2C - Monday, November 20, 2006
Always on the go: Bo's final days
By CHRISTINA HILDRETH
Daily News Editor
Bo Schembechler lived his last days the
way he lived all the others: on the go.
His most recent heart troubles started
a month ago. On Oct. 20, he was taping
the show "Big Ten Ticket" at WXYZ stu-
dios in Southfield when he collapsed on
the set. Afterward, he spent several days
at the University Hospital. Kim Eagle,
his personal physician of five years, and
a team of cardiologists implanted a new
pacemaker and defibrillator in his chest.
They hoped the new devices would shock
his occasionally rapid heart rhythms back
to a normal tempo.
He spent four days in the hospital, but it
didn't seem to dampen his spirits. English
Prof. John Bacon, who was helping the
coach write a book on leadership, said he
often gave the nurses a hard time.
Two days after the operation, Bacon
said, a nurse checked in on the man who
had come to embody Michigan football.
She asked him how much he weighed.
He responded firmly: "Young lady, I
weigh 195 pounds of blue twisted steel."
Schembechler carried that enthusiasm
with him after leaving the hospital. His
next three weeks were filled with media
interviews, pep talks and public appear-
As the team continued winning, it
seemed everyone wanted to know what
Schembechler thought. More than 14
news articles quoted him between Oct. 24
The media barrage picked up speed this
week as America readied itself for today's
game against Ohio State, which some call
the rivalry's biggest contest.
Schembechler made what would be his
final stop on campus last Monday, appear-
ing at a press conference to discuss the
game. Fervent as ever, the legend defend-
ed current coach Lloyd Carr's poor record
against Ohio State coach Jim Tressel.
In front of a crowd of media personnel,
he stood strong. When an athletic depart-
ment official offered him a stool to lean
on, he refused.
"I don't need this," he said.
Tuesday night, he visited longtime
friend and former player Jim Brandstet-
ter on the WXYT sports radio talk show,
Michigan Sports Weekly. In the 11-minute
interview with Brandstetter and co-hosts
Doug Karsch and Art Regner, the coach
did the usual - talked Wolverine foot-
Thursday was supposed to be a doctor's
appointment. But Schembechler canceled
to talk to the team, to pump them up
before the game.
That morning was the last time Eagle
spoke with the coach. They were sup-
posed to reschedule the appointment
before Schembechler joined his family for
"What was very clear to me in our
conversation was, 'When you give me
an appointment, let's make sure I get a
chance to talk to the team,' "Eagle said in
At 11a.m., the coach attended the funer-
al of his former quarterback Tom Slade,
who died of leukemia Monday.
That night, Schembechler dined with
former player David Brandon, now a Uni-
Schembechler woke early the next day
and gave a radio interview before heading
to the WXYZ studio to tape this week's
installation of "Big Ten Ticket."
Here his perseverance finally faltered.
Schembechler collapsed at 9:25 a.m. in
the studio. He was immediately rushed to
Providence Hospital, six miles away. The
coach was pronounced dead at 11:42 a.m.
He had planned to watch tomorrow's
game at home on his new 50-inch plasma-
Some say he might have pushed too
hard in his last days, but Eagle said that's
just the way the coach lived.
"He's the kind of man who really want-
ed to enjoy this moment with Michigan
football like he did every fall," the physi-
cian said. "He understood that there's a
part of that that is stressful, but he reveled
in all of that."
Eagle said Schembechler generally
made good choices regarding his health,
but that his heart condition was overdue
to take his life.
"Considering the heart problems he
had, he lived many, many years beyond
what you might expect," he said.
- Andrew Grossman, Drew Philip and
Brian Tengel contributed to this report.
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
A LAST DINNER WITH A LEGEND
When University Regent David Brandon, a farmer Mich-
igan football player, sat down to dinner Thursday night
with his former coach, he never imagined he would be
seeing his friend during some of his last hours.
Brandon spent the evening having dinner with Bo
Schembechler, his wife Cathy and Regent Andrea
Brandon, who played on three Big Ten championship
teams in the early 1970s under Schembechler, said that
during the dinner he and his former coach reminisced
about their glory days.
"We laughed a lot last night as we were reflecting,"
Brandon said. "I told him that between the time that
practices started and ended, I was sure that every
player on the team hated him, and he got a big smile
on his face."
But Brandon was quick to point out that those feelings
never left the practice field.
By the time practice was over for five minutes, he
would come up to you and put his arm around you and
tell you he appreciated you," Brandon said. "Then you'd
realize, geez, we're really lucky, we're out here playing
for a legend."
Schembechler was in good spirits, but Brandon said it
was clear his health was fragile.
"He clearly was still recovering from the episode that
he had a couple of weeks ago," Brandon said. "He indi-
cated to me that he was a little frustrated because he
wasn't getting his strength back as fast as he wanted
to. Mentally, he was the same Bo I met 36 years ago."
