I just finished John U. Bacon’s Three and Out and I need to talk to somebody. For a while. Same thing will happen to you.
If you landed on this page, I don’t need to suggest you buy this book—you probably already bought it or certainly plan to. You really don’t have a choice now, do you? (It drops October 25 – get it now on Amazon).
This isn’t a full review. I was lucky enough to receive a beta version of the book and its content is subject to be tweaked, added or removed. But I can offer a few thoughts. For starters, I’ll note that it’s painful enough to relive the past three seasons just from memory. Now try it in 3D and HD, complete with unreleased scenes, quotes and outtakes. And did I mention cockroaches?
I give credit to Bacon for writing this—no one held a gun to his head to do it—and he surely knew he’d be ruffling a feather or
two twenty by putting this out there. As Brian mentioned, everyone seems to be upset about the book. Most people will be talking about Lloyd Carr, who is charged with conduct unbecoming a Michigan Man yet, it is strongly noted, didn’t speak to Bacon for this book so in several cases we rely on the perspective of RichRod and/or his staff.
As you’d expect, Bacon deftly tees up the history of football at U-M, and more importantly, its place as a driving force that shaped the CFB landscape. His insights into how Rodriguez developed his offense are fascinating. I laughed out loud at some of the lighter moments and cringed as JUB described the some of the postgame speeches after yet another brutal loss. Two chest pounds from me to Moundros. I’ll get into more at a later date when the real deal arrives.
Like most matters concerning Michigan football, I’m guessing your feeling about Bacon’s book will be driven by the type of fan you are, or said another way, your clan. So I thought, why not revive The Clans and attempt to run down how each group might feel after reading 3&O? [If these groups don’t look familiar, give this post a read as a primer (includes chart!).]
Here you go:
|Clan||Who Are They?||Comment on ‘Three and Out’|
|Former Bo players and those associated or feel very closely tied (e.g, alums or “Bo signed my hat when I was 9” folks) to that era.
Defense wins championships, people.
Since Hoke Hire: Happy. They are satisfied that Hoke will uphold Bo’s legacy.
|Naturally, they are pleased that Bacon provided proper deference and respect to Bo and how his transition in ‘69 was handled. They understand, as Bacon deftly described in 3&O, how Bo’s departure from U-M (and when he died) impacted the athletic department and this program.
These guys know that this type of book never would have surfaced in Bo’s day—he would have squashed Bacon’s MacBook like a bug with one swipe of his famous ruler. But then again, none of this mess would have happened if Bo were around either. It’s Chicken and Egg (with Bacon).
Much of the tension of the past 3 seasons has been alleviated by Hoke’s arrival, his rhetoric & his actions on and off the field. While some are not happy that Carr didn’t vocally support RichRod (as discussed in 3&O), Hoke has gone a long way in a short time to heal old wounds.
|Bloggers, message-board hounds, recruitniks. Statistical analysis shows, nay, proves that an innovative offense (RR/Chip Kelly) is what is required in Ann Arbor. And you never punt, man. Carr’s tendencies became maddening in the final few years, and rumors of Carr steering recruits away from U-M make them slam down their X-box controllers in rage.
Since Hoke Hire: Mix in Greg Mattison and a top 5 recruiting class and they’ve cooled down.
|“You removed the chart Dooley, so gloves are off!”
This book is right in their wheelhouse. Bacon points out in painful detail all the obstacles that RichRod faced (and yes, a few he created) along the way. They cheered each time Bacs mentioned “The Horror” or their homebase, mgoblog. Would have liked to seen more detail on the internal politics of RR’s handling of (or lack thereof) the defensive coordinators.
This is a bit of revenge on those responsible for setting the course for the Michigan offense to head back to the Stone Ages and.. [oh, wait a second..they stopped reading this --Bri’Onte Dunn just updated his Facebook page.]
|Affiliated with the University/Ann Arbor elite who feel we devote too much money to athletics, and feel the stadium expansion is wrong on many levels. They chuckle outwardly at people who spend their Saturday afternoons sandwiched between overweight men in a football
stadium or in front of their televisions shoveling ‘Funyuns’ into their faces.
Since Hoke Hire: Less drama = less to poke fun at, but these guys don’t really care. Glad they don’t have to hear “ain’t” anymore; not crazy about Hoke’s affection for “daggone”.
|Would like to suggest to Bacon that “The Hill” [the administrators/brass at the school] is worthy of a little more respect than being portrayed as an annoying group of bureaucrats who directly or indirectly mess with athletic department business.
