Stories indexed with the term ‘Bo Schembechler’

Column: “They Come and They Go”

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

Longtime University of Michigan equipment manager Jon Falk announced this week he will retire after the football season. Falk has held the job for 40 years. But that won’t put an end to the litany of Falk Stories – many of them revolving around his former boss, Bo Schembechler.

Falk first met football coach Bo Schembechler in 1967. Falk was a freshman working in the equipment room at Miami of Ohio, and Schembechler was the head coach. Schembechler seemed pretty gruff to Falk, so he avoided him. That was not going to work for long.

Falk graduated from Miami in 1971 and stayed on as the football team’s assistant equipment manager. He lived at home with his mother and his grandmother and took care of them. In 1974 Bo invited Falk to interview in Ann Arbor. Falk had never lived anywhere but tiny Oxford, Ohio, so he was a little apprehensive about going to such a big place.

When he returned, he told his mother and grandmother that he was going to turn down Coach Schembechler’s offer because he did not want to leave the two of them by themselves. That night, around four in the morning, Falk’s mother came into his room, crying. She said it hurt her to say it, but he must go to Michigan. “I know Coach Schembechler will take care of you.”

His mom was right. The first few weeks Falk was in town, he ate almost every dinner at the Schembechler’s home. [Full Story]

Column: Bo’s ‘Sons’ Face Off in Super Bowl

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

Even those who don’t follow sports probably know the Super Bowl is a week from Sunday.  And, for the first time ever, in any major American sport, the opposing head coaches are brothers. More important for Michiganders, they are the Harbaugh brothers, John and Jim, who went to Ann Arbor Pioneer High School. So, you’ll probably start to hear lots of stories from the folks who met them along the way.

Well, count me in.

Their dad, Jack, coached under Michigan’s Bo Schembechler in the ’70s. His oldest son John played football at Pioneer High and Miami of Ohio, then worked his way up the ladder until he became the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens in 2008. He told the Washington Post he’s based his coaching philosophy on Bo’s coaching philosophy.

John’s younger brother Jim has had a complicated relationship with Michigan, but not with Bo. Jim is my age, and when we were 12 he was Michigan’s ball boy – which made all of us envious. I played against him in baseball, and with him in hockey. That was my best sport, and I was just barely better than he was – that’s my claim, anyway – and hockey was his fourth sport, which he played on the side during basketball season. Guess which one of us became a sports writer? [Full Story]

Column: Why Bo Didn’t Go

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

Since the Michigan and Wisconsin football teams first played each other in 1892, Michigan has won a decisive 80% of those games.

The difference was one man: Bo Schembechler, who beat the Badgers 18 of 19 times. If Schembechler had coached Wisconsin, instead of Michigan, the record would be almost even.

That actually almost happened. And it all came down to a 40-minute meeting, 43 years ago.

Schembechler became the head coach of his alma mater, Miami of Ohio, in 1963, at the ripe old age of 33. After Miami won its league title in 1965 and ’66, Wisconsin came calling for the head coach. [Full Story]

Column: Take Nothing for Granted

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

On Tuesday, the University of Michigan announced that Domino’s Pizza CEO David Brandon would succeed Bill Martin as the athletic director. It marked a personal high point of a great career – one you wouldn’t have predicted when Brandon played for Michigan as a third-string defensive back.

Fourteen years ago, I wrote a big feature on Bo Schembechler for the Detroit News. Bo liked the story and, out of nowhere, gave me his papers. When I tried to interest him in writing a book, he told me to ask him later – much later, it turned out. About nine years later. So, in the summer of 2000, I started without him.

The first person I sought out was Dave Brandon, who was in his second year as the CEO of Ann Arbor-based Domino’s Pizza. He probably didn’t know me from Adam, but he gave me an hour of his time anyway. And he didn’t spend it gushing about his greatest day, either, but confessing his worst one. [Full Story]