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Published: Saturday, 11/18/2006

Revered UM ex-coach dies on eve of big game

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Bo Schembechler comments on the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry earlier this week. It was his last media appearance. Bo Schembechler comments on the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry earlier this week. It was his last media appearance.
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ANN ARBOR Glenn Edward Bo Schembechler, a legendary football coach at the University of Michigan, died yesterday on the eve of the 103rd renewal of the Wolverines rivalry with Ohio State that was so much a part of his life.

Mr. Schembechler, 77, who coached Michigan from 1969 to 1989 and won 13 Big Ten championships with the Wolverines, collapsed at the taping of a television show yesterday morning at WXYZ-TV in the Detroit suburb of Southfield.

He was transported by ambulance to Providence Hospital and pronounced dead shortly before noon. His death at 11:42 a.m. was confirmed by Mike Dowd, chief investigator for the medical examiner s office in Oakland County.

Police were sent to the TV station about 9:25 a.m. along with the city s fire department and escorted the ambulance, Southfield police spokesman John Harris said.

The electrical part of the heart was working fine but the mechanical part was not working, said Dr. Shukri David, the head of cardiology at Providence Hospital. The heart was sending signals to the heart muscle to contract. The muscle was not responding.

Mr. Schembechler had a history of heart problems dating to a heart attck in 1970. He had a cardiac episode a month ago during another taping of his weekly show, and had a device implanted in his chest to regulate his heart beat.

He was a giant of a coach and a giant of a man, Michigan athletic director Bill Martin said at a news conference at the hospital. University President Mary Sue Coleman called the death a tremendous shock and an irreplaceable loss for the school.

Ohio State will observe a moment of silence for Mr. Schembechler before the start of today s game.

Michigan coach Lloyd Carr, a protege of Mr. Schembechler, declined to speak with the media when he arrived with his team at Ohio Stadium yesterday. The Wolverines went through a quiet 25-minute practice in preparation for today s game.

Mr. Schembechler was born April 1, 1929, in Barberton, Ohio, near Akron. He received his nickname Bo when he was young as his sisters tried to say the word brother. He attended Miami (Ohio) University and played football there as an offensive lineman under Sid Gillman, who was known as an offensive innovator and one of the founders of the modern passing game.

Mr. Schembechler finished his playing days at Miami under Woody Hayes, who would be intricately connected to Mr. Schembechler throughout his long career.

Mr. Hayes was the philosophical polar opposite of Mr. Gillman, preferring meticulously rehearsed running plays, and during his career as a coach, Mr. Schembechler s Michigan teams used an approach very similar to those of Mr. Hayes, who went on to write his legend as head coach at Ohio State.

Mr. Schembechler graduated from Miami in 1951 and then earned a master s degree from Ohio State University in 1952 while working as a graduate assistant under Mr. Hayes, who had left Miami to coach the Buckeyes.

Following a stint in the Army, Mr. Schembechler was an assistant coach at Presbyterian College for one season, and then served as the freshman coach under Doyt Perry at Bowling Green State University in 1955. Mr. Schembechler then went to work as a defensive assistant at Northwestern, serving under Ara Parseghian, a former teammate of his at Miami.

In 1958, Mr. Hayes hired Mr. Schembechler to work on his staff at Ohio State. He spent five years there and became one of Mr. Hayes closest confidants as they developed a lasting friendship.

Mr. Schembechler returned to Miami in 1963 as head coach and led the Redskins to a 40-17-3 record over the next six years, winning two Mid-American Conference championships. He became Michigan s 13th head coach when he replaced Bump Elliott following the 1968 season.

It was at Michigan that Mr. Schembechler became one of the greats in college football history. He won 194 games with the Wolverines, lost just 48, with five ties winning 80 percent of his games.

Mr. Schembechler was even better in Big Ten Conference games, posting a record of 143-24-3. His Wolverine teams won or shared the Big Ten championship 13 times and played in the Rose Bowl 10 times.

Michigan played in 17 bowl games in 21 seasons under Mr. Schembechler, but he will likely be best remembered for his battles with Mr. Hayes Ohio State teams.

Mr. Schembechler s 7-2 Michigan team stunned unbeaten, No. 1-ranked Ohio State 24-12 in 1969, and Mr. Schembechler considered that his greatest victory as a coach.

Mr. Schembechler is generally recognized for returning Michigan to a position of prominence in college football, and along with Mr. Hayes turning the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry into perhaps the greatest in sports. Mr. Schembechler held a 5-4-1 edge in his battles with Mr. Hayes, and maintained a friendship with Mr. Hayes until the former Buckeyes coach died March 12, 1987.

Mr. Schembechler served as athletic director at Michigan from 1988 to 1990, and then as president of the Detroit Tigers professional baseball team.

Following his departure from the Tigers, Mr. Schembechler maintained an office at Michigan s football facility, known as Schembechler Hall. Mr. Carr, one of Mr. Schembechler s former assistants, kept him close to the program, and earlier this week Mr. Schembechler spoke to the press about the significance of the rivalry with Ohio State.

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel released a statement yesterday afternoon, commenting on the passing of Mr. Schembechler.

This is an extraordinary loss for college football, Mr. Tressel said. Bo Schembechler touched the lives of many people and made the game of football better in every way. He will always be both a Buckeye and a Wolverine, and our thoughts are with all who grieve his loss.

Mr. Schembechler worked briefly as a football broadcaster for ABC Sports, and was in demand as a motivational speaker for a number of years.

He was inducted into the Miami Hall of Fame in 1972, the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 1989, the University of Michigan Hall of Honor in 1992, the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1993, and the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame in 1993.

Mr. Schembechler and his second wife, Millie, had one son, Glenn III. He married his third wife, Cathy, in 1993.

The Associated Press contributed to his story.

Contact Matt Markey at:mmarkey@theblade.comor 419-724-6510.



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