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September 25, 1989 - Image 17

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-09-25

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The Michigan Daily - Sports Monday - September 18, 1989 - Page 3

&ft" : Detit free iu ess'/ itcl
Mitch
knows
Bo
While Bo knows football, Albom
spent hours compiling the coach's life

I

Richard Eisen

0

Today, debuts a new feature in
Sports Monday. Each week, in'
Q &A , a sports celebrity will be
interviewed.
Today, Daily Sports Editor
Mike Gill interviews the Detroit
Free Press' award-winning
columnist Mitch Albom. Albom
just recently finished co-authoring
Michigan football coach Bo
Schembechler's autobiography,
"Bo," available at local bookstores.
Daily: How did the idea come
about to write Bo's autobiography?
Albom: Actually, it was Warner
Books' idea. They thought a book
by Bo would be timely and well
received. They knew about me and
they thought it would be a good
idea to get the two of us together.
They came to me about doing it
with Bo and through me came to
Bo about doing it with me. We
both kind of said, "Well, I'll do it
with him if he'll do it with me. But
I don't think he'll do it with me."
We were both surprised to find out
the other one was willing to do it.
Bo said "you would do this with
me?"

was attacking Arizona State as a
big steroid school. All he said was
that he read a report in the paper,
that he had played against schools
that used steroids, and that team
was reported to be on steroids and
we played them in the Rose Bowl.
He wasn't jumping on their case or
anything. He just used it as an
example.
D: Was it tough working with
Bo trying to assimilate all these
stories?
A: Yeah, it is tough working
with Bo. But toughness is half the
fun of it. You have to go in there
ready to argue. It's not just let's sit
in a rocking chair and reminisce. He
not like that at all. He's feisty.
What I really wantedsto do,
Mike, is really capture his voice,
the way he sounds. Well, if you
really want to get Bo the way he
sounds, you've got to get him a
little agitated, because when he sits
down and just reminisces -
especially when we would talk at
night after a long day. He'd sit
down in his chair and his voice
would start to fade out. The tape
recorder could barely make it out.
He starts to mumble.
I would deliberately try to get
him a little, not mad, but provoked.
I would say things because that's
when he gets that tone in his voice
that everyone recognizes. That
"now you listen to me, we're going
to do it this way." That's what I
wanted, but he was being a little
too reflective sometimes and
grandfather-ly because it was so late
at night. I would say, "stand up,
walk around the room, get mad at
me" to try and capture that voice.
That was just one of many
things that were hard working with
him. The most was just finding the
time. He has such a busy schedule.
A lot of these books like
Bosworth and McMahon, the
writers only spent one week with
the subjects and taping them. Then
they went off and wrote it. Bo and I
spent the better parts of four
months with constant visits here
and there, at the Rose Bowl, in
New York, and Washington. That
was hard.
Then the hardest thing was that
he didn't think he was saying
anything worthwhile. All the time,
he'd tell me some great story about
Bear Bryant or some story about
Woody Hayes. As I was listening, I
said, "Oh, this is going to be great
for the book. And then he'd say,
"AAAH, these are stupid stories,
I'm not saying anything
worthwhile."

There is a line in the book that I
used in the forward. After we had
just finished talking, he stopped the
car and said, "You better be good
Albom, because nothing I'm saying
is worth a damn." And that's the
way he looked at it. It was hard to
convince him that what he was
saying was important, but now that
the book is selling, all of a sudden,
he is convinced.
D: Did you think it would sell
well nationwide?
A: No. I'm surprised. I'm really
surprised. I thought it would sell
well around here. It has a lot of
controversial stuff, but it doesn't
come out and trash someone like
Bosworth did to Barry Switzer. He
could have done that, but he said,
"This is not going to be a kiss-and-
tell book." I salute that.
I think a lot of people read it
because of the Frieder thing. Or
about the straight talk section at the
end where he says "recruiting makes
me feel like a pimp."
But I am surprised about how
well it's done. Holtz has a book
out. Paterno has a book out and it's
doing way better than them.
D: So last Saturday was a battle
of the book authors?
A : That's what the book
publishers like to think. I think if
he would have won that game, the
book would be even higher than it

is now.

