Highlights from the coaching career of the former Michigan football coaching legend.
DETROIT - Bo Schembechler always put the team first, even during the final days of his life.
At a Monday news conference to kick off Michigan-Ohio State week, the former Wolverines coach was asked if he would speak with the team before The Game.
“I don’t anticipate that,” Schembechler said. “They can handle that themselves.”
It’s a safe bet he knew he would indeed address the team Thursday but didn’t want to draw attention to himself. Not with his “the team, the team, the team,” mantra.
Schembechler always put the needs of Michigan’s football squad before his own.
Even on the eve of his death.
Schembechler died at age 77 Friday when his failing heart stopped working, but not before he gave one last speech to the second-ranked Wolverines before they played No. 1 Ohio State.
“Ironically, he and I were going to see each other yesterday, but he wanted to address the team,” Dr. Kim Eagle, Schembechler’s physician, said at Providence Hospital in the Detroit suburb of Southfield, where the famed coach was pronounced dead at 11:42 a.m.
Michigan players, toddlers when Schembechler’s career was winding down in the late 1980s, were somber Friday afternoon as they left the campus building that bears his name and boarded buses for the 3½-hour drive to Columbus, Ohio.
“We have lost a giant at Michigan and in college football,” Carr said in a statement. “There was never a greater ambassador for the University of Michigan, or college football, than Bo. Personally, I have lost a man I love.”
Schembechler’s health prevented him from traveling to road games in recent years, but he had planned to watch the 103rd Michigan-Ohio State matchup at home on his new, 50-inch TV.
Instead, a moment of silence was planned to honor him before Saturday’s game.
In the end, Michigan vs. Ohio State might have been too much for Schembechler.
The man with half-century-old roots to The Game died on the eve of perhaps the biggest matchup in the storied rivalry’s history, and his doctor said it might have been because of all the excitement.
“It’s fair to say Bo wanted to live his life with vigor,” Eagle said.
Could the stress of Saturday’s game have caused his death?
“I believe that’s entirely possible,” Eagle said.
Schembechler had a device that worked as a pacemaker and defibrillator implanted just last month after his heart raced as he left the same TV studio.
Doctors said he didn’t have a heart attack Friday as much as his heart just quit working.
“The electrical part of the heart was working fine, but the mechanical part was not working,” said Dr. Shukri David, Providence Hospital’s head of cardiology. “The heart was sending signals to the heart muscle to contract. The muscle was not responding.”
Getting worked up before a big game was nothing new for Schembechler. He had a heart attack on the eve of his first Rose Bowl in 1970 and another one in 1987, and he had two quadruple heart-bypass operations. He also had diabetes.
“The fact that he lived to this day is nothing short of a miracle,” Eagle said.
Schembechler played for Woody Hayes at Miami of Ohio, began his coaching career as a graduate assistant for Hayes at Ohio State, and then, in his first season at Michigan in 1969, knocked off Hayes’ unbeaten Buckeyes, snapping their 22-game winning streak.
“I’ll never forget when Woody said at the dinner we had for him after he retired,” Schembechler recalled Monday in front of a sea of reporters, photographers and videographers. “He looked down at me and said, ’God damn you, you will never win a bigger game than that.’ And he was right. I don’t think I ever did.”
Schembechler was a seven-time Big Ten coach of the year, compiling a 194-48-5 record at Michigan from 1969-89. His record in 26 years of coaching was 234-65-8. He never had a losing season.
“I’m not sure he has gotten his due as far as being one of the truly great football coaches of all time,” Penn State coach Joe Paterno said. “I’m going to miss him.”
CFT: Syracuse confirmed that former quarterbacks Donovan McNabb and Don McPherson will have their respective jerseys raised to the Carrier Dome roof this year.
CFT: Senior receiver Wilson Van Hooser is transferring from Tulane to help care for his ailing mother.
Bo Schembechler dies
Nov. 17: Bo Schembechler, who became one of college football’s great coaches in two decades at Michigan, died Friday. NBC's Brian Williams reports.
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