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December 11, 1987 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-12-11

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Page 8--The Michigan Daily-Friday, December 11, 1987







Wolverines out to roll back Crimson


A Jan. 2 matchup between Alabama and
Michigan. What more could NBC-TV want?
It could want to turn the clock back a few
years so that Paul "Bear" Bryant's Crimson
Tide would meet Glenn "Bo" Schembechler's
It could want both team's losses to Notre
Dame this year to be changed to victories,
making their records 8-3 instead of 7-4.
But the network, which will televise the
Hall of Fame Bowl from Tampa at 1 p.m., is
still happy it landed the first-ever meeting
between the two big-name football schools.
Besides, it took a season of bad breaks,
mistakes, and injuries to finally bring
together this dream matchup.
Both teams have flashed brilliance and
self-destruction during the regular season.
Alabama beat Penn State, Tennessee, and
LSU but lost to Memphis State, 13-10. The
Wolverines pounded Iowa, 37-10, but
combined for 18 turnovers in their losses to
Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Ohio State.
ALABAMA'S other losses came against

Florida, Notre Dame, and Auburn, while
Michigan was also beat by Indiana.
"The two teams have a lot of similarities,"
said Michigan head coach Bo Schembechler.
"We're both sophomore-junior teams -
young teams. We have the same record, and
we've made the same mistakes."
The Michigan coach also mentioned that
Alabama, like Michigan, possesses an
offense that is anchored by a great running
back in Bobby Humphrey, a junior from
Birmingham, Ala.
"They have a good tough quarterback and,
of course, Bobby Humphrey is as good a
running back as there is in the country,"
Schembechler said. "And they have a good
offensive line."
Like Michigan's Jamie Morris, Humphrey
holds his school's all-time rushing record.
Humphrey surpassed Johnny Musso early
this season and currently has 3,228 career
THE JUNIOR finished the '87 season
with 1,255 yards on 238 carries (5.3 yards per
carry), and is a leading candidate to win next
year's Heisman Trophy.
See ALABAMA, Page 10

Dolly Photo by SCOTT LITUt
Wolverine defensive back Allen Bishop will be aiming to upend the Alabama offense in the
Hall of Fame Bowl, Jan. 2.






The Monday morning after this season's loss to Ohio
State, Bo Schembechler received a call from a popular
Detroit radio talk show host. Schembechler reclined in
his desk chair, relaxed and ready to answer any
As Michigan head football coach, Schembechler has
had to answer many questions. Questions about his
fiery temperament, his failure to win a national
championship, and his loyalty to Michigan. When
Wolverine athletic director Don Canham hired the then
relatively unknown Schembechler in 1969, the Detroit
newspapers asked, "Bo who?"
Nineteen years and 174 victories later, everyone
knows Schembechler, who got his nickname, Bo, from
his sister's inability to pronounce the word brother.
His name is synonomnous with the University of
"Michigan is Bo Schembechler," said fifth-year
senior fullback Phil Webb. "If you go here, you
become one of Bo's boys. I've always wanted to
become one of Bo's boys."
"Bo is a legend," said fifth-year senior noseguard
Billy Harris. "When you see Bo, you know he's the
man. Anytime and anywhere he is the man. That is the
way he carries him. It's impressive."
The caller on this day asked Michigan's all-time
winningest coach about a rumor from a "reliable
source." Was Schembechler the leading candidate to
replace Earle Bruce at Ohio State? A burst of
uncontrolled laughter followed.
I n past years, Schembechler would not have been
able to laugh at such nonsense. His personality made
Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight look like a
pacifist. Schembechler viewed the media in the same
light as Ohio State - an enemy.
The week before the Michigan State game in 1979,
Schembechler's self-professed worst season (Michigan
finished 8-4 that season), Daily associate sports editor
Dan Perrin questioned him about the Wolverine
kicking game after the coaches Monday press
conference. Michigan place kickers Brian Virgil and Ali
Haji-Sheikh missed a combined five field goals in a 14-
10 win over Cal the preceding week.
"Would you emphasize kicking more when
recruiting from now on, after what has happened so far
this season," asked Perrin.
"We emphasize... you guys are way out of base
asking me that damn question, anyway," Schembechler
screamed into Perrin's tape recorder. "What the hell did
you ask me for when you know damn well it's not
true? He look..."
Schembechler threw Perrin's microphone off the
table, poked the reporter in the chest, and continued, "If
you want to make an ass out of me... (Schembechler
grabbed Perrin's throat and pushed him backwards)
don't try to make me look bad, you understand, son. Or
I'll throw you the hell out of Michigan football."
Perrin never received an apology from Schembechler
and still keeps the tape as a souvenir. And
Schembechler's behavior that day is for the most part a
souvenir as well.
Over the years, Schembechler has mellowed. Age,
success, and self-confidence all led to his present
contentment. "I think it's a natural sequence," he said.
A mellow Schembechler still scores high on the
intensity meter. Sure, the 58-yearzold Schembechler
still gets upset, but he is not as vocal all the time. His
headset does not hit the turf as often as it used to, and
he has reduced his haranguing of officials.
Schembechler, though, will never stop speaking his
mind. He knows there are limits but dislikes people
that cannot say what they feel.
"I don't hesitate to speak out even though it gets me
in hot water a lot of times," said Schembechler. "If I
feel like saying something, I say it. I really seldom
"Knight was crazy to pull his team off the court (a

