Michigan's Greatest Football Coach Collapses, Dies at 77
On October 20, Bo Schembechler was doing his local TV show in Ann Arbor when he began to feel ill. Bo, tough as nails as a coach and a man, continued to do the show until it's completion. Afterward the coach was rushed to the hospital where doctors implanted a pacemaker. As recently as this week, Schembechler said the doctors were still adjusting the unit, which he said covered half his chest. As he was in October, Bo was recording his TV show this morning when he collapsed in the powder room. Efforts to revive him we unsuccessful. Bo had a tremendous impact on life in both states and his loss is being felt on both campuses.
It might seem ironic to some that on the eve of the biggest game ever played in the biggest rivalry in sports that we would lose one of the game's biggest figures. Bo Schembechler was born in Ohio, wet to Miami of Ohio where he played for Woody Hayes. Bo went to Ohio State with Hayes and coached at Ohio State before leaving in 1963 to coach at his alma-mater. In 1969 he added fuel to the Ohio State-Michigan fire by becoming becoming the head coach in Ann Arbor. It was teacher vs. pupil, and for 10 years the rivalry between coaches raged nearly as intense as the the rivalry inside the white lines. Schembechler went 4-5-1 in those 10 games, but continued on for 10 more years at UM, heading to 10 Rose Bowls, 17 Bowl games overall.
"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."
It always seems funny to me how life seems to creep up and remind us that football is just a game, not the "life and death" struggle we try to make it out to be. The game will still be played, the winner will still play for the National Championship. Though I was too young to remember it, I am sure there was a certain something missing the first time Ohio State played Michigan after the death of Woody Hayes, and there will certainly be something missing from the game tomorrow. In life, Bo Schembechler called both Ohio and Michigan home, and in death he will always be a Buckeye and Wolverine. Let's hope the game, and the fans coaches and players involved in it tomorrow remember a man that had so much to do with what the game is all about, and create something worth of his honor.
Rest in Peace, Bo Schembechler!