Bo Schembechler Talks About "THE" Rivalry

Former Michigan Coach Bo Schembechler graced the media with his presence yesterday and gave his perspective on the rivalry, Woody Hayes, this year's team, Coach Carr, and more!

On whether the rivalry has changed any in his mind:

“It hasn’t changed at all. This is the 14th game that I haven’t been a part of, and I can tell you that during those seasons I have followed Michigan very closely. I have followed Ohio State as well because that is the way I did it when I coached. I always wanted to know what they were doing. So if you ask me a question about Ohio State, I know quite a bit about their team. It’s not like I casually watch them like I do the other teams. I watch them closely.”

On the flack OSU catches regarding their offense:

“Well, I think it was like some of the teams that I was involved in, where there wasn’t a lot of scoring. It was a defensive battle. I was on the treadmill yesterday and they were playing the 74 game, and we missed the damned field goal! I mean we played a hell of a game, and so did they. We got the ball late in the game and knocked it right down there to win the game and missed the field goal. I hope this doesn’t come down to a field goal, because I feel that Ohio State has an advantage in their kicking game.”

On whether the kick in question really wasn’t good:

“No, it was good. It was good if it was kicked here (laughing), but it was kicked down in Columbus…so there it wasn’t good.”

On the Big Ten title being on the line in this game:

“Oh I think this is great. I think it is like the 70s. Isn’t that what we all anticipated…that it would come down to this? Both teams are pretty well endowed. So you sort of expected that it would be for all the marbles. So, it’s great.”

On whether he wanted his team more loose or fired up going into the game:

“I don’t ever want to go in with the team loose! I wanna’ go in with them fired up! I remember in 1969 when they told me that our team was going to get too high early in the week. I said no, lets just let them get high because I don’t think they can get too high. These are programs that have been in big games. They know how to be emotional, play hard, and still know what they are doing. They are not going to get a lot of penalties and things like that. I think the emotional aspect always balances out.”

More on the rivalry:

“I think Ohio State winning the last two games put a little fuel on the fire. I think it’s always a great rivalry. You have to understand that I’ve been on both ends of it. For 6 years I came up here on the Ohio State sideline trying to beat Michigan. So I know what it is on both sides. I don’t think it makes any difference who’s coaching or what the situation is. You people (the media) make it a lot more emotional when everything is hanging in the balance. That’s probably the way it should be. That makes for great football game.”

On why Ohio State is still a bigger rivalry than Michigan State:

“Well Michigan State is a big rivalry. Make no mistake about that. I think the one thing about it is that we have had a little bit more success with Michigan State than with Ohio State. The Ohio State/Michigan series over the last 30-40 years has been about even. That is not true with Michigan State. The last 35 years we’ve played Michigan State, we’ve beaten them 26. If we would have done that to Ohio State, that would have been wonderful! (lauging) That may have a cooled the rivalry a little bit. The Michigan/Ohio State rivalry is 50/50 and that’s the way it should be.”

On whether losing the prior two games is a factor:

“Yes, I think they remember that. Back when I coached, I think the team that won the year before had a hard time repeating because the other team didn’t come out happy. “

By Rick Stewart, Getty Images

On his fondest memories from the rivalry:

“The 1969 game has always been a great remembrance because that was Woody’s greatest team. He admitted that. And we beat him here. It was my first year here and I was just trying to establish myself as a coach. I know for a fact Woody was kind of surprised when I was named as coach here. Whether people realize it or not, that was going to add something to the rivalry. I think the fact that we were able to win that game really set the tone for my program. That will always be in the back of my mind. Otherwise every other game I’ve been involved with, has always been close. There was never any big blowout. They’ve always been very intense. But I probably enjoyed the 10 years with Woody more than any of the other games I played against Ohio State.”

On why Woody was surprised he got the Michigan job:

“Well I don’t think that he anticipated someone that knew so much about him and his football was suddenly going to be on the other side, especially at Michigan. Things were just sort of going his way in this rivalry. When I came here I was set to beat only one team. I only wanted Ohio State! I wanted Michigan to beat those other guys, but Ohio State was different. I talked about it all the time. I did something EVERY DAY to beat Ohio State and Woody Hayes! That was the greatest challenge in my coaching…to beat him. If that added fuel to the fire, so be it. That is the way that I approached it.”

On if the game with Ohio State consumed him:

“Well coaching consumed me, but the team that I pointed to the most was Ohio State.”

On if this game exerts the most pressure on the coach:

“Yeah, this is the pressure game. This is the big one. Just like at Ohio State. They always know the coaching record against Michigan. Here we always know the coaching record against Ohio State. That’s the way it is, and that’s what makes it such a beautiful rivalry. I don’t know that there is another rivalry in the country that is as intense and as great as this one.”

