Today’s post is titled – A Final Ode to Bo Schembechler. My article today is dedicated to the memory of Michigan Legend Bo Schembechler who went to rest in peace on this day in 2006. The day that Bo died is one of those days that I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard the sad news. Bo had been dodging fate for years with his bad heart, but his amazing spirit kept him going STRONG! Even though he had been having some recent health problems, his death came as a real shocker to Michigan Nation! Of course, Bo was a Buckeye by birth, but a Michigan Man by choice – that’s for sure! I am certain that Bo Schembechler bled “Maize and Blue” when he died.
Michigan Athletic Director Don Canham took a big chance when he hired Glenn Edward Schembechler to become Michigan’s fourteenth Head Football Coach in December 1968. Most people in the State of Michigan had never heard of Schembechler and the newspapers questioned the hire with headlines that read “Bo Who?” The large majority of sports columnists and Wolverine fans had no idea who Bo Schembechler was, but Bo knew a lot about Michigan. He had great respect for the history and traditions that were unique to Michigan. Bo viewed his new job as the opportunity of a lifetime. He hit the ground running in January 1969 and didn’t stop until he hung up his whistle in January 1990.
I had the opportunity to meet Bo Schembechler while I was an Army ROTC instructor at The University of Michigan from 1985 to 1989. Bo did a number of “favors” for me over the years and I tried to show my appreciation by writing a tribute that I wrote called, An Ode to Bo. My effort to honor Bo for his outstanding coaching career turned into a scholarship program for the Michigan Athletic Department and the Army ROTC Program at Michigan.
Don Canham personally approved my poem for the fundraising effort in 1987. The original poem captured Bo’s work from 1969 to 1987. After he retired, I updated it and re-titled my work. Unfortunately, I never had a chance to share the final version with Bo before he passed. That is something I truly regret. I think he would have liked my changes. Here is the final version of my poem that I call, “A Final Ode to Bo.” Enjoy!
A Final Ode to Bo
by Barry B. Gallagher
Glenn Edward Schembechler, the man who we called “Bo”
Came to old Ann Arbor town a long, long time ago.
He came to coach the Wolverines, of legendary football fame
This tough, hard driving buckeye with the unpronounceable name!
People scoffed at AD Canham for his apparent oversight
Hiring a “Little Woody” to coach, somehow just didn’t seem right.
But, Schembechler proved his loyalty that very first coaching year
When his Wolverines ambushed the buckeyes and knocked Woody on his ear!
In twenty-one years of coaching the fabled Maize and Blue
Bo accomplished everything that a football coach should do.
Big Ten titles rolled in, like cars off the assembly line
Thirteen of his twenty-one teams were champions starting in sixty-nine!
Bowl games became a habit for players and fans alike
The Wolverine faithful looked forward to their annual mid-winter hike.
Bo recruited outstanding players from places far and near
He coached forty All-Americans and had some new ones every year!
And if winning is your yardstick, then Bo was quite a man
His lofty winning percentage satisfied even the most ardent fan.
He toiled in the shadows of Crisler, Oosterbaan, Elliott and Yost
But, after all the years and games, twas Bo who won the most!
“The Team, The Team, The Team” was his famous battle cry
His players responded by thinking “We” instead of a selfish “I.”
Defense and the running game were his famous bread and butter
Eventually, he let his quarterbacks throw the ball, but hated to watch it flutter!
His two hundred thirty-four wins placed him among the all-time best
Somehow, he survived the pressures and maintained his youthful zest.
Like a maestro leading his orchestra, he was a master of his craft
He excelled as a teacher and leader and loved to share a good laugh!
Ufer said “General Bo” was a great one, but he always said, “No Way!”
Maybe he was just a man with his whistle who was thankful for each new day.
He finished his career atop Michigan’s all-time victory heap
And to every player who stayed with him – his promise he did keep!
THOSE WHO STAYED WERE CHAMPIONS!
So, please take a moment to remember the amazing Michigan career of Glenn Edward “Bo” Schembechler. He is the first, and only, Michigan Football coach to win 194 games and 13 Big Ten Championships. Bo Schembechler is truly a Michigan legend who gave his all for all things Wolverine. May Bo continue to rest in eternal peace. Go Blue!