Michigan football spring practice: Can Jim Harbaugh become the next Bo?


It’s just what Michigan football fans hope for, but you might wonder if first-year coach Jim Harbaugh can become the next Bo Schembecher.

The grizzly, hard working Schembechler, whose teams won or shared 13 Big Ten titles, compiled the best Big Ten winning percentage (143-23-3 .855) of any Michigan coach.

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Sure, Bo’s brashness rubbed some the wrong way, but he was respected, revered and admired by college football coaches from from coast to coast. He did exactly what the Michigan family envisioned—bring the Wolverine program back to national prominence.

Next legendary coach?

Now 46 years later, Harbaugh’s been given the identical assignment. His resume shows he just might become the next great Michigan coach:

The equally audacious Harbaugh quarterbacked Bo’s Wolverines (1983-86) to a Big Ten co-championship, and a Rose Bowl invitation. As a senior, he was named Big Ten Player of the Year.

Then he spent 14 years as a quarterback in the NFL, earning an invitation to the Pro Bowl in 1995.

College coaching was next for Harbaugh, eventually taking the head coaching job at San Diego before moving on to Stanford.  In 2011, he left Stanford for the NFL, spending four years as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. He won two NFC West titles before losing to his brother John in Super Bowl XLVII.

Great motivators

Both coaches earned the reputation as great motivators. Placards, slogans and even rah-rah speeches have been used to get the point across.

When Schembechler accepted the Michigan job in 1969, Michigan was smarting from an embarrassing  50-14 loss to Ohio State to end the 1968 season.

Bo immediately changed the regimen in Ann Arbor, inserting a no nonsense approach.

Starting with nearly 140 players at spring practice, only 75 of them returned for fall camp.

Those who stay…

A placard which read “Those who stay will be champions” was carefully placed in the locker room so it would be seen by the Wolverines as they headed to the tunnel.

Bo didn’t disappoint. Every Wolverine who played four years under him earned a championship ring.

Harbaugh speaks of championships too…

Spring practice began earlier today Feb. 24 and a pair of senior linebackers have already bought in. “There’s a new sense of urgency and we’re ready to go where Coach Harbaugh takes us,” said  Desmond Morgan. “He’s a great coach with a proven track record, and he’s been doing a great job of really getting to know us.” “Coach Harbaugh is competitive and focused,” said  Joe Bolden. “He knows what he wants and knows how to get it.” Harbaugh is and Bo was very team oriented. Bo’s famous speech, “The team, the team, the team,” is very similar to the following…

Jack Harbaugh, who coached for Bo and is the father of Jim and John (Baltimore Ravens head coach) always reminded his kids on the way to school to:  “Attack this day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.

Schembechler, if he was with us today, would most likely agree.

There is a bronze statue of Bo standing outside Schembechler Hall. Is there room for another?

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