Indeed, Schembechler is down to a sleek 197 pounds these days. He dropped more than 30 pounds this summer to win a bet from his friend Tom Monaghan, the Domino's pizza magnate. Bo's reward was a fully restored 1926 fire engine that now sits in his Ann Arbor driveway. "My dad was a fire chief, and I love those things," says Bo.
Nibbling on lettuce, skinless broiled chicken and seasoned pasta at a table dressed with a pink tablecloth and a cut-flower vase, the tough guy looks absolutely benign. Bo is into jogging and stationary-bike riding these days and seems to have gone the docile yuppie route. "Yuppie?" the coach fairly explodes. Then he laughs. With the grin still on his face he says, without a drop of humor, "Any loss is bad. I can't stand 'em."
Same old Bo. So what about that story Holtz tells about him, the one in which Bo describes his relationship with the press? "Lou," Schembechler supposedly said, "if I walked across water, the headlines the next day would say, 'Bo Can't Swim.' "
"That story?" says Bo. "He made that up. Lou Holtz is the greatest manipulator of the media in the history of America. Don't ever let him get you going."
When Michigan took a 24-14 lead in the third quarter Saturday, it looked as if there was no way Holtz would ever get his own team going. The Wolverines had just scored two touchdowns in a span of six seconds, the second on Harbaugh's 27-yard pass to running back Jamie Morris after Notre Dame failed to cover a backward-bouncing Michigan kickoff. But Holtz rallied his boys in a way that Faust never could, and the Irish charged 66 yards for a touchdown on their next possession to make it, after a blown extra-point attempt, 24-20.
It was clear that Notre Dame could win the game. In fact it appeared that Notre Dame had, when Beuerlein threw a bullet to tight end Joel Williams leaping in the back of the end zone with less than five minutes to play. But the pass was ruled incomplete because the back judge, Ted DeFilippo, saw Williams's right foot come down on the end line (NCAA rules require a receiver to first touch one foot inbounds for a reception to be legal). Neither photographs nor TV replays conclusively supported the call by DeFilippo, who had a direct sightline to Williams's feet. Notre Dame settled for a field goal, making it 24-23, which was how it ended, after John Carney missed a 45-yard field goal attempt with 13 seconds left.
Williams said after the game that he had been told by a Michigan ball boy poised near the end line that Williams had, indeed, landed inbounds. Said a crushed but ever-wry Holtz afterward, "The ball boy said he was in, and I believe Michigan runs an honest school."
But that touchdown is not coming back. Nor is Schembechler, at least not until the opening game of 1988 when the teams meet again in South Bend. Meanwhile that ball boy had better lie low, lest Bo thrash him to within an inch of his life and make him write "1980" 10,000 times on the blackboard.
It was a Michigan victory all right, but certainly not a pretty one. Said Harbaugh, "That's not the way Michigan plays defense." Just wait until Schembechler comes down from his victory high and realizes that his boys didn't even make the unranked villains punt. But then, that's not the way Notre Dame plays offense, either—at least not the Notre Dame we've seen for half a decade. It's obviously a whole new ballgame.
Welcome to the fun house, Lou.