11.17.06 Coach Bo
Schembechler Died At The Age Of 77
Nov. 17 - Bo Schembechler,
who became one of college football's great coaches in
two decades at Michigan, died Friday after taping a TV
show on the eve of the Wolverines' No. 1 vs. No. 2
showdown with perennial rival Ohio State. He was 77.
Schembechler collapsed at the studios at WXYZ-TV in the
Detroit suburb of Southfield and was taken by ambulance
to a nearby hospital. His death at 11:42 a.m. was
confirmed by Mike Dowd, chief investigator for the
medical examiner's office in Oakland County.
Police were sent to the station around 9:25 a.m. along
with the city's fire department and escorted an
ambulance to Providence Hospital, Southfield police
spokesman John Harris said.
Schembechler had a heart attack on the eve of his first
Rose Bowl in 1970 and another one in 1987. He had two
quadruple heart-bypass operations, and doctors implanted
a pacemaker to regulate his heartbeat after he became
ill during a taping at WXYZ on Oct. 20.
During a news conference earlier this week to discuss
Saturday's big game, Schembechler said the device
covered about half his chest and that doctors still were
Schembechler said he did not plan to attend the game in
Columbus, Ohio, and that he didn't travel to road games
"This is an extraordinary loss for college football,"
Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said in a statement. "Bo
Schembechler touched the lives of many people and made
the game of football better in every way. He will always
be both a Buckeye and a Wolverine and our thoughts are
with all who grieve his loss."
The seven-time Big Ten coach of the year compiled a
194-48-5 record at Michigan from 1969-89. Schembechler's
record in 26 years of coaching was 234-65-8.
Schembechler's Wolverines were 11-9-1 against the
Buckeyes. But fans in both states generally agree that
the rivalry's prime years were 1969-78, when
Schembechler opposed his friend and coaching guru, Woody
Hayes. Ohio State prevailed in those meetings, going
"It was a very personal rivalry," Earle Bruce, who
succeeded Hayes as coach, once said. "And for the first
and only time, it was as much about the coaches as it
was about the game.
"Bo and Woody were very close because Bo played for
Woody at Miami of Ohio, then coached with him at Ohio
State. But their friendship was put on hold when Bo took
the Michigan job because it was the protege against
Thirteen of Schembechler's Michigan teams either won or
shared the Big Ten championship. Fifteen of them
finished in The Associated Press Top 10, with the 1985
team finishing No. 2.
Seventeen of Schembechler's 21 Michigan teams earned
bowl berths. Despite a .796 regular-season winning
percentage, his record in bowls was a disappointing
5-12, including 2-8 in Rose Bowls.
The mythical national championship eluded Schembechler,
but he said that never bothered him.
"If you think my career has been a failure because I
have never won a national title, you have another thing
coming," Schembechler said a few weeks before coaching
his final game. "I have never played a game for the
national title. Our goals always have been to win the
Big Ten title and the Rose Bowl. If we do that, then we
consider it a successful season."
His last game as Wolverines coach was a 17-10 loss to
Southern California in the 1990 Rose Bowl. One week
later, Schembechler -- who also had been serving as
Michigan athletic director since July 1988 -- was named
president of the Detroit Tigers.
Schembechler's signature moment as athletic director
probably came in March 1989, when basketball coach Bill
Frieder accepted a job at Arizona State on the eve of
the NCAA tournament.
An angry Schembechler declared, "A Michigan man will
coach Michigan, not an Arizona State man." He refused to
accept Frieder's 21-day notice and named assistant Steve
Fisher as interim coach.
The Wolverines went on to win the national championship
by beating Seton Hall 80-79 in overtime.
Schembechler's tenure as Tigers president was less
Schembechler fired beloved broadcaster Ernie Harwell
after the 1991 season. Harwell was brought back two
Schembechler hired extra coaches for every farm team,
upgraded all the facilities and introduced
football-style strength and conditioning programs.
But those moves bore little fruit at the big-league
level. The Tigers' last winning season was in 1993 until
they advanced to the World Series this season.
Tigers owner Tom Monaghan fired Schembechler as Tigers
president the day before he sold the team to Mike Ilitch
in August 1992 -- and 13 days before Schembechler's
wife, Millie, died at age 63 of adrenal cancer. Bo
Schembechler sued, claiming Monaghan had broken a
contract the Domino's Pizza owner had jotted down on a
napkin. They settled out of court in 1994.
Schembechler was an intense disciplinarian and his gruff
persona belied his devotion to his players, both during
and after their playing days in Ann Arbor.
"He preached the team from day one, and it's still being
taught now," offensive guard Reggie McKenzie, who played
for Schembechler from 1969-71, said when he was inducted
into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003.
McKenzie said Schembechler's iron hand almost prompted
him to quit. But, he said: "I learned to beat him by
doing it the right way every time, all the time. That's
the attitude we had at Michigan."
While Schembechler loved coaching, he was less enamored
with some other aspects of college football. In his 1989
book "Bo," co-written with Detroit Free Press sports
columnist Mitch Albom, Schembechler decried drugs,
sports agents and the pressures of recruiting.
"Recruiting is the worst part of college football," he
wrote. "I no longer look forward to it. I can't wait
until it's over. It makes me feel like a pimp."
Schembechler was born April 1, 1929 in Barberton, Ohio.
He graduated in 1951 from Miami of Ohio and earned a
master's degree in 1952 at Ohio State, where he served
until 1953 as a graduate assistant under Hayes.
After serving in the Army, Schembechler held assistant
coaching jobs at Presbyterian College in 1954 and
Bowling Green in 1955, then joined Ara Parseghian's
staff at Northwestern in 1958 before returning to Ohio
State as an assistant to Hayes.
Schembechler was named head coach at Miami in 1963,
winning two Mid-American Conference titles in six
seasons. In 1969, he took over a Michigan program that
had posted six losing seasons over the previous 11
years. He did not have a losing season at either school.
Schembechler worked as an ABC Sports football
broadcaster and analyst in 1991-92 and was a popular
motivational speaker for many years.
Schembechler was inducted into the Miami University Hall
of Fame in 1972, the State of Michigan Sports Hall of
Fame in 1989, the University of Michigan Hall of Honor
in 1992, the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1993 and the
National Football Foundation Hall of Fame in 1993.
Bo and Millie Schembechler had one son, Glenn III.
Schembechler and his second wife, Cathy, married in