An agent was working on this
in New York. The next day we had
an offer from Warner. We thought
it would take two or three months.
The next day we had an offer.
D: Did you ever expect Bo
{would want that type of publicity,
T with his own name on a book?
A: Well, only because he had
that last heart attack. I get the sense
that Bo has reached the pinnacle of
his career - the autumn or the
winter of it. Maybe he wants to get
w some of those stories about Woody
and his early years down. Maybe
now is the time. That's the only
reason I can think that he would
- want to do it.
What I wanted him to do was to
get across some of his messages on
college sports. I thought if he
retires before he does this... if he
* wrote a book when he retired, it
wouldn't be received as well as it
was if he was an active coach.
The last five chapters are a
critique of college football. They
are the thing I am proudest of in the
book. They take apart recruiting,
academics, agents, drugs and ster-
oids. He really really lays it on the
line, he really pastes some people
that deserve to be. He really tells
controversial stories that are getting
'picked up all across the country.
As far as I know, it is the only
time a coach, active or non-active
of his stature has come out and said
these things. I think it has a lot
more punch when he's still
coaching. He's telling the truth
about what's really going on and
how you can build a winning
program cleanly - it just takes
time and this is how it is done.
That's what I wanted the book to
contain.
D: On the subject, (Ohio State
coach) John Cooper was pretty
upset about the accusations Bo
made about his team (Arizona
State) using steroids. Does Bo still

D: Was it hard to put what Bo
had said into printed words?
A: The last six weeks, I never
left my computer. I took time off
from the Free Press. I just sat there
from 9 a.m. until 11 at night and
never left. I never left the house,
didn't go out to eat, didn't go out to
the movies. I would just eat at my
desk. I would just pour through
these tapes and manuscripts. I
would listen to these tapes and I
would here his voice so much so
my friends would come over and
say "you sound like Schembechler."
I was starting to go "Hey, damn
it!" and that stuff. Not when I was
trying to imitate him, but when I
was talking regularly. It got to the
point when I was in the middle of
the book that I could hear his voice
in my brain - the sound and the
intonations. That's when the
writing came the fastest. I was
thinking like me but I was
sounding like him. These were
basically his words anyhow. I edited
them and I put them together; I
chopped them up and moved them
around. Everything that is in there

he essentially said in some shape or
form.
D: You gathered anecdotes from
Bo's friends and then asked Bo to
elaborate on them?
A: That was one of the great
problems of the book. Bo's
memory after a hard day at the
office is about as useless as a used
coffee filter. He's got a great
memory for facts, a great memory
for stats, but to remember stories-
sometimes it's impossible. And so
usually when you do one of these
books you just kind of sit with the
guy himself. You talk with him,
maybe you talk with his wife -
that's it.
We ended up talking to almost
100 different people from his whole
life - back from when he was a
kid, his mother, his sister, his best
friend, guys he went to college
with, guys he coached with, former
players. This is the only way I
could think to jog his memory
banks, to call these people and ask
them to tell us their favorite Bo
stories.
Each person who has come into
contact with him in their life
remembers one or two stories that
they never forget. But collectively,
Bo could never remember all of
them because he's got 600 some-
odd guys who have played for him;
everyone has two or three stories.
That's 1,800 great stories.
D: As far as the future, what do
you see for Bo? When is the end
going to come?
A: To be honest with you, if he
had beat Notre Dame and had gone
on to win the national
championship - which still isn't
out of the ques-tion... I wouldn't
have been sur-prised if he had gone
out on a high note.
But short of that, a few more
years and then I don't really know if
he has the patience to be the
athletic director. He doesn't like
being couped up in an office. He
may be a guy that when he gives
up the whistle and the football,
he'll just give up the whole
caboodle. He might surprise
everyone with what he does out of
sports.
D: Being a journalist, does the
fact that you got so close to Bo and
wrote his autobiography, how does
that affect your objectivity?
A: That's a good question. My
feeling is this: as a columnist, I am
paid to express my opinions. The
more I know about the people I am
writing about, the more likely my
opinion is going to be valid. It's
very easy for someone to have an
opinion of someone they don't
know. That doesn't make it correc.
Of all the people in this market,
he's the one I know the best.
People automatically seem to think
that that means won't write
anything negative about him. If
you know me and Bo - just ask
his secretaries - they'd put us in
his office and then hear all this
screaming - they'd say you're as
bad as one of his coaches. I won't
take any gruff from him, and he
won't take any from me. I think
that is one of the reasons he
consented to do the book with me.
But we've had some doozies of
some arguments. Some good old

