The Michgan Daily - SPORTSMonday - Monday, October 4,1993- 3
The former football coach discusses
Michigan, college athletics
Former Michigan football coach
Bo Schembechler defines the phrase
"Living Legend. "His 194-48-5record
as Wolverine coach toppedtheMichi-
gan record books. He won orsharedin
13 Big Ten championships and went to
17 bowl games in his 21 years at the
helm, including his last 15 seasons.
But beyond the victories, and be-
yond the statistics, there was - and
still is -something more to Bo. His
footballphilosophy of "The Team, The
Team, The Team, "still echoes at Sta-
dium and Main. And beyond the grid-
iron, Bo had unforgettable character.
While he retired from coaching in
1990, Bo remains inAnnArbortoday.
After a short stint as President of the
Detroit Tigers, Bo returned to Michi-
gan as Co-Chair for the $1 Billion
w Campaign-for-Michigan, andhe leads
the fund-raising effort for the Millie
SchembechlerAdrenal Cancer Center
at University Hospital, in memory of
his wife who passed away in the sum-
mer of 1992.
Daily Sports Editor Adam Miller
caught upwithBo athisSchembechler
Hall office the week before the Hous-
ton football game. In Part One of the
interview, Bo discusses his role with
Michigan, NCAA athletics, and his
years with the Tigers.
Daily: You don't seem to have a
problem filling your day. What hap-
pened to the idea ofrelaxing in retire-
Bo: Relax? I never intended tore-
lax. But there isn't any question that I
don't have as much pressure on what
I'm doing as I did when I was coach of
the Michigan team. Even though I'm
busy, andI'mdoing a lotofthings that
I enjoy doing, it's not like the constant
pressure of winning asacoach. So that
partof it, when you say relaxing, that's
D: Tell me a little bit specifically
about whatyou're doing for the Cam-
paign for Michigan. You're listed as
tiveI've beenonthatatall. Mostofmy
workon thathas been done, you know,
if they goaskmetospeakorsomething
like that. But, I have been actively
involved in the Millie Schembechler
Adrenal Cancer Research Fund. That's
been very important tome. And I want
that to continue and that's why we have
already set the date for the next golf
outing which will be July 11,1994.
D: How did itallcometogetherthis
year, and do you have anything else up
B:.No,butl'd like tocome as close
to duplicating what we did. I had a lot
of support. You've got to understand
that everybody in the Athletic Depart-
ment, everybody in the City of Ann
Arbor who knew Millie, everybody
was willing to contribute something to
the cause, whether it was their time,
whetherit wastheirmoney, whetherit
was some kind of contribution that
would help the Golf Classic. Every-
body wanted to be involved and that's
how it was a success. Ithadnothing to
I think it was more a tribute to
Millie than anything else. Ijustworked
to see if it wouldcome off. Everybody
contributed. That's what made it such
D: It's reported that you are a big
B: I've been doing some speaking.
I'm on some boards of companies.
B: Well, I doa lot ofthem. I still go
tosomehigh schools tospeak. I still do
someof that. But, I'vehad to cutback
because when people found out that I
was unemployed, there were 10 times
as many requests as I can possibly fill.
Ijustcouldn'tdo them all. So Ihavecut
back on those things.
D: Okay. Let's move from history
to the present. Your office here is in
Schembechler Hall. A few years ago
when theydedicated it, youdidn'teven
want it to be Schembechler Hall. You
pions." But many supporters said of
iM M MM 1 ,
course it should be SchembechlerHall.
How do you feel about it now?
B: Well, I think it was more a
Regents' decision than just friends. I
think probably alotof... well, if that's
what they want, fine, but it wasn't
necessary because whatthis building is
the CenterforChampions. That'show
we billed it when we were asking for
support, and we had no intention of
putting mynameon thebuilding, notat
all. That wasn't the intent at all.
BOON... The NCAA
D: Asacoach, you wereanoutspo-
ken participantin NCAA politics. You
were President of the American Foot-
ball Coaches Association. Today your
views stillsurface wheneverabig issue
participate in intercollegiate sports be-
cause itjustcan'tbe financed. Ibelieve
in having sports available on the basis
of interest. I believe that we cannot
continue to give grants-in-aids as we
now do to all participants.