On whether this game defines every Michigan coach and player:

I think so. You ask them how many times they’ve beat Ohio State. If you want to be recognized down here as a coach or a player, you beat Ohio State. That’s what you are here for! I’m sure that is exactly what they say down there. Tressel was brought up in Ohio. He knows exactly what that is all about. It’s just like in recruiting…in the Midwest here, particularly in Michigan and Ohio, when you go in and talk to a prospect you either want to play with us against them, or with them against us. That’s it. Now that’s changed a lot because there are a lot of other good teams out there. In our league today, Ohio State beating Purdue is a great accomplishment. That was a wonderful Purdue team. We got the better or them here real quick, but that doesn’t mean that they are not an outstanding team. So there are a lot of good teams in the Big Ten…maybe more than there were back then when Woody and I were coaching. But if this isn’t a great rivalry, why the hell are you all sticking around here to listen to me?! (laughter) I haven’t coached in 14 years! And you all still come around to see what I have to say about the Michigan/Ohio State rivalry. (laughter)

On this year’s Michigan team:

“It’s a talented football team. They’ve done a lot of good things. I was very disappointed earlier in the year when they let the kicking game beat them twice. I would say going into this game, one area of their football that I would be concerned about would be the kicking game. Ohio State has a great kicking game…and they are smart enough to play defense, have that kicking game, and play field position like in the old days. They try to run, but they are not a good running team. They’re not a good passing team. They’re just a team with a great defense, and a great kicking game. “

“I like everything about our team except what they did early in the kicking game. That was very upsetting to everybody that we couldn’t do a better job in every phase of the kicking game. I’m sure there is going to be a lot of emphasis on that now because when you play a game like we are going to play Saturday, you can almost rest assured that these two teams are evenly matched. Mistakes are going to determine who is going to win it. I can tell you back then when I played against Woody, there were very few mistakes made on either side because neither one of us wanted to make a mistake. We both had good defenses and both could kick the ball. We both could run it pretty well. I would say turnovers, missed assignments, botched plays, and missed tackles will determine who wins. The kicking game will be very very instrumental. “

On the significance of the 100th game:

“When you play the same team 100 times over 100 years, it’s a traditional game. The 100th game to the players probably doesn’t mean too much. But to you people and all the fans of both teams, it means a lot. We have historically played this game as the last game of the season. These are the two most dominant teams in the Big Ten Conference. The Big Ten Conference, whether you like it or not, and whether it’s true today or not, has always been looked at as the premiere conference in college football. Now here you have the two best teams and they play, fight, and win a lot of championships. It’s an absolute natural. There are a lot of people that say Auburn vs. Alabama is. No longer is it USC vs. UCLA because one team in the rivalry because one team in the rivalry has always hit the skids for a few years. That hasn’t really happened here. Both of these teams pretty much don’t have losing seasons. There isn’t a lot of that going on. Every time they play, one team can beat the other. I don’t care if one team had a better year than the other did. It doesn’t matter…anything can happen. It’s always been that kind of game, so it’s probably caught the eye of the nation.”

On former players coming back to Ann Arbor:

“That’s what college football is all about. I didn’t recruit the 1969 guys. That team has always been a very special one to me and I have been special to them because I put them through a lot of hell! I wanted to establish a tough program. I didn’t want to hear any more of that whispering out there that Michigan was talented and not tough! That never happened again! I wasn’t going to let! So I put them through a lot of hell. Those that stayed won the championship. The Dierdorfs’, the Mandichs’, the Caldrazzos’, the Craws …the guys like that that were here and that were recruited by the other staff, finally accepted my type of coaching. Then we won the biggest game that we possibly could win. That really brought us together so we are still close. It would be nice if that kind of relationship between coach and player could go on everywhere. There isn’t an Ohio State player that can’t go into their coaching offices and talk to their coaches. They will never be chased out of there because once you play at a program like that, you are there forever. We have the same thing here. These guys know they are welcome here any time they want to come back. There will be 1000 of them back here for this game. They will come from all over the country for this game. The magnitude of it just brings them all back. They will all be here. You will see more ex-Michigan football players here than you have at any other game, that I can recall. That’s what college football is all about, that is what you try to foster. We have it here. It helps that I’m around. Once football season is over, I’m history. But I do come here for the football season and I enjoy it tremendously. I try to not be in the way. And fortunately, Lloyd Carr was one of my guys. We have a very close relationship and it doesn’t bother him at all that I’m around. As a matter of fact, I kinda think he likes it! (laughing).

