Endzone: The Rise, Fall, and Return of Michigan Football 

St. Martin’s Press, September 1, 2015

Endzone tells the story of how college football’s most successful, richest and respected program almost lost all three in less than a decade – and entirely of its own doing. It is a story of hubris, greed, and betrayal – a tale more suited to Wall Street than the world’s top public university.

Endzone takes you inside the offices, the board rooms and the locker rooms to see what happened, and why – with countless eye-opening, head-shaking scenes of conflict and conquest.

But Endzone is also an inspiring story of redemption and revival. When those who loved Michigan football the most recognized it was being attacked from within, they rallied to reclaim the values that made it great for over a century — values that went deeper than dollars. The list of heroes includes players, students, lettermen, fans and faculty – and the leaders who had the courage to listen to them.

Their unprecedented uprising produced a new athletic director, and a new coach – the hottest in the land – who vindicated the fans’ faith when he turned down more money and fame to return to the place he loved most: Michigan.

If you love a good story, you’ll want to dive into Endzone: The Rise, Fall and Return of Michigan Football.


Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football

Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc., 2013

For the millions of fans who celebrate the game-day heroics of the student athletes that give college football its heart and soul, bestselling author John U. Bacon’s Fourth and Long, a warts-and-all look at the present and future of the game, gives them reason to still believe.

“John U. Bacon went deep inside the world of college football, penetrating the locker room doors to meet some players you won’t forget and, most amazingly, learn the secrets coaches protect more fiercely than the CIA. By getting so close to the heart of the sport, Bacon reminds us what we love about our greatest game.”
–John Saunders, Emmy-nominated studio host of ESPN and ABC College Football

“No one knows the Big Ten better than John U. Bacon, so it’s no surprise he picked the perfect football season to chronicle in his groundbreaking book, Fourth and Long. Bacon has written a riveting portrait of a watershed season in the most venerable college conference in the nation. The Big Ten is at the vortex of so many issues in college sports, and Bacon expertly covers them all.”
–Christine Brennan, USA Today national sports columnist and bestselling author of Best Seat in the House

“In Fourth and Long, Bacon, author of a superb account of a coach and football program over three turbulent seasons at the University of Michigan in Three and Out… If you’re looking for feel-good stories about college football, look elsewhere. Bacon is a journalist who loves his conference and his sport and is angry at the abuses committed in their names… And yet, Fourth and Long is not depressing. By showing us how deep corruption runs in college football, the author is also showing us why we care so much, and all there is that deserves to be saved.”
–Allen Barra, author, The Last Coach: A Life of Paul "Bear" Bryant, from his review in The Chicago Tribune


Michigan’s Red Berenson Leaves Long Legacy

This week, Michigan hockey coach Gordon “Red” Berenson announced he was retiring after 33 years behind the bench. He leaves…

Three and Out: Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines in the Crucible of College Football

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2011

Three and Out tells the story of how college football’s most influential coach took over the nation’s most successful program, only to produce three of the worst seasons in the histories of both Rich Rodriguez and the University of Michigan.

“John U. Bacon’s report from the front lines of the weird world of college football is eye-opening, and occasionally jaw-dropping.”
–George F. Will


Bo’s Lasting Lessons: The Legendary Coach Teaches the Timeless Fundamentals of Leadership

Hachette, 2007

Written with the University of Michigan’s Hall of Fame coach Bo Schembechler, who passed away in November, 2006, Bo’s last book spells out in colorful detail exactly what every leader must know from the beginning of his career to the end.
A New York Times and Wall Street Journal’s Business Best Seller lists, and received strong reviews from Newsweek, The Washington Post, business best seller Tom Peters, and Warren Buffett, who described it as, “A great book about a great man.”

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Cirque du Soleil, The Spark: Igniting the Creative Fire that Lives Within Us All

Doubleday, 2006

Spark explores how Cirque du Soleil manages creativity in the workplace, generating eye-popping innovations without losing the discipline every organization needs to be successful.  Coauthored with Cirque du Soleil president Lyn Heward, Bacon was granted unprecedented access to Cirque’s creators, performers and employees, and was even thrust into trying everything from the trapeze at 50-feet to the German Wheel to, yes, make up, all to gain a deeper understanding of how Cirque works.  Bacon frequently gives speeches on his experience with Cirque du Soleil, and the lessons learned.

An inspiring tale about the power of creativity and the imagination, from Cirque du Soleil, the amazing troupe of performers that “makes nearly every other form of entertainment seem timid, sullen, earthbound.”


America’s Corner Store: Walgreen’s Prescription for Success

John Wiley & Sons, 2004

Wiley 2004 Since Charles Walgreen, the son of Swedish immigrants, opened his first store in 1901 on Chicago’s South Side, the pharmacy that still bears his name has grown to more than 4,000 outlets in 44 states, employing 150,000…it’s still and growing. A truly family endeavor, Walgreen’s pursued success with an “almost religious devotion to substance over style.” In an era rife with corporate scandal and mismanagement, the company continues to please its investors and employees alike, and reportedly raked in $33 billion in 2002.

“Who would have thought the story of a drugstore chain could encompass so much vital and fascinating American history? With superb storytelling skills, John Bacon gives us a vivid and insightful chronicle of matters both large and small, from the birth of the milkshake to the rise of America’s consumer culture. America’s Corner Store is a genuine treat.”
–James Tobin, the National Book Critics’ Circle–Award winner, and author of To Conquer the Air: The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight

“Run the business with your head. Lead the family with your heart. Walgreens’ history is filled with good values, strong principles, and immense courage. A family business classic.”
–Howard “Howdy” S. Holmes, President and CEO, “Jiffy” Mixes


Blue Ice: The Story of Michigan Hockey

University of Michigan Press, 2001

Blue Ice tells the story of the unlikely success and longevity of the University of Michigan’s hockey program – from its fight to become a varsity sport in the 1920s right up to its 1996 and 1998 NCAA national championships. The book focuses more on the remarkable characters who developed the program than the games they played. The book became a Michigan Public Television documentary by the same name, and won two Emmy Awards.

“Bacon has captured the essence of University of Michigan hockey.  You can even smell Yost Ice Arena on some of the pages.  This great, big barn of a book certainly lights the lamp.” 
–Rich Eisen

“This is more than a history of Michigan hockey. It’s a history of college hockey, and really of hockey itself.  I learned a lot about how the game developed – and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Any hockey fan will too.”
–Ted Lindsay, NHL Hall of Famer


A Legacy of Champions: The Story of the Men Who Built University of Michigan Football

Coauthored with his former colleagues at The Detroit News, Bacon researched and wrote the first third of the book on legendary coach and athletic director Fielding Yost’s contributions on and off the field.  This section, excerpted in the Detroit News, provided the inspiration for Michigan Television’s award-winning documentary, Michigan Football Memories, available on DVD.



Bacon delivers speeches to corporations, universities and other groups drawing on the themes and stories from his books. Interested in having him speak at your event?

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