UMAAers Can't Leave Well Enough Alone

UMAAers Can't Leave Well Enough Alone

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UMAAers Can't Leave Well Enough Alone

There was only one question Jim Harbaugh was asked at Big Ten Media Days that mattered – and the UMAAers are still complaining about it.  

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We have great respect for John U. Bacon.

Since I’m a glutton for American history (particularly when it’s presented by smart people), I’ll be one of the first people to buy his upcoming book “The Great Halifax Explosion: A World War I Story of Treachery, Tragedy, and Extraordinary Heroism.”

I’ve written zero books – and none of them have had an incredible editorial endorsement provided by George F. Will.

John U. Bacon’s work has always impressed us, he’s as earnest as Jim Brandstatter, and his hair is always combed perfectly and parted with precision.

While he’s a New York Times bestseller and is well known inside of Washtenaw County and other parts of the country, there are still several people out there that don’t know what the U. stands for.

In addition to his book we’re excited to get our hands on about World War I that will be coming out in November, John U. Bacon has written books that celebrate the greatness of Bo Schembechler, the wisdom of Don Canham, the trials and tribulations of the RichRod Era, and the good, old days of UMAA football.

But when it comes to John U. Bacon’s “coverage” of UMAA, he can’t pretend that he’s an Edward R. Murrow acolyte.

The books are great and the pontifications about Don Canham’s brilliance come with expertise and a perspective that is valuable – but you’re in bed with UMAA.

Which is fine.

As long as you get down off of that horse and acknowledge that.

And there’s the rub.

When it comes to matters not related to World War I, John U. Bacon is a classic UMAAer.

What brings on this soapbox rant of mine?

Just another example John U. Bacon provides that illustrates UMAAers having cornered the market on arrogant sanctimony.

Several weeks after Big Ten Media Days, UMAAers are still finding ways to whine about the way Jim Harbaugh was asked about the only thing that matters when it comes to Harbaugh right now – the fact that after three seasons, he has a 3rd place finish, a 3rd place finish, and a 4th place finish in the Big Ten East and a 1-5 record against UMAA’s two rivals, Ohio State and Michigan State.

No matter what any UMAAer wants to try to convince him/herself of, this is all that matters when it comes to Jim Harbaugh right now.

Someone this week was trying to remind me that Harbaugh won the NFC Championship as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

I reminded that person that I think that’s a great achievement.

But, I also reminded that person that the achievement matters for UMAA right now in the way my “Employee of the Month, October 1994 for Bertucci, Ward, & Co” on the trading floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange matters for my current efforts to save the world from fraudulence.

Everything else is all UMAA blabber.

John U. Bacon finds a way to integrate his own brand of passive aggressive whining within a story about the Urban Meyer controversy that he offered yesterday.

Here’s the exact quote from John U. Bacon’s piece (you can see John U. Bacon’s entire piece below) –

“About the only news that seemed to come out of those two days of interviews was Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh’s short, simple answers to exceedingly silly or annoying questions.”

Okay.

Let’s take a quick look at this.

Is John U. Bacon referring to the question from……..Maize N Brew…….that was about……..Harbaugh’s thoughts on the possibility of a World Cup soccer game being played at Michigan Stadium, a question to which Harbaugh gave a rambling, five minute answer filled with irrelevant babble?

Maybe that’s what John U. Bacon is alluding to.

With respect to John U. Bacon’s reference to Harbaugh’s “short, simple answers,” we’ll take one of those answers to a randomly-selected question from the press conference and see if John U. Bacon’s description of Harbaugh’s answer seems reasonable.

Here’s a question that someone asked the UMAA head coach:

“Coach, you came to Ann Arbor with, perhaps, more hype than any coach in the history of the Big Ten, maybe all of college football.  After three years, you have a 3rd place, a 3rd place, and a 4th place finish and you’re 1-5 against Michigan State and Ohio State. What do you have to do this season to demonstrate to the Michigan community that you are on the path to achieving what you were hired to achieve?”