Former players reminisce
By AMBER COLVIN
Daily Sports Writer
Everyone who wore the winged helmet for Bo
Schembechler can drum up a favorite story of the
For 1981 All-American offensive tackle Ed
Muransky, it was jimmying the locker room scale
so he and a teammate could always make weight,
only for Schembechler to reveal the night before
the Ohio State game that he had been on to them
As Muransky recalls it, Schembechler came to
their room that night and said, "Do you fat-asses
really think that Ithought you weighed 284 pounds
the entire year? Go kick some ass tomorrow."
University Regent David Brandon, who cap-
bechler as a high school senior. Brandon arrived at
the coach's home to find the legend dressed for the
occasion - in a bathrobe and slippers.
Rousing pregame pep talks. Strange prac-
tice antics (inflatable baseball bats, anyone?). An
intense pride for the Maize and Blue. Schem-
bechler had a special style of coaching that his
players never forget.
"Bo was intense to the point of frightening at
times," Brandon said. "Those intense hours of
practices were not fun, but they always made us
better. You could hate him during the time you
were out there on the practice field, but by the
time practice was over for five minutes, he would
come up to you, put his arm around you and tell
you he appreciated what you had done, and then
you'd realize, geez, we're really lucky. We're out
here playing for a legend."
Former Wolverine safety Jim Betts couldn't
settle on one trait to describe Schembechler.
"He was crazy," Betts said. "He was compas-
sionate. He was sensitive. He was hard-nosed
- he was a little bit of everything."
More than a coach, Schembechler also played
the role of teacher to his pack of Wolverines. Many
players recall how the coach didn't just prepare
them for the upcoming games, but for life after
During his 21 seasons at the helm of Michigan
football, Schembechler groomed 117 NFL draft
picks, 38 first-team All Americans and 92 first-
team All-Big Ten players.
"He was always about creating a better future,"
said Fritz Seyfirth, a member of the team in the
early '70s and a former associate athletic director.
"I truly respect the man for the caring attitude he
had towards all of the kids on the football team.
All of us who ever played for himlook at him with
such admiration. He would do anything for any of
us at any time."
Even those who didn't have the opportunity
to suit up for the program's winningest coach felt
the impact of his work. It wasn't hard, considering
Schembechler was a constantcpresence at practice
and at meetings.
John Navarre, Michigan's starting quarterback
from 2001 to 2003, saw Schembechler in a team
setting and in a personal setting.
"I met with him a number of times one-on-one,
during the down times when I was a sophomore
and the high times when I finished off my senior
year," Navarre said. "He always had coaching
advice for me, talked to me and assessed my play,
told me what I needed to do better, told me what
I was doing well. We had a good relationship like
that. I respected everything he told me."
- Gabe Edelson, Anne Joling, Andrew Grossman
and Mark Giannotto contributed to this report.
Bo Schembechler had a major impact on every player he coached during his
illustrious tenure at Michigan.
Rivalry cast aside,
Columbus reveres Bo
By STEPHANIE WRIGHT
Daily Sports Editor
COLUMBUS - On the day of former Michigan
coach Bo Schembechler's death, Ohio State students
put their hatred for the Wolverines aside and shared
their deep respect for the coaching legend.
Instead of hurling insults at nearby Michigan fans,
many Ohio State students somberly discussed Schem-
bechler's death as they walked across campus.
Schembechler may have been a Michigan man, but
Buckeye fans certainly recognized his greatness Fri-
"Bo was a guy who made this rivalry what it is
today," Ohio State junior Ryan Baker said. "From the
first time Bo and Woody matched up until (two years
ago) when he was pissed off about the dogs sniffing
the bags, he always had something to say. He always
had fuel for the fire. And for him to die now, it's crazy
timing, but also sad."
A number of Buckeye fans expressed their deep
sympathies for the Schembechler family, Michigan
players, coaches and even Wolverine fans. Ohio State
sophomore David Lustenberger urged his fellow stu-
dents to keep those close to Schembechler in their
thoughts and prayers, even with the hatred nearly
everyone on campus has for Michigan.
Ohio State senior Jessica Lang echoed that senti-
ment. She heard the news on the radio and talked
about Schembechler's passing with her roommates
Even though Lang knew very little about "the
Woody Hayes of Michigan" before Friday, his death
affected her deeply.
"It was more of a shock, more 'Oh my gosh, that's
such a coincidence,' " Lang said. "We're all just very
shocked. ... It's going to be in the back of our minds
Lang didn't expect Ohio State students to change
their pregame plans because of Schembechler's pass-
ing. Baker agreed, saying that the mood before kick-
off will be considerably more somber now, but that
Schembechler's death won't have a major impact on
the game itself.
Even so, Lang did believe the Buckeye faithful
would show their respect for the onetime Ohio State
assistant and wouldn't bring up his death in their
Legendary coach Bo Schembechler left a lasting impression on those who coached with him, including Lloyd Carr.
