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’

Bo Clan


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.

The Rebellion image

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.]

Corduroy Jacket w/ Patch Clan

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.

In Rod We Trusted image

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.

Lloyd Loyalists


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. 

Cotton Pickin’ Blues image

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.  

Fierce Pragmatists
image  “, hmm..”

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 book clubs support groups to work through the key scenes and heartbreaks to recall their memories and match them to Bacon’s account and behind-the-scenes new info.

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. 

The Second Estate image

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 Decatur Clan image

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]!


  1. Its actually out October 25 I believe. I wish it could be out tomorrow. I was once a huge Lloyd fan and I remember telling people that wanted him out to be careful what they wish for. My opinion on Lloyd went severely south sometime in 2009. I’m really interested in the freeps hatchet job and the insights on Carr’s embarassing behavior toward Rich Rod. Mostly, its really frustrating watching what’s gone on at Ohio State and seeing how bad the B1G is this year, if only Rich could have held on one more year. If only they could have beat Penn State…

  2. @Matt
    Thanks – and thanks for the tweak on the release date. The debate will be interesting when the book is released.

  3. I think I’m going to have an aneurism while waiting for this book to drop. I’m putting the over/under on the time it will take me to plow through it at 18 hours (total time, factoring in silly things like class, food preparation and such).

  4. What a fantastic post and an excellent primer for all to read before 3&O is in our hands. Thanks and great post…

  5. It’s interesting that Lloyd Carr is getting more love up here in East Lansing than in AA. He is getting awards, attending golf outings and speaking to local groups. He has become George Perles’ maxi home boy. Wow!

  6. @Papadools My biggest struggle with Hoke is that he’s from the Lloyd tree (not to mention Borges’ idiotic early game playcalls). The fact that Lloyd’s players who did everything they could to undermine Rich are Hoke’s biggest cheerleaders really bothers me as well. It seems to me that Lloyd expected the Bo treatment when he retired, i.e. he wanted to pick his successor and serve as the revered godfather of the program. When that didn’t happen… well, see the last three years. My expectation for this book is that it will highlight the enormous obstacles that Lloyd-alists put in Rich’s way. Rich wasn’t blameless, but his self-inflicted obstacles could have been overcome with support from Lloyd and his cronies.

  7. @Matt:

    I’ve heard these rumors, but can you cite one credible report of such things happening (other than an odd comment from a player)? From what I saw, Lloyd Carr was supportive and stayed out of the way, even when given ample opportunity to comment and an easy target.

  8. Matt, so are you going to accept this book as the gospel truth, even if it offers only Rodriguez’s side of events? There are two sides to every story, and it could be that RR misinterpreted Carr’s natural stoicness as “lack of support” and then vented to Bacon about it.

    We should also be careful about assuming that RR did all he could to reach out to Lloyd and that the problem was all on Lloyd’s end. Practice observers in 2008 hinted that the new staff was playing up the “Are you with us or with the old guys?” card early on. They seem to have wanted a clean break with the past right away.

  9. @jmblue I trust Bacon, and once it comes out, if Lloyd has any issues with it, he is free to respond. I fully believe that Bacon gave Lloyd an opportunity to give his side of the story in some cases. Bacon made it clear that he alone was the exclusive writer. It was not co-written with RR.

  10. Guys- make no mistake on a few things: 1) Bacon tried to get Lloyd to talk to him about the book, 2) this book is not just from just Rich Rod’s view of the world and Bacs clearly spoke to a lot of people 3) Rich Rod himself is not happy with portions of the book.

  11. In my opinion its better for Rich Rod’s POV that the book isn’t something that makes him completely happy. It will inevitably leand more credibility to the narrative. I’m especially interested in any insight to the pre-firing meeting.

  12. Bacon is a great sports writer with a very deep knowledge of Michigan sports history but, he was a big proponent of RR and was personally invested in him making it in Ann Arbor. If the book is slanted in any way, I know what direction it favors.

  13. @Greg – MVictors
    I understand that the book is not just from RR’s perspective, but you don’t get *anything* from Carr’s perspective, even as he’s referenced many times. I’m curious to know if Lloyd feels blindsided by this. When Bacon approached Carr, did he acknowledge that Carr would be discussed (and criticized) in the book? Would Carr have participated if he’d known what would be written about him?

