John U. Bacon | Michigan Radio
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John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

After weeks of waiting, University of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh and athletic director Warde Manuel finally agreed to extend Harbaugh’s contract through 2025.

There are no polls tracking fan reaction, but it’s clear Michigan fans don’t feel the same way they did six years ago, when Harbaugh surprised the sporting world by returning to coach his alma mater.

University of Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel announced this week that he and football coach Jim Harbaugh would determine Harbaugh’s future on Dec. 19. That’s the day after high school recruits commit to their future schools.

In other words, by delaying the decision, Michigan will force a couple dozen high school students to make one of the most important decisions of their lives without knowing who their head coach will be. Waiting until December 19 is an uncharacteristically short-sighted, selfish move on both sides, at the recruits’ expense.


"Michigan "Michigan State" flags waving side by side
Michigan Photography

The Michigan Wolverines and the Michigan State Spartans will meet on the football field Saturday afternoon for the 113th time. The teams will kick off at noon at a nearly empty Michigan stadium in Ann Arbor. 

Sports commentator John U. Bacon joined Michigan Radio's Doug Tribou for a preview.

football stadium signs for MSU and U of M
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

The Big Ten Conference opens its 2020 football season Friday night, but the games people care about in these parts are happening Saturday. Michigan State will host Rutgers in East Lansing in the afternoon. Michigan will visit Minnesota Saturday night.

Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon joined Morning Edition to discuss a season altered dramatically by COVID-19 before it even begins.

Pop-up tents, coolers, and cornhole sets will be sitting, unused, in sheds and garages across the state of Michigan Saturday morning.

entrance to Comerica Park
Cacophony / Wikimedia Commons

One prediction about the Tigers' 2020 season is a sure thing. It will be like no other season baseball fans have ever seen. 

Detroit will play its first game of the shortened campaign Friday night in Cincinnati against the Reds.   

In addition to a schedule cut from 162 games to 60, the Tigers will be playing under a host of new rules designed to limit the spread of COVID-19. They include limited seating in the dugouts, and a ban on spitting and high-fives.

Michigan radio sports commentator John U. Bacon says MLB is getting it right when it comes to safety.

empty baseball stadium
Simon Johnson

For a time with very few sporting events, it's been a very busy week for sports news. Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon shared his thoughts on bringing back sports during the COVID-19 crisis and the Detroit Lions' ownership change.

protesters in michiga
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, thoughts from a sociologist and a law professor about the marches in Detroit and Ann Arbor that drew attention to police officers’ use of force against African Americans. We’ll also find out how one charter school operator is preparing for the fall. 

john u. bacon running with friends
Christie Bacon

Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon had Monday April 20, circled on his calendar for a long, long time. Before COVID-19 hit, that was the date of the Boston Marathon, and John was supposed to be in it. The marathon is on hold, so John came up with an alternative: he drew up his own 26.2 mile course in Ann Arbor and invited people to cheer him on – at a distance – over the weekend.

people protesting the detainment of iraqi nationals in Detroit
Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, we talk to a leader in Michigan's Chaldean community about his meeting with Vice President Mike Pence about the future for detained and deported Iraqi Christians. Plus, a conversation about why so many mentally ill people in Michigan end up in jail, and what we can do about it. 

Mel Tucker in East Lansing
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Last week Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio announced he was retiring. The news wasn’t surprising, but the timing was.

Mark Dantonio at a podium
Cheyna Roth / MPRN

This time of year, college football fans are often buzzing about incoming recruits. But in East Lansing this week, the big news was departure. After 13 seasons, Mark Dantonio retired as Michigan State's football coach. There are questions about the timing of his announcement and the future of the program.

a glass scale with a tape measurer laying on top
Vidmir Raic / Pixabay

Last time I checked in with you, I made a few confessions:

  • I turned 55 this past summer.
  • That same day I tipped the scale at a staggering 205 pounds – a full 40 pounds over my, um, “Coaching Weight.” And I stand only 5-foot-8. According to the Body Mass Index, I was technically obese.

John U. Bacon

George Perles was born and raised in Detroit, where he starred on the Western high school baseball and football teams. After serving in the Army with 17 classmates, he returned to play for the legendary Duffy Daugherty at Michigan State.

Perles played both offensive and defensive line until he suffered a knee injury -- the kind they can fix in an afternoon these days but career-ending sixty years ago.

Jim Harbaugh, Mark Dantonio
MGoBlog / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

In the preseason college football coaches poll, Michigan started the season ranked 7th, with Michigan State ranked 20th.

Since then they’ve both gone through plenty of ups and downs, with Michigan falling to 17th, and Michigan State falling out of the rankings altogether. But there’s one final twist left: their bowl games.

