This week brings the long anticipated publication of, Three and Out, a gut-wrenching account of the Rich Rodriguez era of Michigan football by John U. Bacon.
Bacon has drawn the ire of the athletic department as evidenced by his precarious new perch in the Michigan Stadium press box. How high? Well, let’s just say John had better duck during pre-game flyovers and probably would have a better view of the field if he used Google earth.
If this was the Superman universe he’d be in the phantom zone; the Star Wars universe, the sarlacc pit; the Matrix, he’d be unplugged.
The message is strong and clear- if you write something that the current athletic administration doesn’t like there will be ramifications. Forget that the current administration was the same one that issued the credentials for him to write the book in the first place…
Many Wolverine fans would like nothing better than to forget the RichRod era and would be all too happy to ignore Three and Out, trashing Bacon along the way.
To be sure, the book will be a bitter pill for Wolverine fans to swallow. It paints a picture of a divided athletic department, warring factions of the Wolverine football family, and an incoming coach oblivious to how deep a pool he was jumping into.
If Michigan football is to endure and mean something more than just winning football games then we need to understand what happened and work to prevent it from happening again.
At some point, we will have another coaching search and the Michigan Wolverine football community needs to do a much better job of coming together or the term Michigan Man may become an insult and not a mark of distinction.
The UM athletic department may not be happy with this book, and they shouldn’t be. It lays bare poor management and shoddy record keeping that ultimately results in NCAA violations for the Wolverine football program. Bacon didn’t create the situation, he just writes about it. Likewise while fans are brutal in their criticism of the Detroit Free Press for the igniting the firestorm, it’s the regime of former AD Bill Martin who allowed an interdepartmental squabble to fester into something that gave the appearance of a much bigger scandal than what ultimately turned out to be just a little extra time stretching.
Apparently athletic department learned little from the Chris Webber-Ed Martin scandal that devastated Wolverine hoops for over a decade. If they had then the NCAA violations under RichRod wouldn’t have been possible.
So criticize John Bacon and The Detroit Free Press if you must, in fact even Bacon takes the Free Press to task in Three and Out.
But don’t criticize the questions, hold the athletic department accountable for why the answers weren’t better.