yelling matches.
I'm not afraid to criticize him at
all. What I do know now, is that if
I had to write something critical of
him, at least I would what I was
talking about. I told him he got no
special treatment from me and he
said the same.
D: How do you have all the
time to do what you do, being on
TV, radio, and the newspaper?
A: I usually sleep about three or
four hours a night. If I keep this

Of donuts, traffic and
Disneyland in L.A.
LOS ANGELES - Everything in Los Angeles is at least 40
minutes away from wherever you want to be. Freeways and mountains
stretch as far as the eye can see. Or at least until the smog obstructs your
view.
Los Angeles is not like any other place. Never seen anything like
it-never will either. The people there are not like any other people:
they're laid back, carefree, and a little apathetic. Especially the sports
fans.
Get this. Michigan and UCLA take the field, ready to start one of the
premier college football match-ups in the nation. Last Saturday, it
seemed as if Bruins fans needed a promotional event to drag them into
the stadium for game time.
And the place never did fill up. Only 71,797 die-hard fans watched the
ball game and dutifully cheered for their team-but onlywhen the
cheerleaders told them to.
Much like a teacher who keeps scolding his or her children to color in
between the lines, the cheerleaders cued the fans to cheer nearly every
other minute via a loudspeaker. Yes, a loudspeaker. Cheerleaders had
microphones hooked up to various speakers around the stadium.
In other words, these high pitch-voiced pom pon wielders screeched
out whatever they felt whenever they felt like it. And everyone was held
captive to their gibberish.
On fourth and one late in the third quarter, UCLA quarterback Bret
Johnson went under center. But instead of hearing loud cheers from the
crowd all you heard was some shrill voice drowning the fans out:
"Everybody, on three, say 'first down. 1-2-3!"'
AND THE BRUIN FANS dutifully and faithfully responded.
Wonder if they needed to ask the cheerleaders for a bathroom pass, too.
At one point, a cheerleader held up a sign that plainly read: "Noise."
A guttural, anal retentive sound emanated from the crowd.
Not your everyday fans. But then again, this is not your everyday
town. Nor are these your everyday people.
For example, upon checking into our motel at two in the morning (5
p.m. E.S.T.-talk about your jet lag), a man practically jumped from
the bushes, scaring the daylights out of everyone in the Daily crew.
"The best part about this motel," the strange man said from the cloak
of darkness, "are the doughnuts in the morning. They're really good."
Now, after a long flight, in which there was no in-flight movie and
too many complimentary peanuts, the last thing you need at literally
five in the morning is some crazed individual jumping at you from a
bush wielding a Dunkin Donuts inventory list.
"Really?" I said, not believing what was going on.
"Yes. They're very good.
"Are there Boston Creme donuts," I asked. "I really like Boston
Creme donuts."
"Oh, then you've come to the right place," he said, disappearing
moments later.
MUCH TO MY CHAGRIN, there weren't any donuts in the
morning, but only stale, ancient oatmeal cookies that tasted like airplane
upholstery.
Even more insane, however, was Rodeo Drive where the hip pocket
feels a little lighter just by looking at the ritzy stores.
Walking into the two-story Ralph Lauren Polo Store, you're hit with
the notion that this really isn't your ordinary department store.
Once inside, a man welcomes you to the store and offers you a glass
of champagne. Like that happens in Briarwood every night, right? Oh,
honey! Let's grab some Zinfandel before hitting the 'M' Den. So, in one
hand you're holding champagne while in the other, there's the most
expensive merchandise of all time.
I lumbered to the second floor, champagne in hand, trying to look
important, checking the merchandise with a keen eye. Ah! A special
Only $3,500 for an oriental rug. Too bad, because I was looking to snag
an oriental rug whilst on the coast, but it was a bit too pricey.
Looking out the window, seeing Tiffany's, Cartier and Gucci up the
street, I wondered how many Guaranteed Student Loans it would take to
cover a shopping spree.
JUST AS EXPENSIVE, is Disneyland, the trap of all tourist traps.
Upon forking over $23.50, you receive your one day "Passport to Fun"
along with a booklet describing all of Disneyland's attractions.
Rifling through the booklet offers a glimpse at some of the Magic
Kingdom's best rides: Space Mountain, It's a Small World, the People
Mover...
What?
Deep inside Tomorrow land, lies Disneyland's People Mover. No
kidding. Imagine the description: Battle crack heads and knife-wielding
dope fiends in Disneyland's taste of Detroit. Fun for the whole family!
Actually, the People Mover happens to be a pleasant, family type
ride through the "Happiest Place on Earth." But don't these people know
what they're doing? Nobody does, probably. Not much to worry about in
the City of Angels. Except traffic. And maybe traffic snipers.
In L.A. wherever there's a paved road, there's traffic. And this is what
causes L.A. fans to leave sporting events early, despite the close score.
According to UCLA Bruin Daily Sports Editor David Gibson, UCLA
fans aren't an exception.

