Schembechler Holds Class on UM vs. OSU

Former Michigan head coach Glenn E. "Bo" Schembechler met with the media this morning to talk about this weekend's historic clash between the Wolverines and the Buckeyes of Ohio State. The always fiery and colorful Schembechler reminisced about his days manning the sideline during the rivalry, his thoughts on this year's teams, and much much more.

Opening statement:

"Geez, I haven't been to a press conference like this in a long time. I was thinking about this game with two great undefeated teams playing against each other, and last night we lost Tom Slade, he passed away. Tom was our quarterback in 1971. I don't know whether you recall or not. But we went through the regular season 11-0 and played what I call a great Stanford team in the Rose Bowl and they beat us 13-12 on a last minute field goal. And so there are some things that are more important than this game on Saturday. But nevertheless, as you know, I've hung around here for 15 years since I retired, and I watched every Michigan game. I know something about the Michigan-Ohio State series, because I spent six years at Ohio State. I escaped from Columbus when I got the head coaching job at Miami. But I had a wonderful experience there because I coached for Woody (Hayes) when Woody was really Woody. He was the most irascible guy that ever lived, and the worst guy in the world to work for. But I wouldn't change that experience for anything in the world because it was I learned a lot. And we won a few games here and there. I'll never forget the time that we beat Michigan up here, 50 to something. I believe it was 1961. We had an alumni dinner in Cleveland, and when we went to the dinner, they called Woody out to tell him that the faculty had voted that Ohio State would not go to the Rose Bowl. And that was something else. And so Woody said, get your coat. So I got my coat. Now, this banquet is packed, because we had a great year and beat Michigan and all that. And we started walking through the streets of Cleveland until it was nine o'clock, I guess. We talked some and walked in silence, some. When we got back to the hotel, Woody went to the podium and gave one of the great speeches you ever heard. It took him that long to walk around there to be able to go up there and say that the faculty has a right to their opinion. And how dastardly wrong it is, that's their job. And it was all a political thing. Nobody took into consideration the players and the people that had worked hard to go through an undefeated season, because that's a very difficult thing to do. I'll never forget that part of the Michigan Ohio State series. Of course when I came here, the great win for us in '69, and I'll never forget when Woody said at the dinner we had for him after he retired, and when he looked down at the podium at me and said, "God damn you, you will never win a bigger game than that." And he was right. I don't think I ever did.

"This is something special. I went back and checked. We never went we went into this game both of us undefeated I think some times, but we never went in ranked No. 1 and 2 in the nation. This is a first. That's pretty clear cut that everybody feels that these are the two best teams in the nation. And I would say that I don't think there will be a football game played this year with so many gifted athletes, so many good football players on the field. And so, when you ask, 'What's it going to look like?' I'll tell you, anything can happen. But the great players that are in the game have got to make great plays, and if they make great plays, then the other guys in there have got to play the best they can play. Even though they may not be the superstars that you all are going to write about, there will be some nondescript right guard down here who will have to make a lot of great plays in there for that team to win. I'm as excited as you are about this game, because I love to see Ohio State and Michigan come down to the end and let's play it. Now, if you look at the teams, they are not similar, but they are similar. I mean, there are receivers on both sides, there's runners on both sides, there's a quarterback on both sides. But the key to it probably will be the defense. Because up until late in my career, there were never games that were high scoring games. The defenses always dominated in this game. But the last few years that I [coached], there were five or six touchdowns scored, so that kind of changed. And I think it's more difficult to hold teams to low scores nowadays than there was back when I coached. But I see this game as being a great classic and I hope the weather's nice. And I hope the people behave on both sides, because sometimes we get too emotional about this game and we should not do that. And may the best team win. And so with that, I'll take any questions you may have. You probably have some things you want to ask me, I'd be happy to answer."