And I believe that there is a tre-
mendous misunderstanding of how a
football program is run. It's the one
sportwhere itdoesn'tfit into any equa-
tion of gender equity no matter how
you add it up, and so therefore it is the
one sport that is undeniably a men's
game. It's a man's game. And there is
noequivalentfor women. Imean, there
just isn't any.
Now, it's one thing to say that we
could cut support of the football pro-
gram, but you don't do that and at the
more than we already have. You see
when I started outin football, we played
nine games. We didn't have enough
money, so we played ten games. We
didn'thave enough money, so weplay
eleven games. We didn'thave enough
money, so we raised ticket prices on
football. The poor sport has had to
carry the load of intercollegiate athlet-
ics down through history and nobody
wants to respect that.
D: There have been a number of
different proposals to supplant the bowl
system with playoffs. Would you be
opposed to that?
B: Yes, I like thebowl system. You
can't supplant the bowl system be-
cause there is no way in hell you can
pick two teams and say let these two
play for the national championship
because the best team may be the sev-
enth ranked team.
D: Sowhat's yourview on thebowl
coalition as it stands right now?
B: Inmyjudgment,it will probably
disintegrate within the next couple of
B: Becauseit'snot apracticalthing
to do. The bowls will start to fight
among themselves and the coalition
will not last.
BO ON... The Tigers
D: I have a couple of questions
about your years with the Tigers. Are
you open to those now?
B: The experience with the Tigers
and thepeople thatIwas involvedwith
from the Commissioner's office to the
American League, other owners, the
people at the Detroit Tigers, Sparky
Anderson, players, myrelationship was
very good. I enjoyed every minute of
the time I was there. I only had one
problem. That was with ownership.
Otherwise, my experience with base-
ball was good.
D: I specifically wanted to ask you
about the transition that you made from
football coach/athletic director to team
president. Some wondered at the time
how a football coach that was used to
dailycontact with the young men in his
own program was going to switch to
sitting in an office essentially watching
somebody else run the team and not
being able to have that kind of input.
How did that work?
B: Well, it worked fine because I
understood what the job was before I
ever wentthere.Iwasn'tgoing tocoach
thebaseball teamand, whatIattempted
to do is to put in a program, down
through the minor leagues, thatwould
benefit the Tigers and make us com-
petitive in the future. That would take
quite along time in terms of the coach-
ing facilities, medical, training--I put
all those things in, tried to get some-
thing going there. And it takes time to
do that, but we were on the right track.
Next week, Bo discusses allaspects
of college football, including Michi-
gan and the Big Ten, the Michigan
Athletic Department, and hisplansfor
r, The R,.H. Factor
Pennant races show
majesty in final year
t will be some time before one can truly appreciate what transpired the
last few weeks in the cities of Atlanta and San Francisco.
The greatest occurrence in sports appeared for the final time, providing
baseball fans one last flourish before fading into history.
A Pennant Race.
Born 1869. Died 1993.
The majesty of those three words says it all. The visions and feelings
they inspire can be manufactured in no other way.
But as of yesterday, when the Atlanta Braves clinched the National
League West title in the final game of the 1993 season, this amorphous
creature became a thing of the past. Gone the way of the Washington
Senators, the two-handed catch and pitching on three days' rest.
Ever since the powers that be (a.k.a. the morons who run major
league baseball) decided to expand the playoffs and eliminated the need
for a team to win its division in order to become World Series champions,
there has been a stunned disbelief among baseball purists.
The sanctity of baseball - that only four teams, all champions in their
own right, can compete in the postseason - was discarded in the name
of "progress." (Read: financial greed.)
But the words wildcard and baseball go together about as well as Bert
and Loni. Those who say that four extra teams will add more excitement
to the playoffs were probably the same nincompoops who were rooting
for Robin Ventura to knock out Nolan Ryan.
The very thing that made this past year's pennant race so wonderfully
sweet was that the winner moved on to face the Philadelphia Phillies with
an unbelievable 104-58 record and the loser went golfing with a so-so
103-59. To the victor went the spoils.
