Bo Schembechler, R.I.P.

Over at MGoBlog, Brian Cook has reported the sad news that Michigan coaching legend Bo Schembechler has passed away, apparently following a severe heart attack. C.N.N. has picked up the story from local television news reports.

I can relate to how the Wolverine faithful must be feeling right now. Earlier this season, Bulldog Nation went through a comparable experience following the sudden passing of Erk Russell. Naturally, our sympathies are with the Schembechler family and with the entire University of Michigan community.

Coach Schembechler served 21 years on the sideline in Ann Arbor, taking over a program in 1969 that had been to just one Rose Bowl in the previous 18 seasons and guiding the Maize and Blue to Pasadena in his rookie campaign, capping off a Big Ten championship season with a 24-12 victory over the defending national champion Buckeyes, who had beaten Michigan by a 50-14 margin the year before. (The final score could have been worse, as an Ohio State two-point conversion attempt late in the game failed. When asked afterwards why he had gone for two, Woody Hayes replied, "Because they wouldn't let me go for three.")

On the morning of January 1, 1970, Coach Schembechler had a heart attack and he was hospitalized during the Wolverines' 10-3 loss to Southern California in the Tournament of Roses. It was the first of 11 consecutive autumns in which his Maize and Blue teams would fail to win the final game of the season. Nevertheless, the beloved Bo won more games at Michigan (194) than anyone, outpacing even Fielding Yost (165), and he posted a career 11-9-1 record against archrival Ohio State.

Tomorrow, one day following Coach Schembechler's final, fatal heart attack, his team will take the field saddened by his death but inspired by his life as the Wolverines have been so many times before. I am sure all college football fans who shared Coach Schembechler's love of the greatest sport in the world will join me in saying, "We will miss you, Coach. Godspeed . . . and go Blue!"

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