Curley Center to host 'Fourth and Long' author John Bacon

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Author John Bacon, whose recently published book “Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football” focuses on four Big Ten Conference football programs, including Penn State, will be featured in public session at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12.

“A Conversation with John Bacon,” presented by the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, will focus on the book, the time Bacon spent at Penn State for the project in 2012 and much more. The session in Carnegie Cinema (113 Carnegie Building) -- part of the Curley Center’s ongoing Conversation Series -- is free and open to the public.

John Affleck, the Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society, and director of the Curley Center, will moderate the event. In addition to his questions, there will be ample time for a question-and-answer session with those in attendance.

“Fourth and Long” was based on Bacon’s work reporting on Penn State, Ohio State, Northwestern and Michigan -- in college football’s oldest conference. His work focuses on the battle between the sport’s old ideals and what Bacon calls a flood of greed and hypocrisy that has the Big Ten and college football in general at a tipping point.

As part of his reporting, Bacon sat in as coaches dissected game film, he ate dinner at training tables and he listened in locker rooms. He talked with tailgating fans and college presidents, and he spent months in the company of the student-athletes who play the game.

According to Bacon, none of his discoveries is more poignant than this: the last, true defenders of the student-athlete ideal are the student-athletes themselves, who, even as money changes everything around them, are left to carry the future of the league, the game and more than a century of tradition on their backs every fall Saturday.

“Fourth and Long” reveals intimate scenes behind closed doors, and at Penn State the book finds what the national media missed in the aftermath of Penn State’s tragic scandal: the unheralded story of players who joined forces with their coach to save the program -- and with it, a piece of the game’s soul.

Bacon has worked for nearly two decades as a writer, a public speaker and a college instructor, winning awards for all three.

He is the author or co-author of six books on sports and business, including “Bo’s Lasting Lessons: The Legendary Coach Teaches the Timeless Fundamentals of Leadership” (2007), which became a New York Times and Wall Street Journal business best-seller, and “Three and Out: Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines in the Crucible of College Football” (2011), which debuted at No. 6 on The New York Times best-seller list.

Along with the free public session Sept. 12 in Carnegie Cinema, Bacon will be on campus Saturday, Sept. 14, for a book signing from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Penn State Bookstore at Beaver Stadium. That’s prior to Penn State’s 6 p.m. football game vs. University of Central Florida.

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Last Updated January 09, 2015