Saturday, July 05, 2008

Michigan was the cradle of coaches during the Bo-era

During his 21-year tenure (1969-1989) as the Head Coach at Michigan, Bo Schembechler always had excellent assistant coaches to help him with the team. Coach Schembechler was not only a great teacher to his players, but also to his assistant coaches. Under Bo, Michigan became the cradle of coaches. Twelve (12) of Coach Schembechler's assistant coaches went on to head coaching positions at major college programs. In fact, several of the coaches went on to achieve great success in their own programs. Three of the assistants have won a National Championship as head coach (i.e., Bill McCartney 1990 @ Univ. of Colorado; Lloyd Carr 1997 @ Michigan; & Les Miles 2007 @ LSU). Additionally, two others have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame (i.e., Jim Young in 1999 & Don Nehlen in 2005). Following is a brief profile of each assistant coach under Bo who went on to be a head coach at a major college program:

  • Jim Young (Michigan asst. coach: 1969-1972)

Coach Young was the first of Bo's assistant coaches to leave the Michigan program to become a head coach. Originally, Coach Young came with Bo to Michigan from Miami (OH) University in 1969. Coach Young was the Wolverines' Defensive Coordinator for Bo's first four seasons. Coach Young left to become the Head Coach at the University of Arizona in 1973. When he went to the Univ. of Arizona, he brought fellow assistant Larry Smith along with him to serve as his Defensive Coordinator. After four seasons leading the Wildcats, Coach Young returned to the Big Ten Conference when he became Purdue University's Head Coach in 1977. Coach Young led the Boilermakers from 1977-1981. Thereafter, he served as the Head Coach at Army from 1983-1990. Interestingly, Coach Young's first service as a head coach occurred while he was still an assistant at Michigan. Coach Young led the Wolverines in the 1970 Rose Bowl Game after Bo suffered a heart attack on the eve of the big contest. Coach Young was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999.



  • George Mans (Michigan asst. coach: 1966-1973)
Coach Mans was one of only two assistant coaches from Bump Elliott's staff that Bo retained when he became the head man at Michigan in 1969. As a player, Mans had been the captain of the 1961 team. He served on Bo's staff for five seasons before becoming the Head Coach at Eastern Michigan University in 1974.


  • Larry Smith (Michigan asst. coach: 1969-1972)
Coach Smith came to Michigan with Bo in 1969 from Miami (OH) University. He served on the Wolverines' staff for four seasons before departing for the University of Arizona to be the Defensive Coordinator under fellow Michigan assistant Jim Young who was hired to be the Wildcats' head coach. Coach Smith went on to become Head Coach at four major college programs [i.e., Tulane (1976-1979); Univ. of Arizona (1980-1986); Univ. of Southern Cal (1987-1992); and Univ. of Missouri (1994-2000)]. Coach Smith is best remembered for leading USC to three consecutive Rose Bowl games in his first three years as the Head Coach at USC. In fact, Coach Smith beat his mentor Bo Schembechler in the 1990 Rose Bowl Game which was the last game of Bo's storied career.


Of all 36 assistants who ever worked under Bo at Michigan, Coach Moeller probably had the most long standing relationship. As a player, Moeller was the Captain of the 1962 Ohio State team on which Bo served as an assistant coach under Woody Hayes. In 1967 & 1968, Moeller served as an assistant coach under Bo at Miami (OH) University and Moeller came with Bo to Michigan in 1969. Coach Moeller became the Wolverines' Defensive Coordinator in 1973 after Jim Young left to become the Head Coach at the Univ. of Arizona. Moeller coached the Wolverines' defense to four stellar seasons before taking his first head coaching position. He became the Head Coach at the University of Illinois in 1977 and promptly lost his first game of his head coaching career to Bo when Michigan beat the Fighting Illini 37-9 to open the 1977 season. Moeller remained with Illinois for three seasons before re-joining Bo's staff at Michigan in 1980 as the quarterbacks coach. When Moeller returned, he brought with him one of his assistant coaches from Illinois. That assistant coach was Lloyd Carr. In 1982, Moeller resumed his duties as Michigan's Defensive Coordinator. In 1987, Moeller switched sides of the ball and became the Wolverines' Offensive Coordinator for Bo's final three seasons as head coach (i.e., 1987-1989). In 1990, Moeller ascended to the head coaching position at Michigan as the anointed successor to Coach Schembechler. Moeller led the Wolverines for five seasons and guided them to a win in the 1993 Rose Bowl Game versus Washington.


  • Chuck Stobart (Michigan asst. coach: 1969-1976)
Coach Stobart was another one of the assistant coaches who was on Bo's first Michigan staff in 1969. Coach Stobart worked under Bo at Miami (OH) University and followed Coach Schembechler to Michigan where Stobart worked on staff for eight seasons. In 1977, Coach Stobart became the Head Coach at the University of Toledo. His 1981 team went 9-3 and won the MAC title. The following season Coach Stobart became the Head Coach at Utah where he stayed for 3 seasons. He later became the Head Coach at Memphis where he coached from 1989-1994.


