Michigan Hockey’s Greatest Generation

Posted by on Nov 13, 2014 in Uncategorized | 11 comments

During World War II, the fortunes of a college hockey team didn’t amount to a hill of beans. The able-bodied were fighting in Europe and Asia, so Michigan’s roster shrunk. So did the schedule, from 20 games to eight. From 1940 to 1943, the Wolverines won exactly five games – total. The next year, a local newspaper warned, “Michigan May Remove Hockey From Athletic Program.” Enter Vic Heyliger, a dashing young coach from Massachusetts, and two vital players. Wally Grant grew up in northern Minnesota, on the frozen Iron Range. He...

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For Michigan Athletics, Listening Might Be the Best Place to Start

Posted by on Nov 6, 2014 in Uncategorized | 16 comments

HELLO LOYAL READERS, This week’s piece has run on Michigan Radio, as usual, but a much longer, more thorough version will appear on (part of, either this weekend or Monday.  I’ll let you know. Now, back to our commentary.   On November 17, 2006, Bo Schembechler died. He was 77. For Michigan fans, the bad news hasn’t stopped. Second-ranked Michigan lost the next day’s game to top-ranked Ohio State, missing a shot at a national title. Then the Wolverines lost the next three straight,...

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An Appreciation of Mister Hockey, Gordie Howe

Posted by on Oct 31, 2014 in Uncategorized | 15 comments

You don’t have to know much about hockey to know about Mister Hockey, Gordie Howe.  If Michigan had a Mount Rushmore of athletes, Howe would be on it.  Heck, if we had to pick only one athlete for a Lincoln Memorial, it would be Howe.  Bobby Layne and Al Kaline were great, but Gordie Howe was it.  Like Babe Ruth, many of Howe’s records have been broken, but he was his sport’s first break-out star. This week, we learned Howe suffered a serious stroke, and his family is “expecting the worst.”  With his days numbered, you’ll be...

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Michigan Will Make a Decision – Even If It Doesn’t

Posted by on Oct 24, 2014 in Uncategorized | 11 comments

Hello, Loyal Readers, Today I’m providing the short version of my commentary, which appears on Michigan Radio, and the link to the’s Postgame page, where the much longer version will appear some time Friday morning.  (Follow me on Twitter to get the exact link when it pops.) Hope you like it. See you next week! -John     Michigan’s football team travels to Michigan State this weekend to renew their century-old sibling rivalry. It’s a big game for both teams – but for very...

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Michigan Football: From sell-outs to hand outs in just four years

Posted by on Sep 25, 2014 in Uncategorized | 27 comments

Hello, Loyal Readers, Today I’m providing the link to my feature story in’s Postgame page, where many of my longer stories have appeared. This one is about Michigan athletics.  To wit: This week, the Michigan football program suffered a national embarrassment when a Michigan Daily reporter tweeted Coca-Cola’s offer of two free tickets to this weekend’s game to anyone who bought two bottles of pop. How did this once-proud program sink so low, so fast? Amazingly, almost all Michigan’s wounds have...

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The Big Ten’s Blues

Posted by on Sep 18, 2014 in Uncategorized | 29 comments

In 1895, the presidents of seven Midwestern universities met at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago to form what we now call the Big Ten. They created the world’s first school-based sports organization, predating even the NCAA. Soon the rest of the country’s colleges and high schools followed suit, forming their own leagues based on the Big Ten model. This included the Michigan High School Athletic Association, also the first of its kind, which borrowed the Big Ten’s charter as its own the next year, in 1896. The Big Ten’s creation...

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The End of a Great Rivalry

Posted by on Sep 4, 2014 in Uncategorized | 23 comments

  The rivalry between Michigan and Notre Dame goes back to 1887, when a band of brothers from Michigan took a train to South Bend and literally taught those boys how to play the game. Afterward, Notre Dame served the Wolverines a nice, hot meal.  Then the Notre Dame president, Reverend Thomas Walsh, told the Wolverines a “cordial reception would always await them at Notre Dame.” That day started the longest running rivalry among major college powers – and one of the most popular.  It inspired Notre Dame’s famous fight...

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What Michigan Really Lost Against Appalachian State – and What They Need to Reclaim

Posted by on Aug 29, 2014 in Uncategorized | 12 comments What’s all the fuss about Appalachian State? The Michigan Wolverines open their football season tomorrow the way they usually do these days, by playing a team they should easily beat. But that’s what they thought the last time they played Appalachian State. It goes back to 2007, the year the NCAA allowed schools to add a twelfth regular season game, for no reason but revenue. Yes, another shameless money grab on the backs, knees, and skulls of amateur...

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Fireworks at Michigan — on and off the field

Posted by on Jul 24, 2014 in Uncategorized | 26 comments

  To listen to the audio version, click below. The University of Michigan’s athletic director sent a proposal to the University’s Regents, requesting permission to set off fireworks during two football games this fall. At first blush, the question of post-game fireworks didn’t seem like a very big deal either way. On Michigan fan blogs, reactions were mixed. As for the University’s Regents, they have bigger things to worry about than fireworks. Even...

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Revised Coach Mac eulogy runs on Yahoo; UM Regents vote against stadium fireworks

Posted by on Jul 17, 2014 in Uncategorized | 4 comments

Hello, Loyal Readers! It’s been a busy week at Bacon Blog headquarters — which is to say, these days, usually my car, zipping from Ann Arbor to Chicago to Up North and repeat as needed. Yahoo asked me to combine my pieces on Coach Mac from last year and last week, condense and revise, and I did so to create a eulogy for him currently running in the’s page.  Here is the link. Back...

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