Penn State Football: A Manning Texts Michael Mauti, John Bacon Talks Origins of Book
The idea for a book can come from anywhere. But when it comes to getting access and insight from sources, that can be a much more difficult task.
John Bacon's book "Fourth And Long" covers a number of programs, but it's Bacon's access during the tumultuous 2012 Penn State football season that's particularly interesting. Speaking to a small crowd on Penn State's campus Thursday evening, Bacon detailed how he was able to land such intimate access to the team during head coach Bill O'Brien's first year.
"The scene was Friday, April 20," Bacon said. "I was at a lunch for the ground of the new ice rink being broken. Bill was there and I let him know that I was coming. This wasn't an ambush at all. He was there and he knew I was coming.
"There was an empty seat at his table and Josh Brandwene, the current coach for Penn State women's hockey is sitting at the table. I had known Josh from over twenty years ago when we were both coaching at a Penn State hockey camp at the old rink. And he sees me and goes "Bakes!" and I think "Thank God." Before I know it I'm spending 15-20 minutes with Bill O'Brien just kind of introducing myself.
"Later on that day I walk across the street and he asks if I want to hop on the bus to take a ride to the stadium for the walk through before the night before the spring game. And I said 'Yes.' and I was there and then went to the spring game on Saturday and that's how the whole thing started. Rather informal actually."
One other advantage? O'Brien had read Bacon's book on former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler several times.
Overall the book is an interesting must-read for those looking to see the inside of the Penn State program from a unique perspective. While no bombshells lie within the pages, it paints a much more detailed picture of how O'Brien and former players like Michael Mauti, Jordan Hill, and Michael Zordich kept the program together following the first few months of the NCAA sanctions.
The book also includes interesting passages like this one about the response to Michael Mauti's injury from around the country.
"Throughout the weekend, hours after the Indiana game, Mike Mauti's phone blew up with calls and texts from teammates, former players ... and even Peyton Manning, whose father, Archie, had played with Rich Mauti (Michael's dad) in New Orleans and remains a family friend."
"After the senior Manning called Mike Mauti on Sunday, he texted him on Monday morning: 'Life is a big s*** sandwich. You either take a bite, or you starve. You've had some bad breaks, but life will be good. Keep the faith'."