"The crowd here is pretty docile," he said dejectedly. "They fire up for
big games but basically the Western mentality is different from the
Midwest mentality. Out there, everyone lives for Michigan or Michigan
State football.
"But here, everyone's at the game for social reasons."
AND THE FANS not only hurt themselves, but they hurt the
Bruins, too.
"The team gets down about it," said Gibson, who covers football for
his newspaper. "The crowd out here for Tennessee a few weeks ago (a
game the Bruins lost, 28-6) was pretty weak."
Just before departing for good old blustery, slightly more down to
earth Ann Arbor, I was deep in search for a microcosm of Los Angeles-
something or someone to sum it all up. And I don't mean the donut
guy.
And I found it in UCLA redshirt frosh quarterback Bret Johnson.
Johnson, a Mission Viejo, Calif., native who looks like he just stepped
off the set of "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," offered his assessment of
why Michigan played so flat in the first quarter of Saturday's game.
"In the first half, weather was a factor, it seemed," the
quarterback/meteorologist said about the contest played in 75-degree
weather. "(Michigan) came out tired. It was very smoggy out there and
them being from where they're from, it looked like it got to them.
"By the end of the second half it was a nice evening and they looked a
lot better," Johnson said in his best Jeff Spiccoli-type manner.
Johnson neglected to mention that the Wolverines had the smog at
their backs in the second half.
Ah, Los Angeles.

'Bo'

nears top-10

in national rankings

by Mike Gill
Daily Sports Editor

if

Bo Schembechler's autobiographical book "Bo," which he collaborated
on with Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom is experiencing wide-
spread popularity across the country, as well as on Bo's home turf.
"Bo" has moved into the 11th spot on The New York Times Bestseller
List while experiencing brisk sales in Ann Arbor.
"It's doing real well," said Tom Dobberstein, co-owner of Logos Book-
store on South University. "We've had it since August 25 and we've sold
well over a third of our order. This far outsells any other book we have."
The manager at the South University Community Newscenter, who
asked not to be identified by name, also confirmed the strong sales. "It is
selling. It is really going great. The thing about the book is its
consistency. When it first came out, we didn't get a rush. What happens is
we sell a few each day, up to ten on weekends.
"It's a really good read. It is written in a story-like fashion, it's pretty
easy to go through. It's a pleasure to read."
The book retails for $17.95.
Despite it's unqualified success, no one really expected the type of sales
the book has received. Dobberstein explained that The New York Times
Bestseller list is powered by east coast sales. Random House, which
distributes the book for Warner, marketed the book strongly throughout the
Big Ten states. Yet, the book has done well on the coast.
A.1__ .. 1- r . 6 ......, .. . . .-- . T .t_--,t

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