Ed: Bumped because M Man was nice enough to review three of the most painful years of his life. Also, because this review is thorough and well-written.
Happy Tuesday and welcome, to your Eleven Warriors Skull Session – Book Review Edition.
Today marks the release of Three and Out: Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines in the Crucible of College Football, by John U. Bacon. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). It is the most interesting college football book in years, and it just might be the most important college football administration book in a generation. While loving care has gone into the telling of the Rodriguez story, this is not a fan’s ode to one team that is very much loved in Michigan and very much hated in Ohio, but rather a very clear-eyed look at the sport we share in common. In working on this book, John U. Bacon was given what no other writer has been given in recent history; complete, unrestricted access inside a major college football program. The result is remarkable.
I suspect that most of you would happily sit down with a cold glass of Schadenfreude and spend a few minutes confirming your worst suspicions that Rich Rodriguez was an incompetent buffoon, and more generally your worst preconceptions about your football rival. And I imagine it would be a relief for just about all of you to dig into a nice football story without any mention of the names Tressel, Pryor or Rife. Well, I have good news, and also better news. With one very small (and needless, in my view) exception, there is not a page of Buckeye-bashing in this book. But the better news is that for most of you, your (mis)perception of Rich Rodriguez will never be the same. And Buckeye football fans, as good as there are in all of sports, will be the better for it.
Basically, this is a book that every Buckeye who is deeply interested in The Rivalry should read. And it is a book that every Buckeye who might be involved in a future coaching search should be required to read.
John U. Bacon is known to many of you through his semi-regular appearances on the Big Ten Network’s feature presentations. (You've seen them; "Leaders and Legends of the B1G"; "B1G Legends and Leaders"; "Leaders and Legends and What Have You") Bacon is technically a Ph.D. candidate in American Culture in Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts. He is also a non-tenured Instructor in the school, and the small series of courses he teaches (History of Sports writing, etc.) feature the longest waiting list of any class in the college. He’s a past Golden Apple Award winner as the best teacher in the University, and he’s been blowing away audiences in speeches since the publication of his last book, Bo’s Lasting Lessons. He’s now doing some teaching at Northwestern’s Medill School, in addition to a weekly Ann Arbor radio program gig.
All that of course is some great Michigan-Man-crap, but we come back to the question of why should any self-respecting-Buckeye-bother? The answer is, because you’ll be better, smarter supporters of your own program when you understand what has been going on at That School Up North. Nobody, but nobody, has ever had press access like this to Michigan’s football program. I dare say nobody’s ever had access to your program like this. Well, maybe Bobby DiGeronimo… I kid. M Man is such a kidder.