Harbaugh’s exact, and in-full, answer was this:

“Improvement will lead to success will lead to championships.”

Before we address John U. Bacon’s use of the words “excessively silly and annoying questions” that may or may not have alluded to this question, let’s address John U. Bacon’s defense of Jim Harbaugh’s “short, simple answers.”

Harbaugh’s answer here could be described as “short and simple.”

Of course, it could also be described as “inarticulate, silly, meaningless, kind of embarrassing for UMAAers, and, again, silly.”

If John U. Bacon was an Edward R. Murrow type of guy, he’d face the reality of Jim Harbaugh’s answer and not cozy up to him by pulling the covers over Harbaugh’s face, turning off the alarm clock, sheltering Harbaugh from the light coming in from the window next to the bed, and saying, “It’s okay, Jimmy – you can just stay in bed – you don’t have to go to school today – I’ll help you with the homework you didn’t do over the weekend after you’ve gotten three more hours of sleep…”

If John U. Bacon wants to describe Harbaugh’s answer here as “short and simple,” he should just be comfortable in knowing that he demonstrates that he’s a cheerleader for Harbaugh.

Again – that’s fine – as along as John U. Bacon acknowledges this and doesn’t sit up on a resplendent horse, dressed in honorable battle garb that implies he’s a warrior in search of truth, justice, and the integrity of the American way.

As for John U. Bacon’s reference to the “exceedingly silly and annoying questions” –

I once knew a guy who drank too much.

When I say that this guy drank too much, I mean to say that, over an average week, he probably drank more than John U. Bacon drinks in a full calendar year.

That guy’s wife used to say to the guy, “Umm…..do you think you might consider not drinking as much liquor as you do?  For one thing, the money that’s spent on the liquor could be allocated towards George Clooney’s efforts to saving Darfur.  Also, it might be good to have more room in our house for our things rather than all of these gigantic bottles of every kind of booze that exists. There might be other benefits to you not drinking as much as you do that I’m not thinking of…..”

That guy told me just a week or so ago that those questions that he was asked by his wife on a fairly regular basis were annoying.

But he also said there wasn’t anything silly about them.

For UMAAers, of course the above-referenced question that Harbaugh was asked at Big Ten Media Days was and is annoying.

It’s annoying because it dares to address the possibility that UMAA’s emperor has no clothes and that dares to address that if this UMAA emperor has no clothes, it’s possible that the wistful memories of Bo Schembechler’s snarl will continue to gather more and more cobwebs and demonstrate to the UMAAers that 1973 isn’t ever coming back.

John U. Bacon and UMAAers:

Stop the whining – straight forward whining and passive-aggressive whining.

We’ve all been told by you folks forever that you’re above that.

Acknowledge that the question was the only legitimate question that was asked of Harbaugh at Big Ten Media Days.

And just consider the possibility that Harbaugh might not be the Second Coming of Bo Schembechler.

Yes – the question annoys you.

That’s because it touches a third rail for UMAA right now.

And this next part is also important –

If UMAA defeats Michigan State this coming season, guess who will be the first person to give Jim Harbaugh and UMAA the credit that he and the team will deserve?

The person who asked the question.

And if UMAA defeats Ohio State, guess who will be the first person to give Jim Harbaugh the credit he and the team will deserve?

The person who asked the question.

And – in John U. Bacon’s breakdown of the Urban Meyer situation, John U. Bacon says Don Canham told him this 20 years ago: “Never turn a one-day story into a two-day story.”

I have no doubt that Canham said that to John U. Bacon.

But, I believe that quote has been attributed to Socrates, Plato, Harry S Truman, Richard Nixon, Biggie Munn, and Casey Stengel.

(I thought that George Perles might have also been someone to whom that quote had been attributed but then I remembered that I was getting that confused with this other quote that Perles deservedly gets credit for: “A bowl game is like a ham – there isn’t any such thing as a bad one.”)

