Very sad news from Michigan today as the Wolverines prepare for this year’s “Game of the Millennium.” Bo Schembechler, the iconic Michigan head coach from 1969 to 1989, died last night after taping a television segment about tomorrow’s Michigan-Ohio State game.
Wow! Talk about your ultimate motivation tactics.
Seriously, by all accounts Schembechler was not only a legendary coach in the Midwest, but a good man. We’ll let the coming deluge of traditional media coverage provide the details. But as a life-long USC fan and alum, there are at least two memories of Schembechler that come to mind whenever I hear his name.
The first is of Schembechler celebrating a win with his team in the locker room. He was fired up as he told his team that they fought like men. Then he led them in singing what he proudly called “the greatest fight song ever written!”
What’s striking is that he wasn’t just saying this stuff to inspire his team. It was in his blood. I wish I could find a clip of that scene online somewhere (I've seen it radomly on TV a couple times), because it really captures the passion and love Schembechler had for his players and his school.
The second thing that comes to mind is a memory from the 1990 Rose Bowl, Schembechler’s last game as head coach. As we know USC beat the Wolverines 17-10. I was at that game and remember feeling so relieved that USC finally won a Rose Bowl after losing the previous two.
Ricky Ervins’ 14-yard run was brilliant, but I think Todd Marinovich’s performance - besides a talent-laden defense that included Mark Carrier and Junior Seau - actually won the game for us. That night I could have never guessed that USC Football would suffer through 11+ years of mediocrity (save 1995 and Keyshawn Johnson), before our man Carroll resurrected the program. But I digress …
Immediately after that ‘90 Rose Bowl, one of Schembechler’s players was crying during an interview, not so much because Michigan lost the game, but because he knew he wouldn’t be coached by Schembechler again.
Even as I enjoyed our Rose Bowl victory, I felt for the player and appreciated how much love and respect Shembechler’s players had for him. That more than anything tells us how much Schembechler meant to this sport we all love and how much Michigan fans will miss him.
Note: Once again, I'm double-dipping with a "guest blogger" version of this post on Conquest Chronicles.