A view across the devastated neighborhood of Richmond in Halifax, Nova Scotia after the Halifax Explosion in 1917. The steamship Imo, one of the ships in the collision that triggered the explosion, can be seen aground on the far side of the harbor.
Wikimedia Commons

Today on Stateside, how anemic state funding and fewer students in the classroom are posing challenges for Michigan’s public universities. Plus, why some physicians choose to practice direct primary care.

person running on concrete road
Clem Onojeghuo / Unsplash

On my 55th birthday this summer, I stepped on the scale and watched it top out at 205 pounds. Since I’m just 5'8", the Body-Mass Index scale put me in the “obese” category. Awesome.

John U. Bacon

Michigan and Michigan State both entered this season ranked in the top twenty. Both have struggled on offense, and lost some games along the way.

But by the end of October, their paths seemed to have diverged. Michigan State has lost three straight, while Michigan finally found its way with a big win over Notre Dame.

michigan vs. notre dame football players on a field
MGoBlog / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

The Michigan football team entered this season ranked 7th nationwide, and were picked to win the Big Ten title. With a lot of good players and coaches coming back from a 10-win team the year before, it made sense.

But on the season’s first play, senior quarterback Shea Patterson injured his oblique muscles, and took weeks to fully recover. The offense, and the team’s new offensive coordinator, Josh Gattis, struggled along with him.

John U. Bacon

This fall California Governor Gavin Newsome signed a law that will allow college athletes to sell their names, images, and likenesses to whoever wants to buy them.

True, it’s just California, where only four Power-Five schools play; the law won’t take effect until 2023; and the measure addresses just one aspect of the complicated relationship between athletes and their schools.

person in orange football jersey and black helmet holds a football
Riley McCullough / Unsplash

California made sports history last month when Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that would let college athletes cash in on the $14 billion college sports industry.

The landmark "Fair Pay to Play Act" opens the door for athletes to be paid for their likeness, name, image, and lets them sign endorsement deals.

A U.S. Census Bureau form sent to a Michigan address last year
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, as the UAW strike against General Motors begins its fourth week, we hear from one striker on the picket line. Plus, how Governor Whitmer’s line item vetoes will impact charter schools and autism services in Michigan. 

two staffers in Michigan football locker room
Doug Tribou / Michigan Radio

Everyone sees the football coaches and the players when they go to a game at the Big House.

What we don’t see are the 67 full-time staffers that support them, almost around the clock. These include everyone from athletic trainers to strength coaches to nutritionists, videographers, and academic advisors, just for starters.

MSU and U of M football stadiums
Flickr user Ken Lund

College football is back. With Michigan State and Michigan about to begin their seasons, Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon joined Morning Edition host Doug Tribou for a preview. 

Juwan Howard
MGoBlue

When U of M men’s basketball coach John Beilein announced he was leaving Ann Arbor for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, I was as shocked as anyone. But once the dust settled, Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel had to make the most important decision of his four-year tenure.

John Beilein at the 2018 NCAA Basketball Championship game.
MGoBlog

Usually in this business we hear rumors, feel tremors, or flat-out get tipped off that big news is about to break. Not this time.

When University of Michigan men’s basketball coach John Beilein signed a five-year deal to coach the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers Monday morning, I was as surprised as you.

Steve Yzerman
Gabe Taviano / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The Detroit Red Wings missed the playoffs again this year – the third year in a row. Not that big of a deal, except the team had just come off a 25-year streak of playoff appearances – the third longest in NHL history. During that streak they won four Stanley Cups. Nobody won more.

Baby's breath, an invasive flower affecting the Great Lakes sand dunes
Sarah Lamar / Grand Valley State University

Today on Stateside, a Wayne State University law professor remembers Judge Damon Keith, the longest-serving black judge in American history who died Sunday at age 96. Plus, why the popular flower baby’s breath poses a threat to the coastal sand dunes of the Great Lakes.

A photo of a nearly-finished cigarette on concrete.
Sudipto Sarkar / Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Today on Stateside, two members from the Michigan State Board of Education discuss the ongoing debate over social studies standards for the state's K-12 public education system. Plus, a new program offers trauma-sensitive doula and midwife services to teen mothers who are survivors of sexual abuse.

Paleontologist Nizar Ibrahim in front of a screen with spinosaurus skull
Courtesy of Nizar Ibrahim

Today on Stateside, Governor Whitmer last week ordered state agencies to stop working on a proposed tunnel intended to house replacement pipelines for Enbridge's Line 5. We hear about the legal opinion from Dana Nessel that prompted that order, and how Republican lawmakers are reacting to the news. Plus, a conversation with the paleontologist who worked to unearth Spinosaurus, the largest predatory dinosaur ever discovered. 

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