As a lifelong University of Michigan football fan, born in the year that would be Glenn Edward “Bo” Schembechler’s first season as Wolverines head coach, I can remember the past 34 seasons of Michigan Wolverines football. The Michigan football program that I grew up with during the 1970s and 80s was one of the toughest programs in the country, bar none.
I don’t have many memories at all of the 1990 season, because by late September, I had deployed with the 1st Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas, for a port-side warehouse in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. After a couple of months in the port city, my boss and I headed out to the desert for what would eventually become the ride of our lives.
That, my friends, is another story all unto itself.
I find it interesting how fans describe their “fanhood” in years, but at what age or in what year does that first, true memory really begin?
For me, that first season would have to be the 1976 campaign. Running back Rob Lytle was All American and quarterback Rick Leach was All Big Ten Conference.
For each of us as “little Wolverines,” watching the game with dad and asking a gazillion questions was how we started out. Due to my father’s line of work, it was not uncommon for my family and I to be out visiting with other folks on a Saturday afternoon, and I would listen to Michigan football on the car radio in the family 1974 Chevrolet Impala.
Among my favorite annual rituals was watching the Rose Bowl with pops. As Bo’s usual fortune would have it, the University of Southern California found a way to win the 1977 contest that concluded the Wolverines’ 1976 10-2 finish and final No. 3 ranking.
I enjoyed tremendously watching the game heroics of quarterback Ricky “The Peach” Leach. What a blast.
I loved to listen to the game on the radio as a boy—listening without Ufer will never be the same—what a joy. The suspense and thrill of listening to the call, sitting on the edge of my seat, and going absolutely crazy when Butch Woolfolk or Leroy Hoard made a great run.
Those were the great days of Michigan football, when they opened the season with Wisconsin, even on occasion when it didn’t go in the Wolverines’ favor.
I can’t stand Notre Dame football, or hockey, or Notre Dame anything athletic for that matter, and all I wanted to see was Michigan kick the living dog snot out of the Fighting Irish every year, year in, and year out. Not just beat them, mind you; I’m talking about merciless beatings with one foot on the opponent’s throat and the other stomping the gas pedal to the floorboard.
The same can be said for the Wolverines whuppin’ up on the Michigan State Spartans and the Ohio State University.
Probably the loss to Notre Dame I despised the most was the September 16, 1989 contest.
As a young, twenty-year-old Cav Trooper, I found myself on the duty roster during the Michigan vs. Notre Dame game, but the good news was that I would be able to watch the game in the greater Killen-Fort Hood metroplex.
The major who was on duty with me was rooting for Notre Dame to win, and he got his wish, as the No. 2 ranked Wolverines lost to the No. 1 ranked Fighting Irish at Michigan Stadium by the final score of 24-19.
That same major a-hole ended up in Leavenworth.
I was flat-out pissed over the Michigan loss to Notre Dame to say the least. I spent a very angry evening “guarding everything within the limits of my post.”
When I deployed for Operation Desert Shield, I took two books with me. Book “A” was The Good Book (KJV Schofield study version). Book “B” was Bo.
I must shamefully admit that I am not a man who is well read. The books that I have actually read from cover to cover a few and far between, and I must say that Bo is the first book I ever read from cover to cover.
Guess I just needed a timeout in the sandbox in order to read!
Following the illustrious 20-year career of Bo Schembechler, it would be men from Bo’s coaching tree who would lead the Wolverines forward: first Gary Moeller, and then Lloyd Carr.
Both of my sons were fortunate to be attendees at Michigan football camp, and it was wonderful to hear both coach Schembechler and coach Carr speak.
Those are my memories of Michigan football.
Unfortunately, I haven’t seen Michigan football in several years.
In fact, the closest thing resembling “Michigan football” is being played in East Lansing, down in Columbus, and out in Iowa. The folks out in Lincoln have a coach named Bo too, and they might like to show the Wolverine faithful a thing or two about “Michigan” football, as Schembechler begat Miles, and Miles begat Pelini.
In either event, Bo knows football.
Whether former athletic director Bill Martin satisfied, maximized, or optimized the selection of Rich Rodriguez as the school’s head football coach at this point is irrelevant. Winning football games, however, is more relevant now than it has ever been in Ann Arbor.
My guess is that David Brandon will not hesitate to pull the trigger on releasing the embattled Wolverines head coach should the team fail to win meaningful games this fall. Not winning in the Big Ten is completely unacceptable, and when lousy calls by the referees are the only thing that helped Michigan beat the Crimson and Cream from Bloomington, you know you’ve got trouble deep, friends.
As has been my paradigm throughout my lifetime, the University of Michigan football team should never lose a football game. I know that to be an unrealistically high standard of excellence, but that’s how I feel. I want the Michigan Wolverines to be the powerhouse football team that knocks the other team off the ball and knocks the daylights out of their ball carriers and receivers.
No slack due, gentlemen; no slack due.
For me, it would be very difficult to continue on with the present coaching administration should the team fail to win eight games during the 2010 Michigan Wolverines football campaign. Fortunately, I’m not charged with making that decision.
Every single Michigan Wolverine football fan from coast to coast and around the globe wants nothing but success for the most storied program in all of college football. I know I do.
Regardless my desire for coach Rodriguez and his staff to find absolute success during the 2010 season, Michigan football is not a program that can be allowed to fall from grace by not winning, plain and simple.
Should the unthinkable happen and the 2010 season ends in ruin, I’m for bringing home the kid from Ann Arbor Pioneer. You know, the guy that Bo told he wouldn’t play a down of Michigan football if he didn’t get his act together.
I think it’s pretty safe to say he got his act together.
Rich Rodriguez will need to do the same to survive another year in Ann Arbor.
Whatever the outcome yields this season, I’m true Blue all the way, and I’m looking forward to sharing some great stories with you this fall.
Wear Maize! Go Blue!