Monday, January 4, 2016
Jim Harbaugh the Superstar and Bo Schembechler, the Legend
Jim Harbaugh had a fantastic year in returning to his alma mater as their head coach. He inherited, from previous coach Brady Hoyke, a number of good college defensive players. Players that come to mind include the following: Desmond Morgan, linebacker; Joe Bolden, linebacker ;Jared Wilson, safety; Chris Wormley defensive line; Mario Ojemudia , defensive end; Willy Henry, defensive tackle; Ryan Glascow, defensive line; Jabrill Peppers, multi-positions; Jourdan Lewis, defensive back. On offense, a few include the following: De Veon Smith, running back; Drake Johnson, running back; Joe Kerridge, running back; Sione Houma, running back; Jon Runyan, offensive line ; Amara Darboh receiver ; Jake Butt, tight end; Jehu Chesson receiver; Graham Glascow offensive line . Do not forget that Jake Rudock transferred, and was a fifth-year senior from Iowa. Coach Harbaugh assembled quite the staff that included Tim Drevno; Jed Fisch; Jay Harbaugh; John Baxter, Greg Jackson; Tyrone Wheatley; Michael Zordich , Kevin Tolbert and Greg Mattison. This group took a pretty good defense, made it terrific as it gained national attention with three consecutive shutouts. On offense, Michigan turned it around, led by quarterback Jake Rudock and his outstanding receivers Butt, Chesson, Darboh along with running back Smith not forgetting the offensive line. Their overall record was 10 victories and three defeats. They played one miserable half-the second against archrival Ohio State in their 13 games. Their trouncing of Florida on New Year’s Day was sweet. Both offensively and defensively they dominated a pretty good football team. That victory was paramount and foreshadows what lies ahead for Jim Harbaugh’s University of Michigan’s Wolverines. I can’t help comparing what coach Harbaugh did in his first year with Coach Bo Schembechler. Schembechler inherited an outstanding group of athletes from previous coach Bump Elliott. A few of them included Jim Betts, Tom Curtis, Henry Hill, Jim Mandich, Guy Murdoch, Don Moorehead, Brian Healy, Paul Staroba, Marty Huff, Philip Seymour, Cecil Pryor, Richard Caldarazzo and Dan Dierdorf. And a terrific group of sophomores that included Frank Gusich, Thom Darden, Jim Brandstatter , Billy Taylor, Fritz Seyferth , Glenn Doughty, Mike Keller, and Reggie McKenzie. That 1969 team had outstanding coaches put together by coach Schembechler that included Gary Moeller, Jerry Hanlon, Dick Hunter, Louie Lee, Frank Maloney, George Mans, Larry Smith, Chuck Stobart and Jim Young. Many of Schembechler’s players and coaches went on to have tremendous athletic careers in the game, they loved. This terrific team had an overall record of 8-3. Their conference finish was a first-place tie with Ohio State; AP number 9 ranking and UPI 8 ranking. They lost in the Rose Bowl to USC 10- 3. Bo had a heart attack prior to that game, and was hospitalized. With their unbelievable win against Ohio State 24- 12 at the season’s finale, that was the team’s Super Bowl victory. Coach Schembechler with his infamous smile would likely say something like “son of a bitch, Jim, you did a good job.” He can discern that his pupil learned well under his tutelage. He knew that Jim learned about the importance of a stifling defense; solid ground attack; ball control; eliminating mistakes, and running those plays to perfection. He also knew that Jim learned to be in charge of the entire football-academic program and that it was his responsibility to turn these athletes into proud, by changing their thinking, Michigan men that have blue and maize running through their veins – there was more to life than football. Coach Harbaugh learned from the best and is perpetuating those valuable learnings. Which first year coach did the better job in turning around the Wolverine football program? I can argue that both did exceptional and outstanding jobs in their first year. I don’t think statistics give us the answer. If you talk to Bo’s 1969 players, you’ll get a sense of their love, commitment, desire, passion, even now, 45 years later for Bo, their teammates and for the University of Michigan. I would love to talk to Jim’s 2015 team 45 years from now and compare and contrast with the original Bo’s Warriors. Go Blue!