It’s entirely possible that when Don Canham bestowed that wisdom on John U. Bacon twenty years ago it was the first time anyone passed along that advice.

John U. Bacon wraps up his piece on the Urban Meyer controversy this way:

“In hindsight, Harbaugh’s short answers might not have been the biggest story of Big Ten Media Days.”

That may be true.

But the annoying part for John U. Bacon and UMAA is that Harbaugh’s short, simple answers were and remain the pile of stuff that the dog left in the corner of the living room that UMAAers want to pretend isn’t there and they just keep stepping over it as they walk over to the 1973-esque living room bar to fill up their tumblers.

And anyone that dares to refer to the dog’s contribution to UMAA’s living room is Public Enemy #1 for pointing out what is in plain sight for anyone who looks.

BACON: Urban Meyer will be back in time to coach games

  15 HOURS AGO

A couple weeks ago, I reported on the Big Ten Media Days, the annual event when every coach tells you what a great off-season his team had – in the weight room, the classroom, and yes, the community.

About the only news that seemed to come out of those two days of interviews was Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh’s short, simple answers to exceedingly silly or annoying questions.

But we didn’t realize the big story had just been planted under our noses. The first night of the conference, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer fired one of his assistants, Zach Smith.

Five years earlier I saw Meyer handle another crisis that broke right before the Media Days with great aplomb. Four players were facing separate legal issues, and he simply released them from the team. Meyer took the podium, explained what happened and what they were doing about it, and answered a few questions. And just like that, it was over.

He followed the advice Michigan athletic director Don Canham told me 20 years ago: “Never turn a one-day story into a two-day story.”

Not so last month. When a reporter asked Meyer about Zach Smith, the receiver coach he had just fired, and if Meyer knew about Smith’s 2015 domestic violence incident, Meyer forgot Canham’s advice. Instead of simply saying, those are private legal issues we’re sorting through, Meyer said he was never told about anything about it, never had a conversation about it, and the people in his office knew nothing. No how, and no way.

But it quickly came to light that what Meyer said simply wasn’t true. He was also challenging the credibility of the story’s author, Brett McMurphy – who happened to have the time, the ability, and the motivation to dig deeper. He soon got Smith’s wife on the record, contradicting many of Meyers’ claims.

Ohio State felt it had no choice but to put Meyer on paid administrative leave, while an internal committee investigated the situation. We don’t know yet what they will find or report, or what Ohio State will do about it.

But we have learned Zach Smith was such an ineffective coach that Meyer barely let him coach at all. Smith would roam the sidelines during practice singing rap songs for $340-thousand a year, while two coaches did his job.

So why keep Smith? Because he’s the grandson of former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce, who was Meyer’s lifelong mentor. Another reason could be a threat from Smith, who told his wife if he was punished, “I’ll take everyone at Ohio State down with me.”

When Meyer recognized he’d screwed up and his job was in jeopardy, he released a carefully worded statement that said, in part, “My words must be clear [and] completely accurate… Unfortunately I failed…”

That was smart. So now we’re waiting for the committee to conclude its report, but I wouldn’t hold your breath. When most pundits were predicting Meyer could never survive this, I said Ohio State will not fire Urban Meyer, because he’s simply too good a coach, with six division titles, two Big Ten titles, and three national titles at Ohio State and Florida.

Instead, they will give Meyer a formal rebuke and suspend him for a few games. But not only will Meyer be coaching in November against Michigan, I bet he’ll be coaching in September against Penn State, the second biggest game on the Buckeyes’ schedule.

Of course, the investigators could find more than we expect, or Meyer’s bosses could change their minds. But I doubt it.

In hindsight, Harbaugh’s short answers might not have been the biggest story of Big Ten Media Days.

John U. Bacon is the author of nine books. His latest is The Great Halifax Explosion: A World War I Story of Treachery, Tragedy, and Extraordinary Heroism. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management, or its license holder, the University of Michigan

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