AN UNUSUAL TRIP
For 12 days and evenings, Frank and I spent quality time with 7 unique football players, 2 coaches, a College -NFL referee and current Athletic Director from the University of Michigan. These players were the core of 1969 Michigan Football during the rivalry with Ohio State that influenced football to this day. The players became so bonded during those years they are, today, still best buddies. Being with these men was like being amidst a hilarious comedy show. They bounce their humor off each other like a fast football play. I just sat back and did what I like most -- laugh. Their era was the turning point of Michigan football. The team was developed by Coach Bo Schembechler, who had unusual training methods. He was a master in psychology and although the players, at the beginning didn’t like him, they learned to admire and love the man to this day.
How did this trip happen?
Frank wrote his second book “Bo’s Warriors” about this great time in Football, the development of Bo’s team, the evolution of each of these men, their backgrounds and their contributions today. He interviewed the men for 2 years by phone and in person, hours at a time, and became a good friend to all of them. They still phone him “just to talk”. The trip was to promote his book, and what a great trip it was. This is just the beginning of our fun journey with them.
I felt like a celebrity’s wife at the Michigan Alumni Association where 200+ people gathered to hear Frank, Coach Hoke and some of the players talk about those successful days of Michigan Football. Three of my favorite fun venues were the radio interview with Frank and players, a function at an M Den gathering, and an interview by Jim Brandstadder’s and Coach Brady Hoke’s weekly Radio Show held at the Pizza House.The timing of the book is pertinent since Coach Hoke is having a poor season and the Fans would like to have Bo, the legend, back for coaching.
Last season and this year we attended the Michigan homecoming game. This year the 1969 team was honored on the field. Both times the players invited us to attend the Tailgate party, before and after, the game. Last year Frank was taken through the Tunnel onto the field to meet the Coach.
My Take on the success.
This is not just about football but instead about boys during turbulent times who developed through the experience of becoming a winning team because of a tough coach. At times they wanted to quit but instead were driven by each other and their coach. The character of each of them was incubated during their childhood. It has been an honor to know all of them.