Go Blue Go
An Excerpt from the New Book Bo’s Warriors
Bo Schembechler and the Transformation of Michigan Football
Roughly, 75 to 80 players stayed with the team. They may have complained about some of the tactics employed by Bo, but they stayed. Along the way, one or two of them would be talked out of quitting the team-Reggie McKenzie, for one. McKenzie went through a spell thinking that Bo was unfairly on his back. He was reminded by his family, “McKenzie men do not quit.” And from that point on, Reggie showed Bo his character. He told himself, “I’m not going to let Bo beat me.”
These young men became strongly motivated to contribute to the team’s welfare and advance its objectives instead of their own individual achievements. They bonded on the field and off. They roomed together, took the same classes, socialized, partied, got fixed up on dates by roommates, worked at the same places in the off-season, pledged the same fraternities, boycotted the same classes, and collectively they became inspired together. They were a part of something much larger than themselves (for one thing, University of Michigan’s gridiron history). And with a campus undergoing serious racial unrest in the 1960s, according to Jim Brands tatter, told them, “we are one race-Michigan football. You guys are not about race. No one from the outside is going to get between us. Race is not an issue.” Mike Keller remembered the coach putting it in more colorful terms: “Son of a bitch, you’re not red, you’re not white, and you’re not blue. You’re Michigan.” Bo also supported the Mellow Men’s (comprised of seven African- American football players) stand on boycotting the economics building during a campus demonstration.
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