It is ironic that in this season of mayhem - played without a
commissioner to put a stop to the almost-daily brawls or the my-
superstar-for-your-draft-pick trades by the San Diego Padres - has given
birth to the most memorable pennant race in recent memory.
The Great Race of 1993 will go down in history as one of the most
exciting finishes of any sport at any time. The Braves, with possibly the
best starting pitching staff in the past 20 years in Greg Maddux, Tom
Glavine, Steve Avery and John Smoltz, and the Giants, with the game's
best player in Barry Bonds, have done more to promote baseball than
anything in the recent past.
Even more ironic is the fact that in the pennant race's final year, when
owners decided that an expanded playoff format would be more exciting
and thus, more profitable, there were three other exciting races to fill the
stands and line the owners' pockets.
It wasn't until last week that Toronto finally punched out the Yankees
and Orioles. And Chicago andPhiladelphia captured their division crowns
only afterTexas and Montreal collapsed from exhaustion, unable to endure to
the tension and pressure.
But that's what the pennant race is all about. The season is a
marathon, complete with a final kick toward the finish line. And if you are
lucky, maybe your team is playing for something in late September or,
even better, in early October.
Someday in the near future, maybe when a second-place team is
celebrating its world championship with the bubbly and a ticker-tape
parade, people will wish they had treated this final pennant race with a
little more respect.
In the meantime, here is my small attempt at paying homage to the
national pastime's finest quality.
There is no one final place where I'd bury the pennant race to rest in
peace forever. I think I might sprinkle it around.
I'd put a little in the old Polo Grounds where it helped fire Bobby
Thomson's Shot Heard Round the World in 1951.
And maybe some in Fenway Park, at the base of the Green Monster,
where Red Sox fans wish Bucky Dent's home run could have landed in 1978.
Wherever its final resting place might be, it is important to remember
just how wonderful it was to see two teams deciding an entire 162-game
season on one Sunday afternoon.
Unfortunately, now memories are all we have left.
- The R.H. Factor appears every other week in SPORTSMonday.
is discussed, especially when it per-
tains to Michigan sports. Let's deal
with the biggest one. Whatabout gen-
der equity. How do you see this all
B: Iknewyouwould ask that.Well,
let's putit this way. When Title IX first
came down, I think at that time every-
body agreed that it is not the American
Way tohave aquota system, you know,
that we have one for here, and one
there. That's not the way to do it. The
way todo it is base iton interest. How
interested they are in participating in
intercollegiate sportsratherthan doing
it at intramural, or casual individual
sports. I don't believe in a quota sys-
tem. I don't believe one for one. It's
only the intent because that's what
politicians and everybody want to in-
terpret because it makes them sound
good tohelp them getvotes. But that's
not the intent of the rule. The intent of
the rule is tohave participation for both
men and women based on their inter-
It's aknownfactthat there aremore
men thatcompete in high school sports
than there are women. So, it stands to
reason that the same ratio should be, on
the basis of interest. the same in college
as it is in high school. You don't sud-
denly say, well we have to go recruit
more so that we can be totally and
completely equal. It's only been in the
last few years that we have really em-
phasized the women's programs here
and have gained some measure of suc-
cess and, to be honest with you, the
shortperiodof time thatlwas Athletic
Director, I promoted that because I
believed that that was something that
we had to do.
We can provide the opportunities,
but we cannot economically provide
grants-in-aid to everyone who wants to
same time you sit in an athletic board of
control meeting and say we'reshortof
money. Oh. Is that right? Well, then
we'll raise football tickets $3 and as-
sume that I'm going to put a product
out there that's going to put 105,000
people in the stadium and if that coach
doesn'tdothat, then we'lljust fire that
D: Let'sgoontoanotherissue. How
about the presently debated national
football championship, whether there
should be one, how there should be
B: Ihavealways been opposed to it
because it's not in the best interest of
the players. It's not in the best interest
of the players who are playing football
and seriously trying to get a degree of
their choice. It is not academically
sound. That's the onlyreason to turn it
down. Can't spend that much time on
football especially when you get down
to big games that are going to mean the
You can't add to our schedule any
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