The recent back and forth between current University of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and the son of legendary football coach Bo Schembechler reminds me of the old Nike commercial featuring multi-sport athlete Bo Jackson.
Bo knows baseball.
Bo knows football.
And Bo knows hockey.
In Ann Arbor, however, Bo knew everything.
Harbaugh made a giant misstep in defending his old coach, hinting that Bo did not know about the sexual abuse of Dr. Robert Anderson. Anderson has at least 800 former Michigan athletes accusing him of these actions while he was the team physician.
Harbaugh said this about Schembechler regarding whether Bo knew about the abuse but allowed it to continue.
“Bo Schembechler … there was nothing that I saw in the times when I was a kid here, my dad was on staff or when I played here…he never sat on anything,” Harbaugh said at a football camp at Ferris State.
“He never procrastinated on anything. He took care of it before the sun went down. That’s the Bo Schembechler that I know. There’s nothing that ever was swept under the rug or ignored. He addressed everything in a timely fashion. That’s the Bo Schembechler that I knew.”
I served as Michigan football beat writer during Schembechler’s final years, and it was made clear to me that Bo knew everything. He did sweep things under the rug. Bo ran the Michigan football team. He also ran the Ann Arbor and campus Police departments.
There were times I’d get tips from sources telling me about the misconduct of certain football players. I’d call the Ann Arbor or campus police only to hit dead ends. There were no records of player misconduct. No one knew a thing.
The Bo Schembechler I Knew
Bo had already made a late-night phone call to sweep to make things go away. The public never knew what Bo knew.
Bo’s son Matthew Schembechler told the Detroit News that Bo was aware of Anderson’s underhanded and slimy dealings. Bo ignored the story. He even got mad at young Matthew when he told his dad that the doctor abused him as a child.
Instead of firing the doctor, Bo punched Matthew in the chest and told him to toughen, Matthew said to the Detroit News.
That’s the Bo I knew.
“People are saying Bo didn’t know. Bo did know,” said former player Gilvanni Johnson.
Bo believed in “The Team. The Team. The Team.”
That went further than teamwork on the football field or practice field. It meant that there is a need to protect Michigan football by any means necessary. That meant no scandals. No controversy. Erase everything that could hurt the product and damage the block M.
Did Bo know about Dr. Anderson?
You’re damn right he knew. The amount of abused athletes is over eight hundred athletes, and the king of Ann Arbor did not know?
Are you kidding me?
Bo had to know. And he did nothing about it. His antics protected the brand for many years. But now scandal has diminished the legacy of Bo.