Friday, November 17, 2006

'Bye Bo!

When I received news that Michael O. Kenney, Director of Planned Giving for the University of Notre Dame, had obtained two 50-yard tickets for me to the Irish-Army game, I figured that would be the biggest sports news of the day - but how wrong I was. For on the eve of his former team playing one of the biggest games in its illustrious history, Glenn "Bo" E. Schembechler passed away at the age of 77.

"I'm a miracle," Bo had recently declared after another heart procedure, and considering his heart condition (and stressful occupation), one would have to agree. Bo was Michigan's winningest coach ever with a Big Blue record of 194-48-5. Bo suffered his first heart attack in 1970 in his second year as Michigan head coach but went on to coach there twenty years, bringing Michigan thirteen Big Ten titles in the process.

"I'm as excited as you are about the game," Bo said just days ago about Saturday's clash between Michigan and its biggest rival Ohio State. Bo actually coached as an assistant of Ohio State (under its legendary head coach Woody Hayes), making his first big Michigan victory over his old mentor and the then undefeated and #1 ranked Buckeyes in 1969, all the more sweet.

A strong Christian family man, it remains to be seen what affect his death will have on the game, although it will certainly be an emotional one. Lloyd Carr, current Michigan head coach and an assistant under Bo, had Schembechler speak to the team on Thursday - less than a day before his death. Carr himself was too distraught to speak to the media today, but I have to say that (despite the bitter rivalry between the Irish and the Wolverines), for one day day I too am a fan of Big Blue. While Protestants rarely ask for the prayers of the saints, I'm sending the intercession of all Friday's heroes in heaven (Butler lists an astounding fourteen saints or blesseds for November 17, everyone from St. Elizabeth of Hungary to St. Gregory the Wonderworker) the Wolverines' way, as well as Saturday's saints too as long as the Irish don't need them. In fact, many pundits believe a crushing Michigan victory would actually benefit Notre Dame (if ND beats SC), putting the Irish into the national title game with a chance to avenge their one loss (to Michigan of course!) of the season. But that talk can wait. Today we say, so long Bo! May your spirit inspire your team and may you (for the first time) relax as you watch the game!

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