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college sports

John Auchter

Sports is often the last refuge for civil conversation. Politics, race AND religion are practically no-go zones these days. But even seemingly benign topics like health or the weather are pocked with landmines:

"It's a bit chilly today." "Yes, it is — so much for your dumb global warming theories!"

football
Kaveman743 / Flickr / https://bit.ly/2KKaWih

After Michigan football finished a disappointing 8-and-5 last year, most pundits figured the Wolverines wouldn’t be much better this year. Worse, they had one of the toughest schedules in the country.

Plenty of pundits have raged about the soaring salaries of college coaches, and rightly so. 

Over the past three decades, the average football coach’s salary increased tenfold to $2.5 million. That’s about 25 times more than the average college professor earns, whose salary has merely kept pace with inflation. Today the highest paid public employee in 39 states is either a basketball coach or a football coach.

Michigan v. Penn State
MGoBlog

Looking at this year’s Michigan football schedule, everyone who plays, coaches, covers, or follows the team knew it would be a tough run, maybe the toughest in the country.

Michigan’s schedule included five ranked teams almost half the schedule. Three of them sat right in a row, in the middle of the season: Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Penn State. The players called that the gauntlet, until defensive end Chase Winovich renamed it “The Revenge Tour,” because all three teams had beaten Michigan last year.

John U. Bacon

Michigan and Michigan State both faced highly ranked opponents last weekend.

The unranked Spartans suffered a couple bad losses, and entered last week’s game looking for a miracle against eighth-ranked Penn State at Penn State, no less, one of the toughest places to play. But the Spartans pulled the upset, earning them a 4-2 record and a return to the top 25.

Big Ten Preview 2018

Aug 31, 2018
John U. Bacon

I usually spend the Friday before Labor Day predicting what’s going to happen in Big Ten football. But this year, so much has already happened off the field that it threatens to eclipse whatever might happen on it.

MGoBlog / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0 (for photos on Flickr)

Ohio State University has put head football coach Urban Meyer on paid leave while the school investigates whether he protected former assistant coach Zach Smith, who was fired last week.

John Beilein at the 2018 NCAA Basketball Championship game.
MGoBlog

University of Michigan men’s basketball coach John Beilein has probably reached his greatest heights – which is saying something.

Since 2012 Beilein’s Wolverines have won four Big Ten titles and got to two NCAA finals, including one of each this spring. No Big Ten coach has done better over that stretch. What’s more impressive is how Beilein has done it: by recruiting genuine student-athletes, then coaching them up to beat teams loaded with stars. Beilein and his staff have pushed six of those underrated players to the first round of the NBA draft.

Students protesting
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

About 100 students rallied in the rain Tuesday afternoon, marched up to the second floor of Welch Hall, and confronted the president of Eastern Michigan University.

Michigan men's basketball coach John Beilein seated courtside
Flickr user Adam Glanzman / Flickr

The Michigan Wolverines are still dancing in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

In the opening round, UM beat Montana 61-47 Thursday night in Wichita, Kansas. The Wolverines are the third seed in the West region. They'll face sixth-seeded University of Houston on Saturday night.

James Coller/MGoBlog / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg


    

 

Michigan has won its second straight Big Ten title by beating Purdue 75-66. 

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.

Doug Tribou / Michigan Radio

This ​story is part of Mornings In Michigan, our new series about morning rituals from across our state.

For a lot of folks, Saturday is this week’s second major holiday. That’s when the University of Michigan and Ohio State University will meet for their 114th football game. Kickoff is at noon in Ann Arbor.

To find out what it’s like inside Michigan Stadium on the morning of a game, Morning Edition producer Lauren Talley and host Doug Tribou went behind the scenes before the Wolverines hosted Rutgers in October.

Lindsey Scullen / Michigan Radio

Monday night’s Issues & Ale event dove into the complicated world of sports – where players kneel during the national anthem, college students get payoffs, and misinformation swells around concussions and other injuries.

Courtesy of the ACLU of Michigan

She wants to wrestle with the University of Michigan-Dearborn men’s team, but the National Collegiate Wrestling Association (NCWA) says its rules are clear: “Women wrestle women, men wrestle men in practice and competition. Period.”

Now wrestler Marina Goocher has the ACLU on her side in her fight to compete against the men. That includes staff attorney Bonsitu Kitaba with the ACLU of Michigan.

 

Monday, November 20, 2017, 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM
Zingerman's Greyline 
100 N. Ashley St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104  

What happens when the controversies of politics and the realities of life intersect with the sports we love to watch? Issues like domestic violence, players kneeling for the national anthem, and payoffs to college players have all helped to move stories about our favorite players from the sports page…to the front page.

Join Michigan Radio’s Morning Edition host Doug Tribou as he talks with sports experts about some of the controversies facing the world of sports. Joining Doug will be author and Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon, former NBA player and UM 'Fab Five' member Jimmy King and sports journalist Joanne Gerstner. 

