November 17, 2006

Bo Wanted A Better Seat

Schembechler.jpg


Bo Schembechler, Dead at 77.

This is a very sad day in Ohio, Bo Schembechler's home. For Buckeye fans, losing Bo is like losing a part of Woody all over again. Bo was Woody's player, assistant, protegé and friend. Their rivalry was everything, and yet it was somehow secondary to that relationship. It is a loss felt intensely in my local area. I live and work about a ten minute drive from Bo's home town of Barberton. It has always necessarily been a love-hate relationship, with Bo being at Michigan. But at bottom, he was a local boy, made good.

To speculate on what effect Bo's sudden passing might have on the 18-22 year-olds playing a college football game tomorrow would be silly, so I'll not try. The Game fairly drips with emotion in an ordinary year. This year's game was to be extraordinary even before this sad event. So it's difficult to imagine the emotional level being ratcheted up any higher. As for me, there will be an extra large knot in my gut all day.

I did give some thought to taking down the video I posted below by the now unfortunately named group, "The Dead Schembechlers." But that was before I read this statement from the group's website:

BO SCHEMBECHLER: OSU'S MOST VALIANT FOE: The band is crushed to learn of the death of Bo Schembechler. We named this band after Coach Schembechler to honor him as the face of Wolverine football. We have never wished ill will upon him in any way and have always wished him the best. When we learned that Bo had seen our web site and was amused by it we were delighted. We were simply delighted. He said to those with him as he read it, "See, I still matter in Columbus!" That may have been the greatest understatement in football history. We believe that he took the band's name as the compliment that it was meant as and that he was flattered by it. We wish to extend our deepest and most heartfelt sympathies to his family. We are truly sorry for their loss.

My favorite remembrance of Bo was hearing him tell the story of the recruitment of Chris Ward, an All-American high school offensive tackle from New York back in the early 70's. Everybody wanted this kid, and the recruiting competition was fierce. Bo was convinced he had the edge, and was hoping to close the deal for the Wolverines by making a special holiday visit on Thanksgiving Day at the Ward home. He arrived around dinner time, as I recall the story, and as he entered the dining room, his heart sank. Damn... there was Woody, carving the turkey. It was, in a way, his lament at being forever in Woody's shadow, but he told the story in a self-deprecating way, and with a certain amount of awe and fondness for Hayes.

Chris Ward became an All-American tackle for the Buckeyes and a first round draft pick of the Jets in 1978. But in the "Ten Year War", the games from 1969-1978, when Bo and Woody faced off against each other, Bo Schembechler did not come out second best. His record in those games against his mentor was 5-4-1.

Rest in peace, Bo.

And Go, Bucks!

Posted by dan at November 17, 2006 3:04 PM