Review: Endzone: The Rise, Fall, and Return of Michigan Football

Despite the title, however, Endzone: The Rise, Fall, and Return of Michigan Football by John U. Bacon is really about the rise and fall of Dave Brandon in the context of Michigan athletics. Landing Jim Harbaugh as football coach is really the result of the University of Michigan realizing how far it has drifted and how unhappy die-hard fans and alumni had become.

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Four Books on "The Game"

Today will mark the 110th meeting of Ohio State and Michigan football teams otherwise known as “The Game.”  As a lifelong University of Michigan fan I have to admit I am not looking forward to it.  The utter collapse of the Wolverines offense has sucked all the joy out of the season. The fact that Ohio State’s new coach Urban Meyer has not lost a game and looks to notch its 24 straight win in Ann Arbor makes it all the more painful.  But in this game anything can happen and every Michigan fan in the country is hoping against hope that somehow their team pulls an upset for the ages.

As a way to mark this occasion I figured I would provide an opportunity for those of you unfamiliar with the history and tradition of this storied rivalry to read and learn about it.  Since I have reviewed a number of books on the subject here over the years, herewith a recap:

Three and Out:

Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines in the Crucible of College Football

by John Bacon

Three and Out sm

Buy It

My Review:

For most Michigan fans (myself included), that makes this book particularly painful. It is like watching a replay of your car accident in slow motion, on repeat. You know both the ultimate end result and the final score of every painful game and yet you force yourself to read the excruciating details as you relive the nightmare.

But if you are simply a fan of college football, or interested in big-time college athletics more generally, it is a fascinating read. Ohio State fans might find it entertaining and strangely cathartic.

 

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Three and Out: Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines in the Crucible of College Football by John U. Bacon

For most Michigan fans (myself included), that makes this book particularly painful. It is like watching a replay of your car accident in slow motion, on repeat. You know both the ultimate end result and the final score of every painful game and yet you force yourself to read the excruciating details as you relive the nightmare. But if you are simply a fan of college football, or interested in big-time college athletics more generally, it is a fascinating read. Ohio State fans might find it entertaining and strangely cathartic.

Continue reading

Three and Out: Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines in the Crucible of College Football by John U. Bacon

For most Michigan fans (myself included), that makes this book particularly painful. It is like watching a replay of your car accident in slow motion, on repeat. You know both the ultimate end result and the final score of every painful game and yet you force yourself to read the excruciating details as you relive the nightmare. But if you are simply a fan of college football, or interested in big-time college athletics more generally, it is a fascinating read. Ohio State fans might find it entertaining and strangely cathartic.

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Football: An Encyclopedia of Popular Culture

If you had to pick a weekend to discuss football you would be hard pressed to find better one that this one. We are coming to the end of college bowl season and tomorrow will see the last spots filled for the NFL playoffs.  This is a season of either great joy or great sorrow for most fans (a few are saddled with a lingering depression as their teams suffers in the cellar out of reach of bowl games or playoffs).

For those that love the game and not just their chose teams this is a great time of year; full of days on end of football.  But with this enjoyment comes the bittersweet recognition that the season is coming to a close – there are only so many games left and then the dreaded off-season.

If you are a football fan there is a resource that might help you get through the off-season and come out even more knowledgeable about the game you love. Football: An Encyclopedia of Popular Culture edited by Edward J. Rielly is a treasure trove of information for fans and history/culture lovers alike:

Football. Far more than a game, America’s favorite spectator sport is an intrinsic part of the nation’s popular culture—a proving ground for high school athletes, a springboard for stars, a multimillion-dollar business, and a vast entertainment enterprise. Football: An Encyclopedia of Popular Culture provides a detailed look at America’s pastime through the lens of pop culture, a fascinating A-to-Z inventory of how certain aspects of the game affect and reflect broader society.
From African Americans in football to the meaning of Zero in the sport, this volume profiles players and personalities, teams and events, games and football concepts, and sociological and technological changes in the sport. The goal is not to name every Hall of Famer or to retell the game’s entire history, but to give a clear and detailed account of where, in football history, the importance of people and events extends beyond the playing field. Its wide-ranging entries examine such names as Joe Montana and Byron “Whizzer” White and phenomena from concussions, mascots, team names, and literature to U.S. presidents and football’s presence in television commercials. The encyclopedia covers all levels of play—professional, collegiate, high school, and youth—offering a from-the-ground-up, gridiron look at the game of football within the matrix of American culture.
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Ten Questions with Michael Rosenberg

I was able to talk with Michael Rosenberg, the Detroit Free Press columnist and author of War As They Knew It, at an event here in Columbus back in September.  And after our chat Michael was gracious enough to agree to answer some questions via email.  I have finally managed to put that together.  The good thing is it is Michigan Ohio State week so the subject matches very well.  (FYI: I ask Michael ten more questions – this time more focused on football – at my personal blog.

*IE problem now fixed*

So without further ado:

1. How did you convince someone to publish yet another book on the Ohio State Michigan rivalry and/or Bo and Woody?

That was the first challenge of selling the proposal: convincing publisher’s that my book would be different. I really emphasized the social history and my reporting background, and thankfully, publishers understand that even when others have tackled a subject, it is possible to write a high-quality book with new insight and information. Laura Hillenbrand was not the first author to write a book about Seabiscuit
. There have been dozens of Muhammad Ali books, but three of the most recent – David Remnick’s “King of the World,” Mark Kram’s Ghosts of Manila and Dave Kindred’s Sound and Fury
” – were critically acclaimed. Once editors read my proposal (which ran 60 pages) I think they understood that this book was different.

2. As a columnist what did you like the most about writing a book?  What was the most difficult aspect; or the part you disliked?

I love being a columnist, but I find myself rending verdicts and offering a point of view in almost every column, and I really loved the opportunity to just tell a story. There is no judgment in this book – radicals and intense football coaches and even Richard Nixon are not judged by the author. I wanted to take readers inside their heads, to understand why they did what they did.

The most difficult part was the sheer volume of work and the discipline it required. I tend to write columns in pieces, then put them together – I almost never write top to bottom and send it in. Obviously, it’s hard to write a 300-page book that way. Yet I had to keep that approach in order to weave the story together. What happens on page 20 might foreshadow what happens on page 240.

I thought I could write a book, but it’s hard to know until you try it. There were many days when I was not sure I could pull this off.

Questions 3-10 below

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