On if he thinks a Michigan vs OSU rematch in the national title game is possible:

"I think that's unlikely. I think that's very unlikely. I think if it's a great classic game, and everybody looks at it and said, wow, those two teams are really good. Well, one of them's going to go to the winner is going to go to Arizona to play for the national championship, and obviously, knowing the Rose Bowl people as I do, they would choose the loser to play in the Rose Bowl. And if that happens, there's great reward for both teams for a great season.But imagine back when I coached, if we played unbeaten, we tied, if we lost to Ohio State, if we lost we went nowhere. We went back and licked our wounds because we had antiquated leadership in the Big Ten Conference, and it wasn't until 1973 that they literally screwed us out of the Rose Bowl. And I mean it just exactly the way I said it that they changed. And we were the first recipient of that. We went to the Orange Bowl, and who did we play? The national champion Oklahoma team. But that was great. We enjoyed it."

On what kind of man Tom Slade was:

"He was a flawless guy personally. Good, honest Christian man. He was a good leader. As a quarterback, he will always get you into the right play. He was a skilled option runner. He was a tough guy. I put in a power sweep in which he tossed the ball in the tailback and then he ran out there and ran around the end there and knocked the safety down. And he did that time and time again. He was not a great passer and we never we never presented him as that. But that offense gained, you have to check it, but 450 yards, and held the opponents to under a hundred. So he was a quarterback of a great team, a great team. We just recently had a reunion of those guys. We've lost several of those guys that passed away. And now Tom is gone. We'll miss him because he's a good guy. He was my dentist. He was a dentist here in the area, and of course, I wouldn't go to any other dentist other than one that played for me."

On if Carr has to beat Tressel to keep people from saying that Tressel has his number:

"I don't give a damn about Tressel and Lloyd having to beat this guy or that guy. That's hogwash. Go back through the history of the Michigan-Ohio State series. There's always been series where one would win two, three, I don't know whether it ever went to four, but they would win two, three in a row. That's just the way it is. I think we should go back and look at Lloyd's record. I don't care whether he beats (Jim) Tressel or not. He's done a marvelous job here, and here we are at 11-0. Our team from this year to last year is night and day. I mean, this is a proud, confident team. Of course, the thing that I like about it is they can play defense. You get up front and you want to go nose to nose there, there are not many guys that are going to knock them around, I can tell you that right now."

On if he believes there should be a rematch between these two teams for the national title:

"I swear to you, I don't even think of that. I don't think of it as a possibility at all. They are not going to do that. Of course it's not fair. Once you beat a team, it's over. If you're a loser, of course you want to play those guys again. But I would not be in favor of that under any circumstances."

On how much he often he prepared for the Ohio State game:

"Every day! It was our strategy here at Michigan to do something to beat Ohio State every day! And even if it's in the first meeting to talk about it. But we're going to do something every day. So that's nothing new."

On if he believes Ohio State has over-looked Michigan until this week:

"No. It was very similar towards the end there playing the other Big Ten teams, that frankly, could not measure up to these two. So they had an opportunity to work on other things they may use against the opponent."

On if he will speak with the team this week:

"I don't anticipate that. You have to understand, these kids that are playing are three years old when I coached, so I don't think they remember much about what I did. Although they practice in a building with my name on it, and I hang around there, I get to know some of these guys. I know a lot of players, but I don't think that will happen. They can handle that themselves."

On the 1973 game and if it was one of the biggest disappointments:

"Biggest? It was the greatest disappointment of my career. We were both undefeated. We came in undefeated and we were playing here, and we missed a field goal at the end and we end up tied. It was a 10-10 tie. Everybody including Woody Hayes congratulated me after the game and said, oh, you'll do a great job in the Rose Bowl and all that. And everybody expected Michigan to go to the Rose Bowl, because if you look at the game, we outplayed them. If you look at tradition, Ohio State had played in the Rose Bowl the year before, and we used to have a no repeat rule where you couldn't repeat. So everything indicated that we were going to go to the Rose Bowl. And it was strictly a political thing. And I assume the fact that our great quarterback, Dennis Franklin, broke his collarbone in the fourth quarter of that game on a blitz, that they might have used that as an excuse. And so that whole thing upset me to no end. After that, I think that team, that 1973 team is the reason that we're playing in other bowls today."

