On November 7, 2019, the University of Michigan Alumni Club of Greater Washington, DC hosted author John U. Bacon for a discussion and signing of his new book entitled, Overtime: Jim Harbaugh and The Michigan Wolverines – At The Crossroads of College Football. The event took place at the Baker-Hostetler Law Firm in Northwest Washington, DC. It started with a registration, followed by an initial book signing. Mr. Bacon then gave a detailed discussion of the genesis of his latest book, followed by an overview of its story.
Overtime looks inside the Michigan Football Program under the leadership of Head Coach, Jim Harbaugh, who took over its reins in 2015. As with many of Mr. Bacon’s books, it discusses the nuances and challenges in competing in big-time college football for the coaching staffs, the players and the institutions themselves. Overtime specifically chronicles the Wolverines’ 2018 season starting with their opener at Notre Dame and then through to their crushing 2018 loss to Ohio State; and then finally their season ending loss to Florida in the 2019 Peach Bowl.
In Overtime Mr. Bacon discusses the challenges of Jim Harbaugh’s tenure in which he has yet to beat Ohio State, win the Big Ten Conference and qualify for the College Football Playoff. He gives a look into Jim Harbaugh’s life and upbringing and the many events that made him who he is today. The book further tells the stories of players within the program including: Rashan Gary, Devin Bush, Karan Higdon, Noah Furbush and Shea Patterson.
I arrived at the signing after Mr. Bacon started his discussion. I walked in as he was discussing former offensive tackle, Grant Newsome, whose parents, Leon and Kim, were in attendance. Newsome was one of Jim Harbaugh’s most promising prospects, a ‘game changer’ whose mere presence on the field would’ve likely changed the fortunes of his teammates and the coaching staff were it not for a career-ending leg injury early in the 2016 season. I won’t give the entire story away, but I will share that Coach Harbaugh honored Newsome’s scholarship who continues to be involved with the football program, highlighting two of the greatest pillars of the program which are its integrity and loyalty to its student athletes.
I received Overtime as a birthday present from my mother (pictured below) and it’s been a joy to read. At the end of his talk, Mr. Bacon acknowledged his audience for supporting his work over the years. When he took questions, I asked him how likely Athletic Director, Warde Manuel, was to fire Coach Harbaugh to placate half of our rabid fanbase. Mr. Bacon responded that the it was unlikely as the program itself is healthier than it’s ever been (see Endzone: The Rise, Fall, and Return of Michigan Football).
“Harvard doesn’t care if their team wins! Alabama doesn’t care how their team wins!” Mr. Bacon uttered the same words he used when he released Endzone three years earlier regarding how the football program is run and the ‘Michigan way’. What I gathered from Mr. Bacon at the end of the night was that despite the angst surrounding the football program on the field, the best thing would be for the Michigan fans to sit tight and let things play out. In doing so, we will likely ultimately get what we want, and it will come without scandals or violations of any kind, keeping with the values of the program and the school.
“I’m hoping this will be my last book on Michigan Football,” Mr. Bacon said afterwards while signing my copy.
“Well John, you must have at least one more left as the story isn’t over yet,” I said to him.
“You know what? You’re right,” he replied, laughing.
I first heard about John U. Bacon as a graduate student at the University of Michigan from 1999 to 2005. There I regularly listened to the “Ticket 1050 AM-WTKA” where I heard all the latest news and commentaries on Michigan sports while working in my graduate research lab. It was lots of fun listening to it all, especially during football season. The knowledge of the on-air personalities and the passion of the callers, many of whom called daily was unlike anything I’d heard before.
I later found that John was a fixture at the University. In addition to his coverage of Michigan Football as a member of the media, he also served as a faculty member, sometimes teaching some of the student-athletes in his classes. As an Ann Arbor native, he had a deep knowledge of the history of the University of Michigan’s athletics – particularly its storied football program.
John U. Bacon has become the official historian of Michigan football. He has authored numerous books, many capturing the history of the University of Michigan’s storied football program, and the current state of college football including:
• Endzone: The Rise, Fall, and Return of Michigan Football;
• Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football;
• Three and Out: Rich Rodriguez and the Wolverines in the Crucible of College Football and;
• Bo’s Lasting Lessons: The Legendary Coach Teaches the Timeless Fundamentals of Leadership.
Mr. Bacon’s previous two books are: Playing Hurt, which was co-written with ESPN’s John Saunders; and The Great Halifax Explosion in which the story’s main hero is the University of Michigan’s first hockey coach. To learn more about John U. Bacon, his books, and speaking engagements, go to: www.johnubacon.com.
A special thank you is extended to the University of Michigan Alumni Club of Greater Washington, DC for allowing me to cover John U. Bacon’s 2019 visit. Thank you also to John U. Bacon for chronicling the vast and notable history of Michigan’s Football Program.
The University of Michigan Alumni Club of Greater Washington, DC hosts many events throughout the year for its alumni, in addition to its sports game watches, for which the University and its alumni are well known. If you are a University of Michigan alumnus in the Washington, DC metro area and would like to keep up with the club’s events, please go to www.umdc.org. GO BLUE!!!!
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