19 year head coach mellows
with each passing season

became more varied. For years, fans associated the
three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust offense with Michigan.
A running strategy in the early 1970's led to much
Wolverine success. Physically superior Michigan
teams could just run over opponents.
Those were the days before the 90 scholarship limit
when big schools like Michigan could stockpile the
best talent. A reduction in football scholarships and the
emergence of the forward pass led to parity in college
football, and the need for Schembechler to retool his
"As my offense has diversified, my turnovers have
increased. Note that," said the head coach, who has
never had a losing season. "My basic strategy has not
changed although it may appear this year it has.
"I believe strongly in defense and the ability- to run
the football. But I don't think you'll have a great team
unless you can pass it."

Schembechler developed his coaching philosophy
under the tutelage of three of the games legends -
Ohio State's Woody Hayes, Ara Parseghian of
Northwestern and Notre Dame, and Bowling Green's
Doyt Perry. "All three were quality guys, and there was
no bending of the rules," said Schembechler. "They
were straight-laced guys, and I came by those lessons.
None of them were looking to get some edge that
wasn't legal."
Schembechler apprenticed as an assistant coach at
Ohio State, Northwestern, and Bowling Green before
becoming the head coach at his alma mater, Miami of
Ohio. In his six years at Miami, he built a reputation
as a tough disciplinarian. That reputation preceded him
to Michigan as he tried to quiet his critics in the
Detroit media and establish himself. Even though he is
more relaxed today, his players still know whose the

"When I came up for my recruiting visit, I went
into his office," said Harris. "The first question Bo
asked was, 'Could you tackle Vaughn Brodnax?'
Vaughn went to my high school. I said, 'Yeah, I can
tackle him.' Bo then asked, 'How tough are you?' I
said, 'I'm tough.'
"Bo replied as he leaned over his desk, 'Well, I want
you to know something, son. No matter how tough
you are I can whip any one of my players. And you
want to know why? Because none of them swing
Despite his reputation for toughness, Schembechler
views himself as the same as most other coaches -
competitive. In order to be a successful coach, the self-
described outgoing person feels he must reflect his
"It's difficult being a football coach dealing with a
lot of men in a competitive situation without being
outgoing," he said. "I don't know how else you do it.
"I think a football coach, in order to be successful,
has to coach the way his personality is. He has no
choice. If he tries to emulate somebody else or program
himself, I think he'll make a lot of mistakes."
W hile Schembechler's teams have made few mistakes
over the years, the Wolverines have .never won a
national championship. Critics of Schembechler are
quick to point out this fact. He feels the goal is not
practical because of the extensive Big Ten conference
schedule. A team like Alabama, Michigan's opponent
in the Hall of Fame Bowl on Jan. 2, plays six league
games in the Southeastern Conference cdmpared to the
eight conference games Big Ten teams play.
"For SEC teams, the most important thing is
playing in a Bowl game," said Schembechler. "That to
me detracts from the conference championship. To me
the most important thing is to win the conference.
Winning the Big Ten is it, and then you go to the
Rose Bowl."
Schembechler frequently has met his goal. In his 19
seasons at Michigan, the Wolverines have won or tied
for the Big Ten championship 11 times. Schembechler
and his mentor Hayes are tied at eight with the most
Rose Bowl appearances as a Big Ten coach.
Michigan had chances in the early 1970's to win a
national title. In 1971, the 11-0 Wolverines traveled to
the.Rose Bowl and lost,13-12. Even if they had beaten
Stanford that day, there were four or five other teams in
front of the Wolverines in the polls.
Recognition as a national or Big Ten champion is
not necessary for Schembechler to get satisfaction from
coaching. Winning is still the primary goal, but it is
no longer the only goal. "Every team is different.
Every personality is different. The thrill of coaching is
to see what you can do with what you have available,"
he said. "I don't need people to tell me when we've
done a good job or when we haven't.
"The fun of football is the preparation, the
anticipation, the putting together of a game plan,
seeing it work, and watching players develop."
The only question left unanswered by Schembechler
is whether he will follow Canham as athletic director.
He proved his loyalty to Michigan in 1981 when he
turned down a multi-million dollar offer from Texas
A&M to become football coach and athletic director.
It was the first and only time a school had
approached Schembechler and the offer became public.
The opportunity came at a time in his career where he
had to make a judgment if he wanted to try something
"I thought about it, but then realized it would be a
decision based solely on money," said Schembechler. "I
always prided myself that I wouldn't make a decision
based on that alone."
Schembechler marvels at his longevity at Michigan.
Since the turn of the century, the Wolverines have hadd

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