On how his health is:

"Good. Feeling good now. I've got that big mechanism in me now."

On if he will attend the game:

"It's too hard for me to walk. I don't know where I would end up, even if they escorted me right to the press box, I'd have to go up steps and do all that. It's just too too big a hassle for me now."

On if he believes the game is bigger in Columbus or Ann Arbor:

"No, it's not any bigger I don't think. We might react differently than they do. But no, I don't think so. I think this game is as big for them as it is for us."

On if this Michigan - Ohio State game is bigger than any of the games he coached:

"Is this one? I think this is about as big as it gets. I don't know what else you can do. Two teams that have been dominant all year long, and let's face it, you've all been around here. And I don't know whether you've been other places. You know, I've traveled around a little bit. There's no I don't care who it is -- there's no rivalry that compares with this. This is the greatest college football rivalry there is. I don't see that changing. I mean, I think it's going to continue to be exactly that way."

On why this rivalry is so great:

"Why is this one? Historically, if you go back, we play in the last game of the year against these guys. If you total up the Big Ten Championships, it's usually one or the other. It goes way, way back, you know, long before any of us to Fielding Yost and Francis Schmidt and all of those guys back at Ohio State. I know them on both ends because I knew who they were and everything. I just don't see one any bigger than this."

On what this game does to a relationship between two coaches:

"Well, that was an interesting relationship. Now, see, I was one of his guys, you understand that, and I played on the Miami team that he will admittedly say, that's the ballclub that sent me to Ohio State. Because when they were looking for a coach, we had just had a great season. We went to the what was that bowl called, it was a prelude to the Fiesta Bowl. The Salad Bowl. We went to the Salad Bowl and we beat Arizona State. So when we came back, Woody eventually got the job at Ohio State. When he left, he asked me to go along as a graduate assistant. I believe it was the first one Ohio State ever had. They had never had one. Now, what did that mean? It meant I had to take so many hours of graduate work and I had to make the coffee in the morning and pick up the prospects at the airport and run all the errands, and I did that a year before I went in the service. When I came back, I bounced around until I ended up at Northwestern and Woody asked me to come back when Bill went to Ohio, so I went back, and I spent five years there as an assistant and I, in spite of everything, I enjoyed it. We had many good teams and we had some bad teams. It was Ohio State football and it was good. But I'll never forget how tough that guy was. I was sitting there as a graduate assistant, 21 years old, and after the Michigan game, we lost to Michigan that year, 7-0. And we went back home, and Woody called a meeting at his house. We're all sitting there in his house and he's got the projector. Now, you understand back in those days, we're talking 16-millimeter film. And he has this projector on there and he's running it back and forth, and he finally all of a sudden, I'm sitting in the back of the room staying out of the way and he's getting madder and madder. And suddenly, he picked up that projector and threw it. And he said, 'I won't subject the people of Columbus to football like that.' I'll never forget him saying that."

On how he feels about Ohio State now:

"Well, if you go back, I have a lot of friends there. I coached there for six years. There are guys there that are really close friends of mine. I never brought it up when I coached, but I have close ties at Ohio State. Unfortunately I even have a graduate degree from there. They made me go to school while I was a graduate assistant. No, I have enormous, enormous respect for Ohio State, enormous. That's why I loved to play them when I was up there. There's no other team I would rather play, no other coach I would rather go against than the old man."

On if he has seen another player play as well as Troy Smith in back-to-back Michigan - OSU games:

"Not that I know of. I have not seen a guy play so well in back to back Ohio State-Michigan games, because we slowed down Archie Griffin, I think the second time we played him. But Archie had come the closest to doing something like that."

On his predictions for the game:

"I don't make any predictions, none at all. I'll just tell you one thing, it will be a whale of a battle. Unless I miss my guess, it will be a heck of a battle."

Stay tuned to GoBlueWolverine for video of Schembechler's presser, which is set to publish later in the week.


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