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Ex-Michigan coach Schembechler dies at 77

By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer

ANN ARBOR (AP): Bo Schembechler, who became one of college football’s great coaches in two decades at Michigan, died Friday, Nov. 17, 2006, 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.

“This is a tremendous shock and an irreplaceable loss,” University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman said at a news conference at Providence Hospital in Southfield, where the famed coach died.

Schembechler collapsed during the taping of a television show in Southfield and was taken by ambulance to an area hospital. His death at 11:42 a.m. was confirmed by Mike Dowd, chief investigator for the medical examiner's office in Oakland County, and by the university.

Bo Schembechler

1
The coaching legend fell ill at the studios at WXYZ-TV in Southfield, the station said. Schembechler also was hospitalized Oct. 20 after falling ill at the same location.

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.

“It was probably not a heart attack, it just stopped working,” Dr. Shukri David said.

Schembechler met with the media earlier to discuss “The Game.”

During the news conference, the 77-year-old discussed the device that was implanted to regulate his heartbeat after he was hospitalized last month. He said the device covered about half his chest and that doctors still were making adjustments to it.

Schembechler said he did not plan to attend the game in Columbus, Ohio, and that he didn’t attend road games anymore.

“This is an extraordinary loss for college football. Bo Schembechler touched the lives of many people and made the game of football better in every way,” Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said in a statement. “He will always be both a Buckeye and a Wolverine and our thoughts are with all who grieve his loss.”

Schembechler had a heart attack on the eve of his first Rose Bowl in 1970 and another one in 1987. He has had two quadruple heart bypass operations.

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.

“Bo was Bo,” said Don Nehlen, an assistant on Schembechler’s staff at Michigan until becoming head coach at West Virginia in 1979, after a successful stint as head coach at Bowling Green State University.

“He had such a unique ability to motivate players and motivate his coaches,” Nehlen said. “The hallmark of any great football program is complete honesty between the coaches and the players. There’s got to be a trust between the two. And Bo was always, always honest and so sincere. There was such a bond between the coaches and players at Michigan, because he was so highly respected by the players because he told it like it was. He didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear.”

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. Michigan prevailed in those meetings, going 5-4-1.

“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 protégé against mentor.”

Savoring the decade of drama in 2003, Schembechler said, “It doesn’t get any better than that, does it?”

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.

Bo’s Biography
Schembechler was born April 1, 1929 in Barberton, Ohio. He graduated in 1951 from Miami of Ohio, where he played for Hayes. He 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 State University 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 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.

Associated Press Writers Jim Irwin, Tom Krisher and Ron Vample in Detroit and AP Sports Writer John Raby in Charleston, W.Va., contributed to this report.

 

Bo Schembechler’s Coaching Record
By The Associated Press

                                    W  L  T   PCT
1963 Miami (Ohio)           5  3  2  .600
1964 Miami (Ohio)           6  3  1  .650
1965 Miami (Ohio)           7  3  0  .700
1966 Miami (Ohio)           9  1  0  .900
1967 Miami (Ohio)           6  4  0  .600
1968 Miami (Ohio)           7  3  0  .700
1969 Michigan                8  3  0  .727
1970 Michigan                9  1  0  .900
1971 Michigan               11  1  0  .917
1972 Michigan               10  1  0  .909
1973 Michigan               10  0  1  .955
1974 Michigan               10  1  0  .909
1975 Michigan                8  2  2  .750
1976 Michigan               10  2  0  .833
1977 Michigan               10  2  0  .833
1978 Michigan               10  2  0  .833
1979 Michigan                8  4  0  .667
1980 Michigan               10  2  0  .833
1981 Michigan                9  3  0  .750
1982 Michigan                8  4  0  .667
1983 Michigan                9  3  0  .750
1984 Michigan                6  6  0  .500
1985 Michigan               10  1  1  .875
1986 Michigan               11  2  0  .846
1987 Michigan                8  4  0  .667
1988 Michigan                9  2  1  .792
1989 Michigan               10  2  0  .833
Total                          234 65  8  .775

 

Bowl History [Bowl Record 5-12-0]:
1969 Rose Bowl, lost to
Southern Cal, 10-3.
1971 Rose bowl, lost to Stanford, 13-12.
1975 Orange Bowl, lost to
Oklahoma 14-6.
1976 Rose Bowl, lost
Southern Cal, 14-6.
1977 Rose Bowl, lost to
Washington,27-20.
1978 Rose Bowl, lost to
Southern Cal, 17-10.
1979 Gator Bowl, lost to North
Carolina, 17-15
1980 Rose Bowl, beat Washington, 23-6
1981 Bluebonnet Bowl, beat UCLA 33-14.
1982 Rose Bowl, lost to UCLA, 24-14.
1983 Sugar Bowl, lost to
Auburn, 9-7.
1984 Holiday Bowl, lost to BYU, 24-17.
1985 Fiesta Bowl, beat
Nebraska, 27-23.
1986 Rose Bowl, lost to Arizona State, 22-15.
1987 Hall of Fame Bowl, beat Alabama, 28-24.
1988 Rose Bowl, beat
Southern Cal, 22-14.
1989 Rose Bowl, lost to
Southern Cal, 17-10.
 

 

 

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