Jim Harbaugh spent decades away from the Michigan football program, playing in the NFL and coaching other places. But when his mentor, legendary U-M coach Bo Schembechler died suddenly in 2006, Harbaugh was as distraught as hundreds of other Wolverines.
Today, nine years to the day after Schembechler's death, the current U-M coach remembered him.
"Coach Schembechler's a daily source of inspiration," Harbaugh, who played for him in 1982-86, said on today's Big Ten conference call. "He remains that for me and all of the people he coached or is associated with. Today's a special day in remembering coach Schembechler."
Harbaugh has embraced Schembechler's legacy at U-M, buying a house down the street from where Schembechler lived in Ann Arbor, thinking about him on his drive to work and seeing Bo's statue outside when he walks into Schembechler Hall, the U-M football offices.
He even shot a promo for the Big Ten Network in which he walks past the statue and tips his cap -- which features a simple maize M, emulating what Schembechler wore.
Speaking with Free Press columnist Mitch Albom this summer, Harbaugh said Schembechler's memory inspired him to take the job.
"It definitely played a part in it," Harbaugh told Albom on WJR-AM (760). "There's something about the man -- you know the man. He molds your DNA. He's got a way like a wrought iron they put into one of those ovens; he molded, twisted, he was that kind of person. Not necessarily set out to emulate him, but he had a will, an iron will, that molded men, and I was fortunate to be one of the thousands that benefited from his teaching."
With Michigan having an outside chance at the Big Ten title over its final two games -- Saturday at Penn State (noon, ABC) and hosting Ohio State on Nov. 28 -- Harbaugh shared what he thought Schembechler would say to this team.
"I think he'd tell them to have at it, enjoy the healthy, honest, fair competition of playing in big games in November," Harbaugh said. "I think that's what he would say."
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This article was written by Mark Snyder from Detroit Free Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.