I had always heard that Bo Schembechler would do anything for an edge against Ohio State, but I thought he would draw the line at death.
Understand, I am not a Big Ten guy. I am born and bred to the ACC clubhouse, and I blame Bo and Woody for that. Those two guys made the game boring, plus their hoopsters often seemed more like thugs than players. The way that Woody went out, slugging a Clemson player on the sidelines during the 1978 Gator Bowl, just made the preference more clear.
Bo Schembechler was different, and that is what makes his death yesterday at 77 different. Gruff but articulate, he never lost his temper or his cool under fire, moved to AD after 21 years as Wolverine gridiron coach, and left his mark on the University of Michigan and the state of Michigan in a way that few educators-yep, I use the word educator-have done. His graduation rate was high, and he tolerated no funny business as AD. I mourn his passing.
His death on the eve of the biggest college football game of this season surely will give an emotional lift to the wolverines. While he hated Ohio State, and always sought an edge, I thought there would be a limit to how far he would go. Maybe not…
However, I have never worn the Wolverine colors or bled for the maize and blue, so I leave the final word to a friend of mine who grew up in Ann Arbor and was a scholarship athelete at Michigan. Yesterday I emailed him my condolences over Bo’s death, and here is his reply:
“I feel a bit guilty. I was talking to my buddy Todd when Bo was in the hospital and I said, tongue-in-cheek, why can’t he hurry up and die so we can go out there and win one for Bo on Saturday.
In the words of Patton (George C. Scott) I pity those bastards…by God I do. We’re not just going to kill ’em, we’re going to murder them by the bushel. We’re going to grease the treads of our tanks with their guts. We’re going to grab the buckeye by the tail (yeah, Huns don’t have tails either) and we’re going to kick him in the ass… Bo always seemed like Patton to me, our field general.
The Washington Post even mentioned his Pattonesque dismissal of Bill Frieder, “A Michigan man will coach Michigan, not an Arizona State man.” The image of him presiding over a crowd of Michigan students from the balcony of a fraternity, the night before the Ohio State game, and of him explaining why would beat Ohio State just brings tears to my eyes, “because we’re Michigan.” I loved that son of a bitch.”
Now as I said, I am an ACC man. But just this once…
Go Michigan! Hail to the Victors!