Schembechler, Bo 1929-2006

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Schembechler, Bo 1929-2006

(Glenn Edward Schembechler, Jr.)

OBITUARY NOTICE— See index for CA sketch: Born April 1, 1929, in Barberton, OH; died of heart failure, November 17, 2006, in Southfield, MI. Coach and author. Schembechler will long be remembered for his impressive winning record as football coach for the University of Michigan Wolverines from 1969 until 1990. Graduating from Ohio’s Miami University in 1951, he was an assistant under Ohio State coach Woody Hayes in 1952 as Schembechler studied for his master’s degree. Completing his graduate work in 1952, he served in the U.S. Army for a year and then coached football and baseball at Presbyterian College in South Carolina. Returning to the Midwest, he was an assistant football coach at Bowling Green for a year and then at Northwestern for the next season. Hayes hired Schembechler to be his assistant again in 1958, and then he accepted a job as head coach at Miami University in 1963. All of this, however, was preamble to the highlight of his career as head coach of the University of Michigan. Hired in 1969, Schembechler was put in charge of a Wolverine team with only a mediocre record. That year, he turned the team around completely, coaching a winning 7-2 season and beating arch rivals Ohio State 24-12 to win the Big Ten championship. Although he would never win a national championship, that fact never bothered Schembechler, who was more interested in the Big Ten, defeating Ohio State, and going to the Rose Bowl. His overall record against the Buckeyes would be 5-4-1, and his coaching years at Michigan ended with a 194-48-5 record, the best of any coach in the university’s history. He also won or tied thirteen Big Ten championships, though he only had a 2-8 record at the Rose Bowl. Chronic heart problems over the years encouraged Schembechler to retire as head coach in 1990 after also spending two years as athletic director. He remained active in sports, however, as president and chief executive officer of the Detroit Tigers. Baseball and Schembechler were not well suited to each other, and the former football coach drew harsh criticism when he fired beloved Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell in 1990. Harwell was rehired in 1992, and Schembechler was fired in turn. He continued to work in sports as a football commentator. Ironically, Schembechler died the day before his favorite football game was to be played: the annual meeting between Ohio State and the Wolverines. The coach related his life experiences in two books:Bo (1989), written with sports columnist Mitch Albom, and Michigan Memories: Inside Bo Schembechler’s Football Scrapbook (1998), written with Dan Ewald.



Schembechler, Bo, and Mitch Albom, Bo, Warner (New York, NY), 1989.

Schembechler, Bo, and Dan Ewald, Michigan Memories: Inside Bo Schembechler’s Football Scrapbook, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 1998.


Chicago Tribune, November 18, 2006, Section 1, pp. 1-2.

Los Angeles Times, November 18, 2006, p. B12.

New York Times, November 18, 2006, p. B9; November 22, 2006, p. A2.

Washington Post, November 18, 2006, p. B6.