Bo knew football. He also knew how to adapt.
Despite being constantly riled by revisionist history for his conservative playcalling and bad record in bowl games. Bo Schembechler was the most consistently winning coach from 1969 to 1989. He never had a losing season and his teams were almost always in the top 25. But that's just statistics that only tell half the story.
Once after starting the 1980 season 1-2 including a two point loss to Notre Dame and a three point loss to South Carolina, he chewed out his defensive captain. The team responded by not giving up a touchdown in their last five games during a nine game winning streak en route to his first Rose Bowl victory.
After his worst season at Michigan a 6-6 campaign in 1984, he went to a coach's conference in which one of the speakers was a high school coach from California talked about all of his fancy schemes. One coach asked a question about the effectiveness of such schemes, bringing up the fact that this coach's team had given up an average of 300 yards a game. He said, "Well we weren't a good tackling team."
Bo heard this and made the Wolverines go full pads the whole spring and the result was a 10-1-1 record and a No. 2 ranking at the end of the 1985 season. The success was not just due to improved defense, however, but a new passing play he borrowed from Bill Wallsh, the bootleg option, which he ran with Jim Harbaugh, a quarterback with enough arm strength and mobility to make it happen.
Bo's teams always emphasized execution over style points and were sometimes criticized for being boring. But he didn't care about what was interesting he cared about what worked.
Losing bowl games and missing field goals in close games were the reasons why this legend never won it all. It's a shame really, he deserved it.