Friday, November 17, 2006

A Thought On Bo

On the day before Michigan and Ohio State meet for the 103rd time, Bo Schembechler passed away at the age of 77 from an apparent heart attack. Fittingly, Bo’s final hours were spent doing what he has done almost everyday since 1969, sharing his love of College Football and the University of Michigan with anyone who cared to listen.

For almost 30 years Bo was the face of both the University of Michigan and its football program. Bo resurrected the storied program from the ashes of mediocrity and returned it nation prominence. He was Michigan. He symbolized the aspiration of perfection without the conceit of expecting it.

Now, a day prior to Michigan’s biggest game in a decade, Bo has been taken from us and a void has been left in his stead. The anticipation of this game was enough to make even the causal fan act as if he was a child at 4am on Christmas morning. It was that way for Bo, only more so. Limited in his mobility, Bo had said he would not make the trip to Columbus, but would watch the game from home. This was a game he could not wait to see. Now, it is a game he will observe it from a better place.

While we grieve it is important to remember who Bo was. If there was ever a man who could be described as a 77 year-old kid, it was Bo Schembechler. When talking about Michigan he couldn’t wipe the smile off his face. There was always a twinkle you couldn’t look away from and an energy in his voice that made him mesmerizing. He was loyal in the manner only a 7 year old child could be. When people would question his beloved University or his players he would rise up in anger to right a perceived wrong, but also to shield the players, coaches and fans he cared so much about.

What more is there to say about someone like Bo other than to say he was a good man? A good man in the sense that he cared for those around him, friend and foe a like. A good man in that he represented himself only as who he was, not taken to the opinions of others, determined to be himself in the face a world that was changing faster than he was. A good man who left the world a better place than he entered it. A good man who earned the respect of friend and foe alike.

Every college football fan will grieve his loss in some form or another. However, in our sorrow we must look to Bo for inspiration one more time. He loved college football and the University of Michigan. There are few things he treasured more than a well played Saturday game. To honor his memory, let’s play football tomorrow. Let’s play it well.

That is the best way to remember a good man who meant so much to all of us.


At 12:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a terrible loss for football and, quite obviously, for Michigan. Recalling Bo recalls a time when everything about a team (and, consequently, about its fans and its region) could be entirely and no more appropriately represented in its coach. The coaches dominated the landscape of an entire program much more so than today where commercialization, finances, fickleness and the sort make the institutions we support much more fleeting. Bo was permanent and always will be. Those last few with names like Paterno or Landry or Auerbach still exist but the era is gone. Now, when we lose one that club's members, we mourn not only the loss of their person but of the true greatness they helped to build. I believe it is fair to say that all of football mourns Bo along with you.


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