Bo Schembechler's influence transcended football in Ann Arbor, Michigan
One of football’s most anticipated match ups in years will be played with a heavy heart after former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler passed away in Detroit Friday afternoon.
Bo influenced not only the college football players he coached, but an entire town of kids growing up playing any sport, whether it was hockey, soccer or golf, really. Bo’s intensity, his no-nonsense approach and respect for tradition was seen as the only way to play growing up. That’s how it was taught and looking back, it’s easy to see the impact he had on just about all the sports I played growing up in Ann Arbor.
Ann Arbor teams played their respective sports the old fashioned way. More than a good deal of other cities we played, there was no place for showboating or gimmicks. It didn’t matter if it was T-ball, you were expected to bring your game face. Losing was acceptable but playing without class was cause for upheaval. Just about every coach I had in each sport I played was old school. They were also expected to have some intensity, on high school teams especially. I’m realizing this wasn’t an accident or coincidence. In essence, every youth and high school sports team in the area was striving to be a “Michigan Team” that Schembechler helped define during his 26 years as head coach.
I was also happy to see during coverage on ESPN this afternoon a lot of respect paid to Bo by Ohio State alums and coach Jim Tressell. I usually take any chance I can to throw a low-blow OSU’s way, but it speaks levels to the class of the rivalry for them to separate life from football and a man from rival.
I don’t think Bo’s passing will necessarily be a rallying cry for Michigan tomorrow. It is safe to say a Wolverine victory however will leave me and others who grew up in Ann Arbor especially proud to have grown up in a town where “Bo’s way” was the only way to play.
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Advice for the ages, from a coach for the ages. I'll miss him.