All that said, they’ll read this (it’s a book afterall) so they are prepared for the cocktail parties and tailgate chatter. Yes, they chuckled aloud at the stories of overweight adult autograph-hounds (“It’s for my kid. Really.”) that appear now & again in the book.
|Die-hard Rich Rod-backers with close ties to The Rebellion. RR should have been retained. Their support was hardened by the negative media coverage coupled with the idiotic ad hominem attacks by sports radio callers and national drive-by columnists/hosts. He never was given a chance.
Since Hoke Hire: Still pissed, but their numbers are diminishing.
|Know one of these guys? Expect a signed copy of 3&O for Christmas. They’ll also pick up a copies for their favorite haterz.
RichRod was never given a chance in this town and everyone will now see the truth how he was chewed up by all these distractions. You and yours should write RR and his staff an obsequious note, begging for forgiveness.
While you won’t hear them (there’s maybe a Baker’s dozen of these people remaining), they will sprinkle Boos on Carr when he’s honored before the Nebraska game this season.
|Former Carr players and those (alums) who feel deep ties to that era. Feel Carr’s Legacy is unfairly represented by many, including the Rebellion and In Rod Clans.
Since Hoke Hire: They won, Hoke is excelling and they’ll remind you that one of Carr’s assistants should have been hired the first go round.
|There are no mixed feelings here. This book is unfair and one-sided. John U. Bacon is clearly suffering from a form of Stockholm syndrome from being embedded with Rodriguez and his staff for the past three years.
They feel Carr did the right thing by not talking to Bacon about this book, because, as happened to RichRod again and again, his words would surely backfire and/or be misconstrued. Besides, Carr’s record with his players and with U-M stand on their own. And what would he possibly have to gain from engaging in he-said, she-said at this point?
They will be quick to point out a story or two in the book where they feel Carr was misrepresented & will use that to fuel a Clintonesque attack to discredit how Carr was represented in the entire tome.
|The vast majority of "regular" M fans. Beyond sanctions and horrible & embarrassing results, they bleed Maize ‘n Blue. But the OSU, MSU and bowl poundings put them over the edge with ol’ Rich Rod.
Since Hoke Hire: Thrilled with Hoke. Most of these fans will have selective memory about their support for RichRod. (“I knew that guy was wrong for this job..I knew it!”) No they didn’t.
|Disappointed in so many Michigan people involved in the book and really hate seeing the dirty laundry out there.
But they are fully behind Hoke now and RichRod is now just a character in a few of their knee-slapping jokes at tailgates.
|Group that was good with Rodriguez & think he deserved one more year. That said, they understand that DB had to fire Rodriguez as much for the "sense" of Rodriguez in the media and among the alumni and fans, as for the 15-22 record. The man had become a toxic asset.
Since Hoke Hire: Real happy with Hoke’s success, cautiously optimistic about the future.
|Oh man. First off, a stiff Bourbon. Second off, they eat up this kind of thing.
As deep thinkers, they are clamoring to form
These fierce pragmatists know there are two sides to every tale and it hurts them, almost literally, that Bacon couldn’t get Carr to offer his perspective on the past three years.
|Much like the Second Estate of Pre-Revolutionary France, they make up a tiny portion of Michigan fans, but they control a disproportionate amount of influence. They are Champions Lot parkers. They’re guys that Brandon sees and immediately knows he needs to go chat up. (Note that Brandon, himself, would be of the Second Estate). DB is loyal to them, but he is also well aware that he needs them. They are Cotton Pickin’ Blues generally, they want wins the right way–no scandals, no embarrassment, no negative press.
Since Hoke Hire: Couldn’t have gone better. Got their man, didn’t have to pay a fortune, Ohio State is sinking and Hoke stays on message.
|They feel Bacon’s story is a mere interpretation of the past three years, but it is incomplete, one-sided and worst of all, detrimental to the Michigan brand. Privately, many of them will tell you they enjoyed seeing Bill Martin worked over. Also privately they will tell you that they respect Bacon’s work.
All that said, they will work with Brandon to quiet the buzz about the book. Where possible, they will refute and discredit some of the facts/stories in the book through influential back channels. Watch out.
|The fanatical faction of Michigan fandom, named for Capt. Stephen Decatur of the U.S. Navy who famously said, "Our Country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but right or wrong, our country!" Basically "I love the guy in charge, no matter who it is today. Go Blue!".
Since Hoke Hire: Go Blue!
|What book? Like some former coach used to say, “It’s in the past!”
Go Hoke, Go Blue, Beat [insert nickname of next team we’re scheduled to play]!