On a recent soft, warm evening at Glenn (Bo) Schembechler's home in Ann Arbor, dinner is being prepared. Bo is cooking chicken on the charcoal grill out back, alternating his attention between his task and hollering at his wife, Millie, who's fixing the rest of the meal in the kitchen. "The chicken is done, goddam it," Bo bellows. "Hurry up. I'll be bitterly disappointed if I overcook this chicken just because you can't get organized in there. Damn, the chicken is just right now, Mil, hurry up."
Millie, to her enormous credit, ignores the wordstorm blowing through the screen door. She is one of the few people in the U.S. who would dare. "I'm not afraid of him," she says, against a high-decibel backdrop of continuing advice and abuse from Bo, chicken cooker and card-carrying expert on all matters. "Well, I'm not afraid of him anymore." In truth, most everyone else isn't afraid of him any less. Coming upon Bo at his worst equates with meeting a hurricane in full force—at his best he's about like a tornado just getting organized. You don't explain Bo; you take shelter. However, there is much speculation that the 52-year-old University of Michigan football coach, who has put together a team poised to make a serious run at the national championship—if it can get past powerful Notre Dame on Sept. 19—has mellowed. "I have not mellowed, god-dam it," he says.
But he has, in subtle ways. One old buddy, Gerald R. Ford, center on Michigan's 1932 and 1933 national championship teams, who lived for a spell in downtown Washington, says, "Bo has relaxed a little. Frankly, I think he's a more effective coach when he's less tense." But the mere mention of his mellowing sets Schembechler off, and he goes out of his way to prove it isn't so.
For example, when Linebacker Mike Boren walked into Bo's office recently, Mike opened his mouth but Bo spoke first, of course.
"Look at your hair."
"I was born with it like this."
"Naw, you got it all pushed up. You weren't born with it like that. It wasn't even like that when I met you. Get a haircut."
"Bo, it's only a half-inch long."
"Get a haircut. How much do you weigh?"
"Oh, 218, but I've been sick."