Schembechler Delivers Strong Message

Former Michigan head coach Bo Schembechler's powerful oratory and skilled speaking highlighted the first program in the Don Nehlen Visiting Lecturer in Coaching series Monday at WVU's Erickson Alumni Center.

Schembechler showed why he was one of the best coaches in the country for three decades. His 13 Big Ten championships and numerous Rose Bowl wins are evidence enough. But the personal connection and wired atmosphere the coach created was enough to make the Blue and Gold want to get cozy with the Maize and Blue.

He mesmerizes and entertains. And when Schembechler wasn't cracking jokes or telling stories he was giving advice to Physical Education/Coaching majors. And his advice, like most greats, transcends time.

"He's not the No. 3 or No. 2 coach in the country," Nehlen said. "He's the No. 1 coach. And when you hear him speak you'll know why. He was the greatest with his players.

"And he knew that a tainted victory wasn't worth a nickel. He did it the right way. He never had an NCAA violation in his career. He's the greatest."

It's no secret Nehlen admired Schembechler's style -- from coaching and offense down to the uniforms -- so much that he tailored WVU's program to Michigan's.

"You know, Don and I were criticized for running the ball too much," Schembechler said. "I heard all that stuff. But it didn't matter. We won."

Schembechler discussed the rigors of college coaching, and gave five keys to winning in football and life in general.

"When I got to Michigan they told me I had to do several things," he said. "Fill the stadium, beat Ohio State, win Big Ten and Rose Bowl titles, graduate all my players. And do it honestly and without violation.

"The admissions office doesn't graduate all the people they bring in, do they?" Schembechler asked WVU President David Hardesty. "No. But we had to. And that's what I tell my players. You have to be better, more moral than the average student. You have to be above that, the best. Because if you are not, it is not local news. Because you are at national programs, like West Virginia or Michigan, it's national news."

Schembechler's formula for winning really isn't one at all. His five keys:

*Attitude-A total commitment from everyone

*Constant Improvement - "You must get better every day. Because if you are not getting better you are getting worse. You never, never stay the same," he said.

*Courage and Discipline - "Great players will not drop passes or become intimidated late in games. They know they cannot do that and win. They know what to do, and they go about doing it."

*Code of Conduct

*Communication - "You must also have loyalty and team, not individual, effort," Schembechler said. "Bear Bryant coached an extra year when he had no desire to because he knew his staf would be fired. He died that same year. I always wondered if that had anything to do with it.

"Me? I just had them name me athletic director so my staff would stay on after I named my predecessor," he joked.

Schembechler spoke on many topics too numerous to mention. But a common theme throughout was bettering oneself, either through a team or work or family, everyday.

"We did something everyday to beat Ohio State," Schembechler said. "And our first year we did. That is what you must do -- something everyday to achieve goals. There really is no substitute for careful planning and hard work."

More on this story can be found in this week's edition of the Blue and Gold News.

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