two-and-a-quarter. He’s old enough know what gifts are, and asks for “Presents!” almost as often as “Ice cream!”

Because he’s the first grandchild on my wife’s side, and the first in a generation on my side, this kid is spoiled rotten. So, what do you get a kid who already seems to have everything?

Last Christmas we got him a mini-hockey net with mini-plastic sticks. He grabs both sticks, whacks the ball toward the net, and when it rolls wide, he yells, “Gooooooooooaaaalll!” Then he waves the sticks around, until he whacks himself in the head, and starts crying.

We’re working on the fundamentals, but I like the passion.

Keith Allison / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

To sum up the year in sports, Michigan Radio’s sports commentator John U. Bacon said this: “If you like mediocrity, I mean really like it, Motown is the place for you.”

He sat down with Stateside host Cynthia Canty to explain.

MGoBlog / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

John U. Bacon, Michigan Radio’s sports commentator, joined Stateside today for a roundup of the week’s sports news.

Mike Lantry kicks a field goal against Ohio State in 1973.
Bentley Historical Library

During every University of Michigan football game for the past few years, they’ve honored a veteran, some going back to World War II. But even by those standards, Saturday’s was special.

MGoBlog / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

John U. Bacon, Michigan Radio’s sports commentator, joined Stateside today for a roundup of the week’s sports news.

User Xanteen / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Americans have become obsessed with concussions, and with good reason. But for medical professionals, it’s a double-edged sword: people are interested, but they also have more misinformation.

For example, concussions last only a week or two, while smaller, more frequent hits can result in chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE – but the two are often lumped together.

Cleavers / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

John U. Bacon, Michigan Radio sports commentator, joined Stateside today for a sports roundup. 

Keith Allison / FLICKR - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

He was one of the most beloved of Detroit's pro athletes before he left.

Now, Justin Verlander is going to be sporting a World Series ring thanks to that trade a couple months ago that sent him to the Houston Astros. The team beat LA in game seven last night to win the series.

Jim Harbaugh during last week's Penn State game.
MGoBlog / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

After the Michigan Wolverines lost to Michigan State, they beat Indiana and then traveled to Happy Valley to take on Penn State, looking for a little more redemption.

What a difference a year makes.

Justin Verlander winds up in his Tigers jersey
Keith Allison / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It's time to talk some sports.

The Lions had a bye week. That means we'll dive straight into college football, and the fact that Michigan State has moved up two places, to Number 16, in the AP Poll, while Michigan dropped out of the AP rankings for the first time since 2015.

Since 1986, college football fans looked forward to hearing the beautiful baritone of John Saunders on ESPN and ABC – but not this year.

I met him two decades ago during a charity hockey game at Joe Louis Arena. We dressed next to each other, started talking, and kept it up for a couple decades.

Ten years ago, John told me he wanted to write books. We started exploring a couple ideas, until September 10, 2011, when John stood up too fast on the set, blacked out, and fell backward on the tile floor, right on the back of his head.

Michigan vs. Notre Dame. The two teams play their final game in 2014.
Michigan Football / Facebook

For the first time in their 119-year football rivalry, Michigan and Michigan State football will play at night this Saturday.

The 7:30 kick-off time excites the recruits, the players, and the students. In other words, young people. The night game bothers many older fans, and worries store owners, university officials, and the police.

True, the late starts can bring a new energy to the game, which it did when Michigan hosted Notre Dame in Michigan’s first ever night game, in 2011. After the Wolverines pulled off an amazing 17-point comeback, the crowd stuck around for 30 minutes, just to cheer.

But older fans don’t like getting in their cars after midnight, especially when many have to drive several hours. Everyone else is worried about how fans will behave after a full day of tailgating. Some restaurant owners are prepared to close their doors if things get out of hand, and the police and university leaders of both schools are working to keep that from happening.  

So why risk it? That one’s easy: Money.

Football game at Michigan Stadium at night
Larry / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

At 7:30 on Saturday night, plenty of folks in the state will be fixed on the annual clash between Michigan and Michigan State during the first-ever night game between the two.

The FBI and NCAA

Sep 29, 2017

FBI undercover agents have been investigating college basketball for two years, and they found everything the NCAA has largely failed to find for decades: coaches paying top recruits through shoe companies. The investigation is ongoing, and the results are only now starting to roll out, so we still have more questions than answers. But we can already be certain of a few things.   

Assistant coaches at the University of Southern California, Arizona, Auburn, and Oklahoma State were arrested for corruption. Not questioned about potential cheating, the way the NCAA does it. Arrested.

NCAA Championship
Dayna / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The FBI calls it a "scheme involving bribery, corruption and fraud.”

That's how agents describe the alleged scheme uncovered by their investigation into NCAA men's college basketball.

FoxNFL / YouTube

Sports and politics entered a tense situation this weekend as the president denounced athletes who take a knee during the National Anthem to protest racial injustice.

At a rally in Alabama, the president said this to the crowd:

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!”

MGoBlog / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

I’ve always said the two toughest jobs in this state are not governor, mayor of Detroit, or CEO of General Motors, but goalie for the Red Wings and quarterback for the Michigan Wolverines, because you can never do enough.

MGoBlog / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

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.

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