Jim Harbaugh is Back in Town – and so is Weapons-Grade Intensity

Posted by on Mar 12, 2015 in Uncategorized | 16 comments

[Author’s Note: This piece is the longer version of my story that ran in the Wall Street Journal, on line Thursday, and in the paper Friday.]   When Jim Harbaugh was growing up in Ann Arbor, his father Jack, coached the defensive backs for Bo Schembechler at the University of Michigan. When Jack handed his kids their lunches each morning, he’d tell them to “attack this day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind!” It’s fair to say, Jim...

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My Q&A on “ENDZONE: The Rise, Fall and Return of Michigan Football.”

Posted by on Feb 27, 2015 in Uncategorized | 11 comments

NOTE: This week, Brian Cook of MGoBlog asked me a bunch of questions about my upcoming book, “Endzone: The Rise, Fall and Return of Michigan Football,” which is due out September 1.  The publisher posted it on Amazon and B&N on Monday, and it’s been the #1 football book all week.  You can pre-order it on either of those sites, listed below, or my website.  And we’ll be setting up the book tour, to run this fall, coast to coast, very soon, and posting on my website, too. Now, all I have to do is finish...

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Beilein at his best when conditions at their worst

Posted by on Feb 19, 2015 in Uncategorized | 4 comments

Under head coach Tom Izzo, the Spartans have been to 17 straight NCAA tournaments, made it to 6 final fours and won it all in 2000 – while graduating 81 percent of his players.  Not too shabby. Thanks partly to the tough schedule Izzo puts together, his teams tend to start slowly and then build up steam as March Madness approaches.  Despite losing Gary Harris and Adreian Payne to the NBA, and Javon Bess to injury — this year’s team seems to be no exception, winning nine of its last 12 Big Ten games.   That’s coaching. But...

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Brady’s Balls, Left Sharks, and the Story We Missed

Posted by on Feb 6, 2015 in Uncategorized | 8 comments

Everyone has been calling Super Bowl Sunday a national holiday for so long, it’s almost true.  It’s great because everyone can play, no matter your religion, or even if you don’t like football. So, it’s time to break it all down, Coach Bacon style, starting with the most important element: The ads.  This year broke another record: $4.5 million for a single spot. For that kinda dough, you better not waste a second – but they wasted whole minutes. To celebrate the spirit the Super Bowl represents, the ad makers’ theme this year was...

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The Buckeyes win – and the Big Ten benefits

Posted by on Jan 15, 2015 in Uncategorized | 9 comments

The Big Ten entered the bowl season battered from a brutal decade. How bad was it? Michigan’s sworn enemies, Michigan State and Ohio State, had given up hating the Wolverines. What was the point? The Spartans and the Buckeyes could barely remember the last time the Wolverines had the upper hand. They no longer felt animosity toward Michigan, but pity – and frustration that the Wolverines weren’t keeping up their end of the deal. In the previous ten years, Big Ten teams had lost two-thirds of their bowl games. For the third time in seven...

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Lions and Browns and A Lot of Losing – Oh My!

Posted by on Jan 9, 2015 in Uncategorized | 5 comments

The Lions have lost to the Cowboys 13 times – so that’s not unusual. There are 31 other teams in the NFL, and 27 of them have winning records against the Lions. That leaves those pesky cats to feed on the likes of the Cleveland Browns, whose only fan in Michigan is our news director, Vince Duffy, from Ohio. When you root for the Lions, it’s nice to know someone out there has it worse than you. Sorry about that, Vince! But Detroit did make the playoffs, and that is unusual. During the past 57 seasons, the Lions have played exactly 12...

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Why Jim Harbaugh defied the experts, and followed his heart back home

Posted by on Jan 1, 2015 in Uncategorized | 10 comments

[This blog comes from my feature this week in The Wall Street Journal, linked here:]   The private jet cut through the clouds and eased onto the airstrip at Detroit Metro Airport, just a few miles from where Charles Lindbergh once tested World War II bombers. This plane’s mission wasn’t nearly so serious. But the joy it gave to the people below probably exceeded just about everything since VJ Day. The jet’s cargo happened to be one...

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The End of the Hoke Era – and the Start of a Crucial One

Posted by on Dec 5, 2014 in Uncategorized | 28 comments Brady Hoke grew up in Ohio, graduated from Ball State, and started his coaching career as an assistant at Yorktown High in Indiana. He is a football man, through and through. In 1995, Hoke began an eight-year stint assisting Michigan, a run that included the Wolverines’ first national title since 1948. The coaches and players loved the guy. They kept in touch, while Hoke became a head coach, turning around Ball State and San Diego State. After...

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Michigan Hockey’s Greatest Generation

Posted by on Nov 13, 2014 in Uncategorized | 11 comments

During World War II, the fortunes of a college hockey team didn’t amount to a hill of beans. The able-bodied were fighting in Europe and Asia, so Michigan’s roster shrunk. So did the schedule, from 20 games to eight. From 1940 to 1943, the Wolverines won exactly five games – total. The next year, a local newspaper warned, “Michigan May Remove Hockey From Athletic Program.” Enter Vic Heyliger, a dashing young coach from Massachusetts, and two vital players. Wally Grant grew up in northern Minnesota, on the frozen Iron Range. He...

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For Michigan Athletics, Listening Might Be the Best Place to Start

Posted by on Nov 6, 2014 in Uncategorized | 16 comments

HELLO LOYAL READERS, This week’s piece has run on Michigan Radio, as usual, but a much longer, more thorough version will appear on (part of, either this weekend or Monday.  I’ll let you know. Now, back to our commentary.   On November 17, 2006, Bo Schembechler died. He was 77. For Michigan fans, the bad news hasn’t stopped. Second-ranked Michigan lost the next day’s game to top-ranked Ohio State, missing a shot at a national title. Then the Wolverines lost the next three straight,...

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