On Lloyd Carr:

“He’s a pretty up-tight guy (laughter). He knows how to do it. He knows how to handle players. He’s very good at that. So I have no doubt that he will have the team ready.”

On if he thinks Lloyd enjoys the pressure of the Michigan/Ohio State game:

“I don’t know. I enjoyed it a lot with Woody. He was doing his thing, and I was doing mine. I kind of miss the old guy. It would have been nice if he was here today to talk to all of you. Although, when he talked to you about what happened when we played, it wouldn’t sound anything like what I would say happened when we played.(laughing) He always had a different slant on what happened in the game than what I did.”

By Rick Stewart, Getty Images

On the purpose of some of Hayes’ antics:

“I knew him like a book! He stood out there and chased Jerry Markbride up and down the field because he knew the game was over. He was setting the stage for the next year! I knew him like a book! He was out there on our hash mark. His glasses were fogged up and he couldn’t see. He was looking over at me while he was chasing Markbride, and I am saying ‘you son of a gun, he is going to go back to Columbus and tell them he got screwed out of the game so they wouldn’t think so badly of him.’ He did have a good year, but that was not a good Ohio State team. Nobody could do it like him!”

On if he planned to be the coach of the Buckeyes after Hayes:

“Yeah, that was my goal in life…to replace Woody Hayes. Absolutely! I went down to Miami (OH), and Dick Larkins told me you better win down there if you go. Woody came up to me and told me I would be foolish to go because I was going to be the next coach of Ohio State. So I asked him how much longer are you going to coach? He said, ‘oh about 4 or 5 years.’ After I went to Miami, he coached for another 17 years, so
I don’t think he was really truthful with me there! (laughter)”

On if he ever ran a player as many times as Perry did versus MSU:

“No. I never ran anyone 50 times. I ran them 40. (laughter)”

On if he talks football with Coach Carr during the season:

“If he comes down to talk football, we talk. I don’t go up there. I will joke around with the guys. Like after Perry ran 51 times against Michigan State, I opened the door to the meeting room and said ‘what the hell happened to our passing attack?’ (laughter)”

On his reaction to Harbaugh’s guarantee of victory versus the Buckeyes:

“Well that is not something that you like to see a kid do. But if you ask our players,… when we met, I said to Harbaugh, ‘keep your mouth shut from now on. But we will have to back you up on this.’”

On Harbaugh possibly becoming the next head coach at EMU:

“Jim has always wanted to coach. I think he would be excellent. What I can tell you about Jim is, most guys that have had long professional careers like he has…people think they can’t coach, recruit and do all the things that everyone else does. Jim knows what he has to do and that wouldn’t bother him one bit. Jim is not a big ego guy. He would make an excellent football coach.”

On John Kolesar’s big plays versus OSU:

“We were out of that game and Kolesar brought the kickoff back and got it in the end zone for a touchdown. He covered the whole football field by himself. Kolesar was a highly underrated player. But the biggest play he made against Ohio State was when they scored on us to close the gap…I’m not sure what year, but Harbaugh was the quarterback. He lined up on White who played corner down here for the Detroit Lions. We went with a play-action fake and they came with a strong safety blitz that we did not pick up. This guy is coming down on Jim a mile a minute. He knocked the day-lights out of Harbaugh, but he stood in there, looked at it, put it in the air, and Kolesar ran by and caught it for like a 70 yard play. That took the starch out of them because they had just scored.”

On what a win in this game would mean for John Navarre:

“It would be big for him. Let me tell you something… it would be very hard for any Michigan team to take 3 straight losses to Ohio State. That would be hard to take. But I don’t think that is any secret, especially since we are playing here at home. There is a lot of motivation. We just have to get it done. It will be a good game. “

On if he would have felt any heat for losing three straight to OSU:

The only thing that they bitched about here with me is that I didn’t pass enough. I don’t think they ever wanted to fire me, did they? (laughter) If they did, I didn’t listen.

On if Coach Carr will be in trouble if he loses a third straight:

“You might, or some of the other people here might. But Lloyd Carr is as secure as any football coach in America, no matter what happens in this game! Anybody that has issue with that will have to go through me, because we are not going to fire Lloyd Carr. I’m not going to let that happen. Not that I can do anything about it. (laughter) I still throw a little bit of weight around here.”

On if Coach Carr is under appreciated:

“No I don’t think he is under appreciated. I think they enjoy him a lot. The nice thing about it is, this is his football team now. Their offense is not my offense. Their defense is not my defense. Nothing of this team is mine, nothing. The only thing he does that is mine are some of the organizational things that he does that we did when I coached. But the football is entirely different.”

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