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.

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.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, arms out, protesting a call
MGoBlog / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Get out your face paint and foam fingers. It's opening weekend for college football.

Michigan State is hoping to bounce back after finishing with just three wins last year. The program has been under intense scrutiny for off-field problems, including allegations of sexual assault against some former Spartans players.

female softball player getting ready to pitch
Library of Congress / Public Domain

Softball teams from the Big Ten, including Michigan State and the University of Michigan, open their conference tournament in Ann Arbor today.

Next month, thousands of fans will attend the NCAA Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City. In 2020, softball will return to the Olympics after a 12-year-hiatus.

It’s a far cry from softball’s early days when top female and male players often had to move to find a company-sponsored team with a travel budget so they could play in a big tournament.

 Red Berenson, coaches the University of Michigan's hockey team.
MGoBlog / Flickr

Gordon “Red” Berenson"  loved the game from the start. When he was a six-year old kid in Regina, Sasketchewan, for Christmas his parent gave him new skates, gloves, and shin pads.

He was so excited, he called his best friend on the party line – at 6 a.m. When his friend’s mom answered, she said, “Do you know it’s 6 a.m.?”

Berenson replied, “Yes -- but this is important!”

He played most of his games outside, where the prairie winds make it feel like you’re skating uphill. By 18 he was so good, the Montreal Canadiens wanted him to turn pro. When he decided to go to the University of Michigan instead, the Canadiens' general manager warned him, “If you go to an American college, you’ll never become a pro.”

Berenson went anyway.

Ninety seconds into his first game at Michigan, he skated end to end and scored his first goal. He scored 78 more, including 43 his senior year, still a Michigan record. He was the best player in the country.

John U. Bacon

The Michigan men’s basketball team just finished one of the craziest seasons in program history.

After a sluggish start, the Wolverines were in danger of not only missing the NCAA tournament, but even the second-rate National Invitational Tournament.

John U Bacon
John U. Bacon

Last week, Michigan men’s basketball team traveled to take on Northwestern. For years, that trip amounted to a fun field trip for the Wolverines, a chance to pad their stats before taking on the Big Ten’s big boys.

Not this year. The Wolverines and the Wildcats both entered the game in the top half of the league, and on the verge of an invitation to the NCAA tournament.

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.

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.

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 thing that college football fans love about the sport is that you never really know what's going to happen from week to week. It's tough to predict, and there are a number of interesting stories happening across the Michigan sports landscape that very few people saw coming. 

Michigan Radio's sports commentator John U. Bacon admits that he knew Michigan would be good under Jim Harbaugh, but not this good this quickly. He knew Michigan State would have a down year (by their standards), but not bad enough to have their first five-game losing streak in 25 years. He knew Western Michigan would be good, but not good enough to be 8-0 and ranked in the Top 20 for the first time in school history.

jim harbaugh at podium
Courtesy MGoBlog / Creative Commons -- http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan has seen particularly warm weather the past few days, and one person taking notice is the University of Michigan's head football coach Jim Harbaugh. 

On his weekly radio show, Harbaugh talked about recruiting prospective candidates and why he loves living in Michigan. He also joked that global warming could help the football team's recruitment efforts, according to MLive's Nick Baumgardner:

Jim Harbaugh arrives in Ann Arbor as Michigan's new head coach in December, 2014. He first arrived in Ann Arbor as a kid in 1973.
MGoBlog / Flickr

Two years ago, the Michigan Wolverines had just lost to Rutgers to post an anemic 2-4 record. Fans were miserable, especially the students, and they showed it by staying home instead of going to the stadium.

Last week, Michigan beat Rutgers 78-0. They’re undefeated, and ranked fourth in the nation. What a difference a couple years make – or one coach, take your pick.

That coach, of course, is Jim Harbaugh, and he’s probably the hottest coach in America.

Courtesy Ed McDonald / Flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Arnold Palmer was born on the cusp of the Great Depression in Western Pennsylvania. His father, Deke, had been the greens keeper at Latrobe Country Club, advancing to club pro when Arnold was four.

A club pro has to listen to every member of the country club like they’re the most important person in the world. According to John Feinstein’s classic book, A Good Walk Spoiled, that’s a habit Arnold learned, too. Whether he was talking to a young professional, the hundredth fan that day, or, heaven forbid, a reporter, Palmer made eye contact, every time, and made the other person feel like they were a valued friend.

Steven Depolo / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

It was a full weekend of sports across the state of Michigan, headlined by the Wolverines and the Spartans hosting games in their respective home stadiums. Michigan, which remains ranked No. 4 in the nation, flexed its muscles with a 49-10 blowout of Penn State. Meanwhile, in East Lansing, it was a battle between two Big Ten teams ranked in the top ten. However, Michigan State suffered a rare one-sided loss, 30-6, to the Wisconsin Badgers.

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