Because he loves the boys and the good old boys (former Quarterback John Wangler says, "Once you're a part of Michigan football, he makes sure you always are. The older you get, the more you appreciate Bo"), he loves the good old stories. He tells of Carter showing up as a freshman and one of the coaches marveling, "My God, look at him run and catch." Later that same day, Carter ran and caught a plane back home to Riviera Beach, Fla. Bo caught up with him by phone. "I didn't think he was gone for good," Bo says. "He just needed to go home for a little reinforcement from his family and friends. And the reinforcement he got was, 'Get your ass back up there right now.' " Carter did.
From this shaky beginning, Bo and Carter have developed a close relationship. That's mostly because Schembechler is in awe of Carter's talents. "I just don't know what else I can say about him, got it?" says Bo.
That's understandable. Just about one of every three passes Carter catches goes for a touchdown (21 TDs in 68 receptions in only two years). He was the first Michigan sophomore since 1925 to be named an All-America; he's the first Michigan sophomore ever voted MVP by his teammates. Indeed there is increasing speculation that Carter, a junior this season (Bo calls him "the finest receiver in the nation"), may turn out to be the best player Michigan has ever had.
Carter generally escapes Bo's acerbic tongue—and even Millie finds that remarkable. "He gets on me sometimes," says Carter, "but the other players say he gets on them more." That's probably true because when you meet Bo's standard of perfection, you have just exceeded the world standard, and therefore it's time for the screaming to stop. "It has been a great pleasure to play for Bo," says Carter.
Schembechler sees the qualities he admires most surfacing every day in Carter. His attitude is superior, he's single-minded, he's great in practice, he's interested in team rather than personal goals, he's fast, he's tough, his hands are terrific, he keeps his mouth shut and, most of all, he's Bo's. "Nobody can allow Carter to have single coverage," says Schembechler. He smiles when he says that, because teams must sometimes allow Anthony single coverage, or some other Wolverine, left unattended, will do them in.
Thus both coach and player know better than anyone that Carter is the heart and, more important, the soul of this football team. With such responsibility, it's no surprise that Carter chooses his words carefully when asked to evaluate Michigan's chances. "I hope we'll be able to compete," he says.
Former players often drop by to see Bo, and he makes time for each of them. "All the players embellish the hell out of the stories," says Schembechler. "They say I was the toughest, meanest bastard that ever lived. I know that isn't true."
Yet Bo inspires extravagant tales because he can be so outrageous and because he is sooooooo competitive. Former Linebacker Mel Owens, No. 1 draft pick last spring of the L.A. Rams, shakes his head and says, "Every day Bo is fired up, every day. He's feisty and he goes after it." Once, on a quiet social outing, Bo and two other guys climbed on bikes for a peaceful ride through the countryside. No sooner was everybody rolling than Bo said, "Let's race." Another time, on Canham's boat for a pleasure cruise on Lake Erie, everybody was relaxed except Bo, who was trying to make sure the boat was exactly on course. Never mind that nobody had a course planned.
And Bo can now laugh at himself, which he does, recalling the night before the 1975 Northwestern game. Northwestern is a college football power on the order of most any high school you'd care to name. Sitting in his hotel room looking at films, Bo suddenly bolted upright. "Goddam, Northwestern is good and we aren't ready," he said. "I am sitting on an upset." Whereupon he raged through the hotel, clicking off TVs, screaming, berating, threatening, kicking ass and taking names. He finally returned to his hotel room, spent. Next day, Michigan won 69-0. Got it?