It has been reported that Bo Schembechler understood people and was a true “psychologist. “ In fact, he inherited a group of young men who loved the game of football. In order to work with the ones that loved the game, the most, he weeded out the others by incorporating extremely harsh physical means with brutal practices and scrimmages. Schembechler knew and believed that man has many needs and requires goal fulfilment. And, the human motivational system works as a result of tension that can either be generated or reduced [goal completion]. He also knew that one major attainment goal of these young men was playing football for the University of Michigan.
Psychologist Schembechler knew that his players had needs of Abasement [accepting of blame or criticism during practices and games-in fact, the players were graded on their play or performance in games]; Achievement [to overcome obstacles, to excel and surpass others-competition with a fellow teammate or an opposing player-making first string; when Jim Brandstatter made a key block and then knew he could do the job]; Affiliation [loyalty with teammates-Mike Keller referred to it as a Band of Brothers]; Aggression [overcoming opposition and oppose forcefully-dominate- Reggie McKenzie wanted to destroy his opponents]; Counteraction [overcoming weakness and maintaining self-respect-practice, practice, practice-to run the play correctly]; Deference [to admire a superior-Thom Darden playing physical basketball with the position coaches with Gary Moeller]; Dominance [to control one’s environment-to win the game-especially against the Buckeyes]; Exhibition [to make an impression-Tom Curtis being recognized by legend Benny Oosterbaan]; Order [to achieve precision-running that play over and over in practice]; Succorance [to be loved, guided by their coach-Fritz Seyferth new coach Schembechler loved and cared about him and his players because, this coach remembered what they had told him].
Schembechler also knew that he could, by his practices, place physical and emotional [attention to detail, and discipline] barriers in the way of his players, thereby supporting their needs and as result, either increasing as well as decreasing their tension systems. That way, once their needs were met their satisfaction and goal activity would be enhanced like no other. Just ask Brandstatter, Keller, Curtis, Darden, Betts, McKenzie, and Seyferth about their experience, their self-esteem and their identity with coach. I bet coach Gary Moeller would also agree. Further, ask Jim Harbaugh as well.
The Michigan story goes on. One has to be there to experience it. Just go to the Big House and you’ll know what I mean. Go Blue Go!