It’s taken me a long to write this article.
Last year I led a group on a private tour of Michigan Stadium on the Thursday before the Michigan/Ohio State game.
This tour took us all through the press box, on the field, through the tunnel and into the Michigan locker room. But the highlight of the tour was running into Bo Schembechler in the press box Bo was on his way to film an interview segment for HBO about the Michigan/Ohio State rivalry.
He didn’t look well. But when he was introduced to our group he smiled and shook hands and seemed to light up. His health may have been in decline but he still had boundless charm. It was the highlight of the tour to say the least.
The next day Bo died.
I feel incredibly blessed that I got to see him one last time before he passed because Bo Schembechler and Michigan football changed my life.
Several years ago Bo and Jim Brandstatter did a book tour for “Tales from Michigan Stadium”. One night when Bo and Jim and were signing copies at the local Ann Arbor M-Den I hung around until the lines dissipated and took the opportunity to speak with Bo.
I wanted him to know what an impact he had on my life. I told him how I decided at young age to attend the University of Michigan. That a lot of people told me that it would never happen- that kids from my high school didn’t go to Big Ten Universities. That in my heart I knew what the mind can conceive and believe the mind can achieve and I was going the University of Michigan. I told him how I saw Anthony Carter score a touchdown at my first Michigan game but the Wolverines lost 9-7. I told him how although my high school football uniform was practically identical to Ohio State I wore a blue shirt underneath my pads for Michigan. Of how I disappointed I was to get waitlisted when I first applied to Michigan, of how I wouldn’t give up until I was admitted. I told how I drove cross country to see him coach his last game in the Rose Bowl only to see the referees call a bogus holding penalty to negate a 4th down conversion to end Michigan’s chances late in the game. I told him how after UM commencement in the stadium I walked out the tunnel of Michigan Stadium for the first time.
Bo looked at me for second and then said, “You done good!”
I’m sure he heard these kind of stories all the time.
After this I thanked him and got his autograph on a photo of us taken during a recruiting visit to Michigan football practice. The photo is proudly displayed on my wall.
The word hero gets thrown around a lot and some question whether a football coach is worthy of such praise.
But what is a hero? I believe a hero is someone who inspires us to greatness.
Bo Schembechler is one of my heroes. And I make no apologies to anyone for that.