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|Someday Bo Schembechler's grandson will know of his grandfather and his rivalry with Woody Hayes.|
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- When Bo Schembechler is old enough, he'll learn the stories of Bo Schembechler.
But right now, the 4-year-old is more interested in other topics.
Like Candy Land. He wants to learn how to play Candy Land. Mostly, he wants to know why there isn't a purple game piece because purple is his favorite color.
He wants to perfect his cartwheel. He practices on the rug in the family room and at his gymnastics class twice a week, but it's not quite there yet. And he wants to jump on the trampoline. In his socks. In 20 degree weather.
Because that's what a 4-year-old does. That's what a 4-year-old likes. Even when he is the grandson of one of college football's greatest coaching legends, that's how he is.
Eventually, his father will tell him of his grandfather Bo, and of Woody Hayes, of The Game, of who he is and where he comes from.
But right now, Bo Schembechler just wants to play Candy Land.
To really understand how 4-year-old Bo will be raised, it's necessary to understand how his grandfather, Glenn Edward "Bo" Schembechler Jr., was raised.
|Bo Schembechler passed down his physical traits as well as his character to his son.|
He was born in Barberton, Ohio, six months before the stock market crashed in 1929.
His father, Glenn Edward Sr., worked two jobs -- one as a firefighter and the other as an electrician. But when another firefighter was promoted to chief after cheating on the same exam he had studied for, he left the firehouse.
Honesty and hard work were crucial, and he refused to let his children see him work for someone who had cheated his way to the top.
It was a lesson that stuck with the boy who would become coach Schembechler. He expected that same mentality out of his players and out of his son, Glenn Edward III, better known as "Shemy."
It's what Shemy will expect out of his son, too. There are traits passed down through the Schembechlers -- the eyes or the hair. But it's the character that's the more important part.
"I see my dad in him," Shemy said.
He also sees himself. How Shemy is with Bo, that's how Bo was with Shemy when he was a kid.
Shemy sits on his couch in his Columbus, Ohio, home. His is one of the few homes in the city with the Michigan-Iowa game on.
His wife, Megan, brought him here. She grew up in Worthington, a Columbus suburb. Her father taught oral surgery at Ohio State for three decades and was a team dentist for Woody Hayes and Earle Bruce.
On the Schembechlers' block, scarlet and grey flags line the porches, Buckeye decals decorate the cars and dogs wear Ohio State bandanas.
Their lawn has no flags, no decals. Their dogs -- Franklin and Bunny -- show no loyalty one way or the other.
"We don't advertise it," Shemy said.
But inside the house, there's no doubt who and what they root for. But it's early in this game and Shemy has a bad feeling. Michigan scored early but it has lost the momentum after a quick score.
His eyes are glued to the TV, and during commercial breaks, series are replayed three, four, maybe five times -- fast-forward, rewind, pause.
He doesn't even glance at the remote. His fingers know exactly where the buttons are.
Shemy starts to comment on the play but he's interrupted.
"It's snowing, it's snowing," his son Bo shouts as he runs in the back door.
For this moment, Shemy pauses the game.
"Yeah, Bo," he says. "You want some mittens?"
The door is open and the cold is whipping inside the house.
It is snowing, but it's not sticking quite yet. It's the kind of weather that sparks the reminder that Michigan-Ohio State is on the horizon.
Bo bounds out of the room, leaving the door open. The cold doesn't faze Shemy. He turns his eyes back to Michigan-Iowa, where Devin Gardner is again scrambling to find a receiver.
"Jeez," he says. "Just look at his feet."
During Shemy's dad's tenure at Michigan, family, friends and former players would congregate at the Schembechler home following every home game. There would be food, but the main event wouldn't start until a few hours later, when coach Schembechler would walk through the door.
"Men," he'd say. "Let's go down in the basement and watch the game."
It was not for the faint of heart. Anyone going into the basement was committing to another few hours of a football game they'd already seen play out earlier that day.
Schembechler would stand at the back of the room, replaying each down three, four, maybe five times. He'd take mental notes. He'd study each player, trying to decide whom to lecture, whom to praise the next day.
"Most of the times he wouldn't say a damn thing," Shemy said.
That's where coach Schembechler and Shemy are different.
"This lead doesn't feel safe," he says. "Come on offense, let's move the ball."
