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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An Appreciation of Mister Hockey, Gordie Howe

Posted by on Oct 31, 2014 in Uncategorized | 15 comments

You don’t have to know much about hockey to know about Mister Hockey, Gordie Howe.  If Michigan had a Mount Rushmore of athletes, Howe would be on it.  Heck, if we had to pick only one athlete for a Lincoln Memorial, it would be Howe.  Bobby Layne and Al Kaline were great, but Gordie Howe was it.  Like Babe Ruth, many of Howe’s records have been broken, but he was his sport’s first break-out star. This week, we learned Howe suffered a serious stroke, and his family is “expecting the worst.”  With his days numbered, you’ll be...

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Michigan Will Make a Decision – Even If It Doesn’t

Posted by on Oct 24, 2014 in Uncategorized | 11 comments

Hello, Loyal Readers, Today I’m providing the short version of my commentary, which appears on Michigan Radio, and the link to the’s Postgame page, where the much longer version will appear some time Friday morning.  (Follow me on Twitter to get the exact link when it pops.) Hope you like it. See you next week! -John     Michigan’s football team travels to Michigan State this weekend to renew their century-old sibling rivalry. It’s a big game for both teams – but for very...

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Michigan Football: From sell-outs to hand outs in just four years

Posted by on Sep 25, 2014 in Uncategorized | 27 comments

Hello, Loyal Readers, Today I’m providing the link to my feature story in’s Postgame page, where many of my longer stories have appeared. This one is about Michigan athletics.  To wit: This week, the Michigan football program suffered a national embarrassment when a Michigan Daily reporter tweeted Coca-Cola’s offer of two free tickets to this weekend’s game to anyone who bought two bottles of pop. How did this once-proud program sink so low, so fast? Amazingly, almost all Michigan’s wounds have...

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