Friday, November 17, 2006

bo knew best

How is this possible?

Bo Schembechler is dead.

Today.

The day before the biggest college game ever. No, I would say, the biggest football game ever. The biggest game of the biggest rivalry ever in sports.

God help any Buckeye who rejoices in this. I will slaughter you, so help me Jesus.

If I were watching this game in a movie, watching all the events that led up to it, I would reject the coming together of all the elements even before this happened. Michigan and OSU are already the bitterest rivals of any two sports teams (yes, including the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry), but never before have they played each other when ranked as the top two teams nationally. OSU has the best QB in college ball, probably the best QB in their history, while Michigan's defense has given up on average only 30 yards per game, the best record of any team since 1959. Put it this way: this game is so big, the loser gets to go to the Rose Bowl.

But now... now it is a completely different game. Bo Schembechler coached the Wolverines during the most intense ten years of the UM-OSU rivalry, opposite his foul-tempered mentor OSU coach Woody Hayes, proud owner of the number one most unsportsmanlike moment in history. Growing up in Ann Arbor in the 80s meant that you worshipped at the altar of Schembechler. People spoke about him in hushed, reverent tones. He lived for Michigan football and he loved Game Day with Ohio State more than Christmas.

I seethe when Michigan alumni accuse me of not being a "real fan" because I didn't go to Michigan. That is a load of crap. I spent 18 years going to football games, four of them going to school directly across the stadium. I was at the Rose Bowl when Michigan won the 1997 National Championship (along with 20,00 other people from Ann Arbor-- it was very strange; you'd be walking along the pier or down Main Street in Disney World, and hey! there's the Rosenwasser family! and there's Dr. Joyner from the church!). You might call me a townie, fine, but I have years of being a Wolverine fan on most Michigan alums. I chose my own college in part because it didn't have a football program, and I wouldn't have to divide loyalties.

Michigan football is one of the very few things, along with my family and A Prairie Home Companion, that is forever tied to my fondest memories of growing up and that I deeply, affectionately cherish with no irony whatsoever. Bo Schembechler was the greatest coach that Michigan ever had, and more importantly, he was a great man who cared for his players and his community. He was aware of his place in history and took it seriously.

I was already jittery and excited for tomorrow. But now, we're winning it for Bo.

2 comments:

Marina Grace said...

I love A Prairie Home Companion! I have similar memories of listening to the radio show with my parents in the car and at home. :)

I'm not into football, but I'll talk Garrison Keillor any day.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting before. I appreciate it.

Kimberly said...

BO! Oh, I can't believe it. Emily, as you know, we are kindred spirits here. Go Blue forever.