John U. Bacon: Michigan football kicks off a new season
College football fans in Michigan will be breaking out the barbeque and donning their favorite jerseys this weekend, as the season kicks off here in the mitten.
For more on this week’s season openers, Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon joined guest host Katheryne Friske on Morning Edition to talk about what fans can expect this season.
Michigan State University vs. Central Michigan - 7:00 p.m. Today
University of Michigan vs. East Carolina University - 12:00 p.m. Saturday
Katheryne Friske: Let's start with Michigan State. MSU is coming off a tough season. Last year, the Spartans had five wins and seven losses. They didn't make it to a bowl game. What can MSU head coach Mel Tucker do to turn things around this fall?
John U. Bacon: Well, he's got some good transfers in as always, that's his specialty. Transfers means players from other college programs who can help almost immediately. He's also got to sort out the quarterback question. Right now. It's down to two guys, Noah Kim or Katin Houser. And once that settled, I believe they'll probably win seven games this year.
KF: Well, the Spartans open their season at home against Central Michigan University tonight. The Chippewas went to a bowl game two years ago, but are also coming off a losing season. Is Central going to give the Spartans any trouble tonight?
JUB: Yeah, I bet they will for the first half or so. And keep in mind
"Central Michigan, if they beat Michigan State at Michigan State, that's how they lead their season-end banquet with that video. So they've got all the incentive in the world."
for games like this, these are trap games. Central Michigan, if they beat Michigan State at Michigan State, that's how they lead their season-end banquet with that video. So they've got all the incentive in the world. So Spartans, I'm sure, will be on full alert, but I'm confident that the Spartans will pull it out by a couple of touchdowns.
KF: Well, John, Michigan opens its season against East Carolina tomorrow at noon. Head coach Jim Harbaugh won't be there. U of M suspended him for the first three games of the season because of allegations in the NCAA investigation. And offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore is also suspended for the first game. How's this going to affect the Wolverines chances against East Carolina?
JUB: How about not at all? So I think you and I, Katheryne, could coach this game and do just fine. East Carolina is not a power and Michigan right now is ranked in the top two or three in almost every poll out there. They are loaded for bear, as they say. And I'm not denigrating Sherrone Moore or Jim Harbaugh in saying that. They've got an amazing coaching staff. They're just in very good shape. And North Carolina is not very good.
KF: [Laughs] Way to be honest.
JUB: Thank you [Laughs].
KF: Tell us what you really think, John [Laughs]. Well, Michigan is a heavy favorite. The Wolverines need to win. But in early season games, these early wins impact national polling. How much risk is there that these coaching suspensions will hurt U of M's polish and execution in this early going?
JUB: Well, I mean, I could always eat my words. I often do, Katheryne. So I'm getting used to that. But it's entirely possible that this will shake them up a little bit. Almost any change in some cases can be a positive change. In this case, playing for defensive coordinator Jesse Minter will be a plus. I think it'll wake them up.
"Almost any change in some cases can be a positive change. In this case, playing for defensive coordinator Jesse Minter will be a plus. I think it'll wake them up."
KF: Well, in a press conference on Tuesday, Jim Harbaugh came out saying he wants to see all student athletes get a share of the profits that's made off of their sport and their playing. What would it take for that to happen? This conversation has been going on for a while now. Do you see it happening?
JUB: Only a century, Katheryne. Only a century. So it takes the will of the people in charge of college football, which means, guess what? That less money goes to universities, less money goes to coaches, probably, and others involved. So Harbaugh has usually been at the forefront advocating for the players in terms of free transfer, which now is a reality. And now this. It's going to happen sooner or later. The question is when. But watch out, Katheryne, because once that does happen, guess what? Now you're a paid employee and the IRS wants their chunk. So heads up.
KF: Always the tax man.
JUB: See, George Harrison was right, wasn't he? [Laughs]
KF: [Laughs] Well, John, thanks so much.
JUB: Thank you, Katheryne. Always a pleasure.
Editor's notes: Quotes in this article have been edited for length and clarity. You can listen to the full interview near the top of this page.
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