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Weekday mornings on Michigan Radio, Doug Tribou hosts NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to news radio program in the country.

John U. Bacon on Red Wings' heartbreak and Michigan football's NCAA penalties

Detroit goaltender Alex Lyon (34) deflects a shot in the Red Wings' overtime victory over Montreal Monday in Detroit. The Wings and Canadiens went to overtime again Tuesday in Montreal with the Wings wining in a shootout. But Detroit still fell short of a wild-card playoff spot, missing the playoffs for the eighth straight season.
Paul Sancya
Detroit goaltender Alex Lyon (34) deflects a shot in the Red Wings' overtime victory over Montreal Monday in Detroit. The Wings and Canadiens went to overtime again Tuesday in Montreal with the Wings winning in a shootout. But Detroit still fell short of a wild-card playoff spot, missing the playoffs for the eighth straight season.

The Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens went in to overtime for the second consecutive night on Tuesday. The Red Wings won again, but the night ended in heartbreak for Detroit.

The Red Wings tied the game with 3.3 seconds left in regulation in Montreal. After a scoreless overtime, the Wings beat the Canadiens in the shootout for a 5-4 victory in their final regular season game.

But while all of that was happening, Detroit also got eliminated from the playoffs.

Michigan Public sports commentator John U. Bacon joined Morning Edition host Doug Tribou to talk about that and the NCAA’s new penalties for the University of Michigan football program.

Doug Tribou: On back-to-back nights, against the same team, the Red Wings came back to tie it up late in regulation then won in overtime and a shootout. But Tuesday night, Washington beat Philadelphia 2-1 with a late goal and clinched the wildcard playoff spot. Just a wild, wild finish to the Red Wings season...

John U. Bacon: Yeah, how about that? Two overtime wins and you still get eliminated. So they won the battle but lost the war.

They played very well — third period, especially — in both games. Showed a lot of fight. The future looks very good for this team. And I also have to underscore that Dylan Larkin is from Waterford, Michigan and went to the University of Michigan. So the state's own captain — the first time ever that happened for the Red Wings. He is a phenomenal leader. You could see it before, during, and after those games.

But they're still just razor-thin short. They tied Washington for the number of points [for the season], but Washington's got the tiebreaker, so they advance. But that's how close they are. That is progress.

DT: In other news, the NCAA announced penalties for the Michigan football program and several unnamed current and former coaches Tuesday. The agreements include a three-year probation period for the team. What else stands out to you about the announcement and how do these penalties affect the Wolverines?

The NCAA's penalties against Michigan are for violations of recruiting and coaching rules. A separate investigation into last season's sign-stealing scandal is still pending.

JUB: They affect them almost not at all. The penalties are not going to rescind scholarships. They're certainly not going to take away victories from last year's national title season for the Wolverines. But it's a PR black eye. Who wants to have probation next to their name for three years?

And you'll notice that it says one former coach did not participate. I'll take a wild guess that was Jim Harbaugh, who has been against this whole process throughout. His attorney, Tom Mars - who used to be the general counsel for Walmart and has made a side career out of embarrassing the NCAA - he felt that Michigan threw Harbaugh under the bus by not informing him, by not including his letter of objection to what is happening.

Bottom line, though, the COVID-19 violations, when they were recruiting when they shouldn't have been during COVID-19 [NCAA dead period], they're Level II violations by the NCAA's own measure, which means it's a "misdemeanor," not a "felony." So, much ado about nothing, but it allows Michigan to move on and Sherrone Moore, the new coach, to focus on his team.

DT: Jim Harbaugh served two suspensions last season, one of them related to this case. But since the end of the season Harbaugh has moved on to the NFL. He’s now the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers. The NCAA’s reach ends with college athletics. What, if any, practical implications are there for Harbaugh?

JUB: Virtually none. And he'll probably get what's called a show-cause penalty, which means anybody who hires him back to the college ranks has to show why they're doing it. They might not be able to. So that would limit his flexibility going back to Michigan, which seems very unlikely since he is the Los Angeles Chargers' coach.

The problem in his case, from a PR point of view, is that his opinions no longer matter since he's not a Michigan coach, so he has no standing, if you will, in this case.

DT: And this is not the end of the NCAA’s look into Michigan football. Tuesday’s announcement does not cover the investigation into sign-stealing and in-person scouting violations that made so much news last season. Are the stakes any higher for Michigan in that case?

JUB: Yes, I'd say so because those are undefined violations. The sign stealing and so on. They're not Level I, not Level II. They're... who knows? Because it's never been charged before. So, that is where they could have scholarships taken away or games taken away. Almost everyone seems to think that's extremely unlikely. It's also where Harbaugh had the biggest fight with the NCAA.

It's worth noting, by the way, that the NCAA just ruled recently that you are allowed to bring a cookie cake to a recruit's hotel lobby, but not to a hotel room. So that's where the NCAA is right now.

DT: Hang on, let me grab a pen. [Laughs] I'll make a note of that.

JUB: [Laughs] Exactly.

DT: John, thanks.

JUB: Doug, thank you.

Editor's note: Quotes in this article have been edited for length and clarity.

The University of Michigan holds Michigan Public's broadcast license.

Doug Tribou joined the Michigan Public staff as the host of Morning Edition in 2016. Doug first moved to Michigan in 2015 when he was awarded a Knight-Wallace journalism fellowship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
John U. Bacon has worked nearly three decades as a writer, a public speaker, and a college instructor, winning awards for all three.
Caoilinn Goss is the producer for Morning Edition. She started at Michigan Public during the summer of 2023.
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