Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Jim Harbaugh, Bo Schembechler versus MSU

After viewing the game, I thought about the number of parallels between the 1969 Michigan Wolverines with new coach Bo Schembechler and currently the 2015, Michigan Wolverines with new coach Jim Harbaugh. Bo Schembechler inherited a team recruited by Bump Elliott, while Jim Harbaugh inherited team recruited by Brady Hoke. Schembechler inherited a team that had an 8-2 record the year before. While Harbaugh’s inherited team had a 5-7 record with a pretty good defense. Schembechler’s 1969 team lost to a ranked Missouri team and lost to the Michigan State Spartans, but finished the season with a terrific upset victory over number one ranked Ohio State. Schembechler’s team finished with an 8-2 record. So far, Harbaugh’s team has lost to a ranked Utah team and to Michigan State University. The Wolverines have the opportunity to upset number one ranked Ohio State on November 28 in Ann Arbor.    .

Back to the present, I wondered what Bo Schembechler might’ve done with his 1969 Wolverines in a similar situation. So I contacted Thom Darden, Schembechler’s first Wolman, All-American and All-Pro; Fritz Seyferth a fullback who scored four touchdowns against the University of Minnesota, played professional football and was an assistant athletic director for Bo; Mike Keller a three-year starter at defensive end, played for the world champion Dallas Cowboys and became the youngest NFL scout; and Jim Betts, played quarterback, and defensive back, drafted by the New York Jets and currently president of Michigan  Football Athletic Network [MFAN] a group of all former Michigan football players for their opinion of what their coach would’ve done. Their full-length profiles can be found in Bo’s Warriors-Bo Schembechler and the Transformation of Michigan Football.

It is true that some can argue it’s all after the fact. It’s also true that these players had outstanding careers along with tremendous admiration and deference for Coach Bo Schembechler. It’s also true that these players personally know, fellow Wolverine head coach Jim Harbaugh. The following were their responses: 1. I would like to believe that Bo would have kept his offense in and have the quarterback run out of the end zone for a safety. Give them the two points, free punt to them and hopefully the game would be over. There is always a risk to snap the ball to a person so far back. In a situation like that with anxiety at a height just take the ball from under center and run out of the end zone! 2. First of all it never would have happened with Bo. He probably would never have kicked. He would put our quickest ball carrier or WR to take the snap and run the clock out. The Spartans never would have gotten their hands on the ball.
There was only 10 seconds left and MSU had no time outs left.3. Bo would have run on 4th down…and made it!  4. Men, you played hard and we came up short, but this is one game and this one play cannot and will not define you or this team. Go home and let's get ready for next opponent. We win as team, we lose as a team.

There you have it, input from these four men who were responsible in large part for Bo Schembechler’s beginning success. These players set the tone and started the avalanche like a snowball, running down becoming larger and larger gaining momentum along the way. It is also true, that these men loved and respected their former coach. They told me they would’ve run through walls for this man, and they did without question.

Go Blue!

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