  • Don Nehlen (Michigan asst. coach: 1977-1979)
Coach Nehlen was hired by Bo in 1977 to replace the departed Chuck Stobart who took the head coaching job at the University of Toledo. Coach Nehlen came to the Wolverines with head coaching experience as he helmed Bowling Green University for the nine previous seasons (1968-1976) where he compiled a 53-35-4 record. However, it was in the three seasons under Bo that Coach Nehlen would learn the techniques and philosophy that were an integral part of his approach in his next head coaching job. Coach Nehlen became the Head Coach at West Virginia University in 1980 and he had a tremendously successful 21-year run. Twice during his head coaching tenure at WVU, the Mountaineers went through the regular season undefeated (1988 & 1993). Of note is the fact that Michigan's new head coach, Rich Rodriguez, played for Coach Nehlen as a defensive back and won three letters (1982-1984). Coach Nehlen was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005. Coach Nehlen authored a book titled "Don Nehlen's Tales from the West Virginia Sideline" that chronicles his coaching career at WVU.
  • Bill McCartney (Michigan asst. coach: 1974-1981)

Coach McCartney was hired by Bo to join the Michigan staff right from the high school coaching ranks. McCartney had been coaching at Dearborn Divine Child High School where his teams won state titles in both football (1971 & 1973) and basketball (1973). In 1977, Coach McCartney was named the Wolverines' Defensive Coordinator to replace the departed Coach Moeller who took the head coaching position at Illinois. Coach McCartney, a Riverview Community High School (RCHS) graduate, was only 36-years old at the time Bo tapped him to be the Defensive Coordinator. After a tremendously successful five year run as DC, Coach McCartney was hired by Colorado to be its head coach. Coach McCartney led Colorado from 1982-1994 and he guided his team to the AP National Championship title in 1990.

Coach Harbaugh was in charge of the defensive backfield during his seven-year stint on Bo's coaching staff. Coach Harbaugh was later named the Head Coach at Western Michigan University in 1982 where he replaced Elliot Uzelac who then joined Bo's staff. However, Coach Harbaugh is probably best known as the father of legendary Michigan QB Jim Harbaugh. Back in the 70s, Coach Harbaugh would take his son Jim to Michigan practices and Jim even worked as a ball boy during games. Jim Harbaugh, of course, went on to be an All-American QB at Michigan under Coach Schembechler. Also, Jim is now the Head Coach at Stanford University.

  • Elliot Uzelac (Michigan asst. coach: 1982-1986)

Coach Uzelac, like Coach Nehlen, was hired by Bo after having left a head coaching position at a MAC school. Coach Uzelac was the head coach at WMU from 1975-1981. Interestingly, Coach Uzelac was replaced at WMU by former Michigan asst. coach Jack Harbaugh. Coach Uzelac worked under Bo for 5 seasons before taking the head coaching job at Navy where he led the program for three seasons (1987-1989).

Coach Cameron was on Bo's staff for Coach Schembechler's final three seasons. He remained on staff when Coach Moeller became the Head Coach at Michigan in 1990. Coach Cameron was on the Wolverines' staff for a total of seven seasons. He was named the Head Coach at his alma mater Indiana University in 1997 where he served from 1997-2001. Also, Coach Cameron has worked in the NFL as a head coach as he was the Miami Dolphins Head Coach in 2007.

  • Les Miles (Michigan asst. coach: 1980-1981 & 1987-1994)

Coach Miles not only was an assistant under Bo but he also played for him in the mid-'70s. Miles was a two-year letterwinner (1974 & 1975). Miles had two coaching stints with the Wolverines totaling 10 seasons. Coach Miles was first hired as a head coach by Oklahoma State where he served from 2001-2004. In 2005, Miles became the Head Coach at LSU and in 2007 he guided the Tigers to the National Championship title. In doing so, Miles became the third former asst. coach of Bo Schembechler to guide a team to the national title.

Coach Carr had served as an asst. coach for Illinois Head Coach Gary Moeller for two seasons (1978 & 1979) before Coach Moeller re-joined the Wolverines' staff in 1980. Both Bill McCartney, who graduated from the same high school as Carr, and Moeller recommended to Bo that he hire Carr on staff. Bo hired Carr and the rest, as they say, is history. It is worth noting, however, that Head Coach Carr led the Wolverines to the AP National Championship title in 1997.

Go Blue!

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4 Comments:

At 8:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the lowdown on the coaches that learned from Bo and their association to UM. Are you surprised that Rich Rod is now the head coach of the Wolverines?

 
At 9:26 AM, Blogger OldCleat said...

I'm actually not that protective of the phrase, not like some others that I know, but the whole "Cradle of Coaches" thing is a Miami University thing. I'm not really objecting that much because Bo was a Miami man, as was Jim Young, Larry Smith, Gary Moeller, and Chuck Stobart. Miami had a fairly unprecedented run as the Cradle of Coaches.

 
At 9:26 AM, Blogger OldCleat said...

I'm actually not that protective of the phrase, not like some others that I know, but the whole "Cradle of Coaches" thing is a Miami University thing. I'm not really objecting that much because Bo was a Miami man, as was Jim Young, Larry Smith, Gary Moeller, and Chuck Stobart. Miami had a fairly unprecedented run as the Cradle of Coaches.

 
At 2:22 PM, Blogger Eric Bender said...

I have a question, we have a chode down here in Central Illinois claiming to have coached with Bo Schembechler. I was wondering if you knew how to find out whether it is true or not.

Thanks!!!

 

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