This is almost the 45th anniversary of the University of Michigan’s terrific victory over the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes In 1969. Back then, I remember some of the game as I was with a number of grad students studying psychology for the upcoming preliminary exams.
There are number of explanations and reasons of how and why the young Wolverines were victors on that cold November day. These are some of things that players told me in the writing of Bo’s Warriors: 1. Frank Gusich mentioned about the extreme conditioning tactics of coach Schembechler and that he thought he would be in superb physical condition in the fourth quarter. And because of this conditioning, his team would be victorious. 2. Reggie McKenzie claimed about being with the Mellow Men watching the 1968, Michigan and Ohio State game. In that game, Michigan got slaughtered and lost 50-14. He said his teammates vowed never to let that happen again. 3. A number of the players stated about the coaches shoveling off the snow prior to Monday’s practice and that impressed these players. 4. Coach Schembechler, Coach Moeller, and other coaches and players Frank Gusich, Tom Curtis, Jim Betts, and Thom Darden were all from Ohio. In the communities in which they grew up, it was simply Buckeye territory. Not only did these men not go to the most prestigious school in Ohio, they left and went to its archrival. So for bragging rights it was important for a win. 5. Reggie McKenzie remembered Mad Dog Jim Mandich in the tunnel with fists clenched, tears running down his face spitting out unintelligible words-he will never forget Captain Mandich’s passion. 6. Thom Darden remembered Bo slamming the blackboard and the seniors throwing and breaking chairs as they left before going to the tunnel. Darden will never forget that either. 7. During the season’s practices, Coach Schembechler ran Ohio State’s basic plays so that the defense would know what would be coming on that Saturday. They were prepared. 8. Also, prior to that Ohio State game, the practice squad had a number 50 on their helmets signifying the year before humiliation. 9. On the black board, the Michigan State and Ohio State games were circled. Everyone knew, without a word being spoken, the importance of those rivalry games. 10. The importance of number 10 cannot be overstated:
The week before the Ohio State game, the Wolverines were in Iowa City and they demolished Iowa convincingly. After the game on the way back to Ann Arbor, the players wanted to play Ohio State, right then and there. In other words, they were ready in their own minds. The group ego expected to win that game, and it didn’t matter when or where that game was played. The power of positive thinking /expectation was immense and nothing would diminish it.
In that classic game, Ohio State went down the field and scored, but not the extra point. Michigan received the ball and scored kicking the extra point. Ohio State got the ball and went down the field and scored. They didn’t get the extra point, nor did they shake, Michigan’s confidence. The Wolverines scored three more times to win the game 24 to 12. A large part of that victory was related to the players thinking they were invincible. And, Coach Bo had a lot to do with that tremendous upset.
The moral of the story is about expectations. For more about the power of expectations, visit my other blog. http://ithasnothingtodowithage.blogspot.com/