Coaches learned fromger
Band to change moniker
By KEVIN WRIGHT
Daily Sports Editor
COLUMBUS - Instead of the intense hatred
of everything Michigan that has come to define
the Dead Schembechlers, the four-member punk
band's somber mood matched that of Wolverine
nation Friday as it held a brief press conference
to address the death of former Michigan coach Bo
The band with extreme Buckeye loyalties sur-
prised those gathered when it said Friday night
would likely be its last concert, and that if it plays
any more, it will drop its current name.
The four members came out in typical Woody
Hayes attire. But absent was their usual brashness
toward Michigan. They stood with hands folded in
front of them, eyes turned to the floor. The death
of the icon behind their name had hit them harder
than most would have expected.
"First, foremost, most importantly, our group
would like to extend our deepest sympathies and
heartfelt prayers to the Schembechler family on
their loss," frontman Bo Biafra said.
Even though the band - whose name epitomizes
the rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State -
dressed like Schembechler's Buckeye counterpart,
it expressed the utmost respect for the former Wol-
"Bo Schembechler was the most valiant opponent
Ohio State has ever had," band spokesman and lead
singer Bo Biafra said. "We are terribly sorry (he
Biafra and his bandmates held a concert Friday
night as a part of Ohio State's "Beat Michigan"
week. They will donate all proceeds to a charity of
the Schembechler family's choice.
The band was to play what Biafra called "the
greatest prelude you could ever expect," but after
Schembechler passed, the band's mood changed
just like the sign above the Newport Music Hall.
The lettered sign above the entrance had read
"Beat Michigan Rally" and "The Dead Schem-
bechlers" earlier in the day.
But after news of Schembechler's death reached
Columbus, the sign was changed to read, "Beat
Michigan Rally" and "God Bless Bo."
The members of the band, formed in 1990, believe
the Buckeyes have never lost to the Wolverines.
They denounce Michigan wins as mere Wolverine
lies. Their hits, which can be found on YouTube,
include "Bomb Ann Arbor Now," "M Means Moron"
and "I Wipe My Ass with Wolverine Fur."
While the name of the band may seem extreme,
Schembechler joked about the group at his press
conference last Monday, saying he almost joined
them when he was hospitalized late in October.
Schembechler had not heard of the band until a
reporter from told him of the Woody Hayes look-
alikes and their creative name.
By CHRIS HERRING
Daily Sports Writer
Those who watched Bo Schembechler pace the side-
lines for more than two decades saw just one side of the
man who meant so much more to those who knew him
But his fellow Michigan coaches saw a different
Schembechler away from the field.
"If you ever gothim away from a football field, he was a
completely different person," said men's cross country and
track coach Ron Warhurst, who has been coaching since
1974, five years after Schembechler came to Michigan.
"He was a lot quieter and calmer sometimes," War-
hurst recalled. "But if you ever got him near a football
field, it was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."
Women's swimming and diving coach Jim Richard-
son, who has been with Michigan since 1985, remem-
bered Bo's gentler side, saying Schembechler often
checked in to make sure all was well.
"(Former men's swim coach) Jon Urbanchek and I
used to go for runs early in the morning heading down
Dewey Street," the coach of 22 years said. "I remem-
ber Bo would be driving around, and he would always
pull alongside us and roll down his window to chat. He
would always ask how things were going in swimming,
both with us and the team.
"That shows you the side of Bo that a lot of people (in
the department) got to see, and that's how he engaged
people in the (athletic) department. ... He didn't ever
have to pull over to talk to us; it just showed how much
respect he had for everybody."
Bo had a lasting impact on those he interacted with,
but he touched Michigan coaches he didn't know, too.
"I can assure you that of the 25 varsity coaches we
have here, every one of them looks up to him with the
same respect and admiration," women's cross country
coach Mike McGuire said. "He was Michigan."
Schembechler's friends said he loved challenging
those around him to improve.
Warhurst recalls asking Schembechler to loan him
some of his football players who could double as sprint-
ers for the track team.
He was met with a less than agreeable, yet amusing
"He would say, 'I don't want any of the damn track
guys trying to play football. I want a football player first,
then I might consider letting him on the track,' " War-
Despite his initial reaction, Bo eventually relented
and allowed All-American tailback Butch Woolfolk to
But it didn't come without a price to Woolfolk.
"He'd let Butch come over for track, and of course
(Woolfolk) was their starting tailback," Warhurst said.
"So when he went back to football, Bo put him at third
string. Butch knew that (Schembechler) was playing
with him. (Woolfolk) said, 'I know, and Bo knows, who
is starting on September 1st."'
As Woolfolk predicted, he had the starting spot again
by the time the season opened. But in classic form, Bo
made sure Woolfolk worked for the job.
"That's the type of guy Bo was," Warhurst said. "He
made you earn everything that you got."