  14. @Matt:

    Again, any credible reports you can cite?

  15. @guanxi Just because something wasn’t reported doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. There was enough that went on that Lloyd could have spoke up and ended any suspicion that he was complicit in spreading negativity, but he only really did that once (Morgan Trent). It seemed like you had Lloyd’s players and Jeff Defran carrying Lloyd’s torch. It’s interesting to note that Jay Feely tweeted that many of the former Lloyd players decided in May 2010 that RR had to go and that Hoke should replace him.

  16. I fully supported RR when he was here, but also completely understand the reason why he was let go: 15-22; 6-18 in Big Ten; 2-7 vs ND, OSU, MSU; and a defense that got worse each year. Don’t need a book to tell me this.

  17. @Matt: I heard you are a congenital liar who has been kicked off several bulletin boards for slandering players and coaches. As you say, “Just because something wasn’t reported doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.” (* Important: See below)

    One reason I trust Carr is that he has always conducted himself with integrity. It’s sad that other people are willing to trash another man’s reputation based on unfounded rumors and hiding behind anonymity. Would you trust someone who did that?

    (* To be absolutely clear: I’ve heard nothing of the sort about Matt; I have no idea who he is. He hasn’t been kicked off any bulletin board and isn’t a congenital liar. I was making a point about the credibility and fairness of unfounded rumors.)

  18. Lloyd Loyalist checking in! Go Blue!

  19. It’s hard to imagine that Lloyd wouldn’t have thought he’d be discussed in a book that begins immediately after his retirement from a program he lead for 12 years.

  20. guanxi – Why don’t you wait and actually READ the book before you decide that the criticism of Carr is not justified. I will withold judgement until I read it.

  21. All I really want to know is: How in God’s name did the defense get that bad — and then get worse?

    And worse yet?

  22. This book confirmed conversations, rumors and fears as a former player. Ego, Greed, Money Politics crushed a good family man, college kids and Michigan. It starts at the top, MSC hired Martin and the rest is history. Lloyd did not handle his ego well and placed himself bigger than the University of Michigan by saying NOTHING. By saying nothing he did not support the KIDS on the team or former players. Bo would have called him out and call him a coward. Is Dave Brandon the answer — Q- how did he get the AD job — A — ask MSC. DB nickname is Jerry Jones for a reason and has NO respect for former players unless they lots of NFL $$ or work for ESPN.

  23. Bacon released this book mid-season during Hoke’s first rebuilding year. He could have waited and released it the Monday following the OSU game. Still plenty of buzz but we would not have had a series of pressers where players would be asked about the book. It may distract the team during a difficult time, but hey free publicity is free. Right?

    Someone who claims to care about the program would not have timed the release of their book to maximize its initial sales at the expense of the players and coaches. Hard to place credibility in such a person.

    I’m sure my local library will get a copy at some point and then I’ll bother to read it. It’s not that I am uninterested, I just don’t reward such behavior.

  24. Just finished the book. I was able to get an i
    nside view of a football program that i truly love. I am not an alum but a loyal fan since I was a kid. I lost a lot of respect for Coach Carr. Although he has done a lot of great things for Michigan, he did some things, or lack there of, to hurt Michigan during the RR years. I am disappointed in MSC and Bill Martin as well. I think the Detroit Free Press is guilty of irresponsibe journalism and was. Clearly trying to take RR down intentionally. I will never buy one of the papers again. This book told what I have always believed in that RR is a good man and a good coach. I wish that some how he could have gotten a good defense put together. If he had he might still be coaching at Michigan. With that being said, I am not a big fan of the spread offense in the Big 10. Ii prefer to watch the pro style and am very pleased with Coach Hoke. I also understand why DB fired RR, his record just wasn’t good enough and the defense was getting worse. There were definitely some people trying to hurt RR but they ended up hurting Michigan just as bad. I am glad Michigan Football is back and I hope RR is back on top again too. The players who transferred or left early because RR was gonna be their new coach and or didn’t like the new work ethic or stayed and didn’t “buy in” really hurt their team mates. They really could have uses some of those players. This was a very good book and found it difficult to put it down at times. GO BLUE!