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Obviously, when you're a winner like Bo, there are plenty of people who want to be your friend. But Bo doesn't really want friends. Or, more precisely, a few friends might be O.K., but he doesn't have time for them. Or, more precisely, doesn't want to have time for them. Over the Fourth of July weekend he and Millie did get away for a few days to visit some friends on Indiana's Lake Wawasee, but he wasn't all that keen on going. Right before leaving, he went back and picked up something to take with him "just in case." It was the film of last year's Wisconsin-Michigan State game. "You never know," he said. "It might rain." As it turned out, it didn't rain, but he did study the film. Got it?
Bo's best friend is Joe Hayden, chairman of the board of The Midland Company in Cincinnati. Their friendship also involves business deals. Says Hayden, "Bo doesn't go out of his way to seek close friends. But the image he projects is so different from how he really is. He's well-rounded, and I don't mean his physique. I don't know why he keeps coaching, other than the thrill of the hunt, but I do know that one time I told him, 'As long as you get up in the morning and are in a hurry to get to work, you've got the right job.' Bo smiled and said, 'I've still got the right job.' "
Just before Bo's quadruple-bypass surgery in 1976, he called Hayden from the hospital. "Joe, is everything O.K. for Millie and the kids [there are four sons, ranging in age from 11 to 26] in case of, uh, stark disaster?"
"What do you mean, stark disaster?"
"You dumb son of a bitch. If something in there stops going ticky tick, it's stark disaster for Glenn Schembechler."
"It's all O.K."
Schembechler will on rare occasions make an attack on relaxing and watch a videocassette of a movie on his television at home, sometimes with Falk. One night this summer was typical of the way things generally go. Falk picked up a selection of films for Bo's approval. Over dinner at Bimbo's Casa Di Roma he was deciding which film they would watch that evening. Caddyshack was a candidate because it lasted less than two hours. Urban Cowboy was out because it had that Travolta character in it. Heaven Can Wait involved football, so that was nixed—this was to be relaxation. Falk lobbied for Being There. The clerk at the tape store had made a sneering reference to Michigan's sometimes less than exciting brand of football when he said of Being There, "It's kind of dull for the first 15 minutes, but Bo ought to be used to that." Being There was selected. Bo promptly went to sleep in his recliner during the first five minutes of the film, awoke at its end and said, "That is the worst movie I've ever seen." Got it?
Yet—in this bit of an example of the new Bo—he felt he should watch the movie, though not so deep down inside that he wouldn't much rather have watched game films. By himself. Still, he wanted to be hospitable, and he knew that's what he should do. But he couldn't resist asking a visitor at one point, "How long are you going to stay around here?" The visitor said, "About three months, and then I'll go home and get clean clothes and be back." Schembechler doubled over in laughter. He's trying to be more human, but damn, it's hard. Millie does give him pretty good marks in this endeavor. She says, "He has had so much success that now he knows what he has to get done and that he can do it by being nice to people."
So much success. Ahhhhh, yes. "Schembechler," says Bob Knight, coach of the 1976 and '81 NCAA-champion Indiana basketball teams, "is the best coach coaching anything in college sports." Southern California coach John Robinson, a Bo buddy, says, "I'd love to have a son play for him. He'd come out of there a much better person." Jerry Ford says, "He's a helluva man, isn't he? The two things I think of with Bo are strength and success. And then, underneath the surface is a very, very compassionate man." Ohio State coach Woody Hayes professes great admiration, although he does add softly, "Bo is the second best in the country. I have to say the first is that old man down at Alabama."