When Bo is older, Shemy will have him read Woody Hayes' book, "Hot Line to Victory."
When Shemy was in college, it was one of his textbooks.
For Bo, it'll be a history lesson on his grandfather -- who wrote the schematic X's and O's sections -- and a man who was his grandfather's mentor, friend and rival at different points in his life.
Bo's copy will be special. It'll be the copy that Hayes sent to coach Schembechler. One that has the inscription, "Bo -- You couldn't wait until after the game to have your heart attack. Thanks for nothing."
The heart attack in reference was the one Schembechler suffered the day before the 1970 Rose Bowl, in which the Wolverines had earned a spot with a victory over the Buckeyes in the 1969 Michigan-Ohio State game.
That game was the first in The Ten Year War, a decade-long rivalry between the two coaching legends.
|When Shemy Schembechler, middle, was young his life was planned around Michigan football.|
It was also the first Michigan-Ohio State game of Shemy's life. Though he doesn't remember it, he has seen it -- first on 16 mm film, then on VHS and eventually on DVD -- and heard about it from his late father enough to feel as though he had been there.
He had been born earlier that season, in the third week of Schembechler's Michigan head coaching career. His wife, Millie, gave birth on a Wednesday at 10:21 a.m. By lunchtime, Schembechler was back at the office, preparing for practice. An assistant berated him and sent him back to the hospital.
He missed practice that day and the Wolverines lost that weekend to Missouri.
"My dad never said it but he probably blamed me for that loss," Shemy joked.
When you are the child of a coach, your life becomes marked with the team -- a wedding during this season, a surgery during that postseason, a celebration during one fall camp or another.
In the summers, Shemy and Megan take Bo to watch the Ohio State marching band practice.
Bo loves the Ohio State marching band. His grandfather would probably understand.
He was a man who had two pairs of gold pants and owed the start of his career to Hayes.
According to Shemy, his father was college football's first graduate assistant when Hayes created the position at Ohio State in 1952 specifically for Schembechler.
It was a light that Schembechler never really left Hayes' eyes.
My heart melted. I was like, 'I love Woody Hayes. This is the greatest guy of all time,' And my dad is standing over there like the [graduate assistant] he always was.” -- Shemy Schembechler on his father's relationship with Woody Hayes
On Hayes' first visit to the Schembechler's home in Ann Arbor, which didn't happen until after he retired from coaching, Hayes made the drive from Columbus to Ann Arbor.
Shemy ran to the door as Hayes' car pulled up to the house. Coach Schembechler walked down the driveway to meet him, but Hayes marched straight past him.
"I didn't come here to see you," he said.
Hayes marched the rest of the way up the driveway and hugged Millie. He thanked her for her hospitality and told her he was thrilled to be in Ann Arbor to see their home. He shook Shemy's hand.
Shemy had never seen anyone treat his father that way.
"My heart melted. I was like, 'I love Woody Hayes. This is the greatest guy of all time,'" Shemy said. "And my dad is standing over there like the [graduate assistant] he always was."
Shemy didn't learn an appreciation for the game until he was 6 or 7. So when his son is 6 or 7, if he too has developed that appreciation, Shemy and Megan will take him to a game in Michigan Stadium.
It's hallowed ground, a place that defined his grandfather, a place that will bring up so many stories that Bo needs to hear some day.
|Four-year-old Bo Schembechler will soon know who he is and where he comes from.|
But this Michigan-Iowa game is one that Bo probably won't hear about.
Bo makes a stop in the living room during a particularly bad second half for the Wolverines.
Bo looks up at the TV. Right now it means nothing to him. The helmets, the jerseys, the chants; he recognizes them but he doesn't know how deep it goes for his father or how deep it could go for him some day.
He turns from the TV and jumps on the couch, wrapping his arms around Shemy's neck and pressing his face to his dad's.
"Dad, I want to go up," he says.
Bo climbs on to his shoulders. Up, down, up, down they go.
Iowa runs in a touchdown to tie the game. The bad feeling that Shemy had earlier seems to be fulfilling itself. Shemy sighs but continues to stand up and sit down, stand up and sit down.
The game seems doomed now. All the momentum is with the Hawkeyes. The Wolverines are struggling badly and Shemy is hurting for his team.
"Dad, put me down," Bo says. "It's still snowing and I want to go outside and play."