As you are probably aware, Bo Schembechler died this morning at the age of 77 (ESPN story here). Honestly, there isn't all that much I can say about him. I knew he was the face of Michigan football, that he means as much to them as Woody means to us. But honestly, while I appreciate his contribution to the sport I love, and while I know he was a great person, there's really nothing I can write about him. He didn't impact my life in the way he did the lives of all those Michigan players and fans. So, for some thoughts on Bo and the game tomorrow from a Michigan fan, I point you toward Brian's excellent post here at mgoblog.
However, the game goes on, as I imagine Bo would want it. Hearts will be heavy tomorrow on the Michigan sideline, but the team will play on, as they should. Bo and Woody made this rivalry what it is: a game that is bigger than any one single person. Michigan will be playing for Bo tomorrow, certainly, but not just for him. They're also playing for Fielding Yost, Fritz Crisler, Tom Harmon, Desmond Howard, Charles Woodson, and hundreds of players and coaches over the years.
And of course, for our Buckeyes, it isn't just about Jim Tressel's record against Lloyd Carr, or Troy Smith's Heisman hopes, or even a berth in the national championship. They're playing for the glory of a program that has been headed by Paul Brown and Woody Hayes, two of the greatest coaches in football history, a program that has produced five Heisman Trophy winners: Les Horvath, Vic Janowicz, Hopalong Cassady, Archie Griffin (twice, of course), and Eddie George. Hundreds of players over the years have had their success or failure judged by their record against Michigan, and this team is no different.
Since 1935, this game has decided the Big Ten Championship twenty times. Twice before this have both teams come into the game undefeated. This, however, is the only time the teams have been ranked #1 and #2. The winner will play for the national championship. In short, the game could not be bigger.
But you know as well as I do that the records don't matter. This game would be the most important on the schedule regardless of record. Whether the teams have everything to play for or nothing, this is the game the players and the fans want to win the most.
That's it for me until after the game. Here's hoping for a good, hard-fought game, and a Buckeye victory. Enjoy the game, and go Bucks!