Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tuesdays With Millie

When Glenn Schembechler died last Friday, it was a no-brainer that college football's hopeless romantics were going to overuse a predictable metaphor.
"Now, Bo and Woody are together ... watching from above."

First, we should probably define "from above" as having more of a Heavenly implication than "from their general admission seats in the upper deck."
Actually, if there really exists a wing of Heaven reserved for college football coaches, how do we really know that Bo and Woody are rubbing elbows? For all we -- the undead who Bo left behind to roam aimlessly about this blue marble floating in the solar system -- know that Dead Coaches Association is perhaps not as we imagined.
For one thing, John McKay just "accidentally" flicked one of his cigar ashes into Bo's glass of ginger ale.
That was right after Bear Bryant sent Bo to the store to get a few more bags of Tostitos Scoops because Bo screwed up on his first trip to the Heaven mini-mart, buying bags of Tostitos Restaurant Style.

The topper, though, was when McKay and The Bear monopolized the La-Z-Boys and any time Bo tried to join the conversation, John and Paul would do what a lot of us did in high school or college -- y'know, covering your mouth to mask a fake cough which was you blurting "bullshit!" or "blow job!"
Only, in this case, it went like this:
McKay: "That's great, Bo." (fake cough) "rosebowl!"

The only defense Woody could offer for his dead Big Ten brother was to recite what's on his own headstone back on earth.
"And in the night of death, hope sees a star / And, listening, love hears the rustle of a wing ..."

All of those images would've raced through my mind when they were eulogizing the dearly-departed Glen Schembechler yesterday in the Big House. When bold, symbolic words about hope seeing a star and the rustling of wings eludes us, it's always best to have back-up material handy.
Rather than talk about the empty gesture I made of using my index finger to jiggle the 2-inch-tall bobbin'-head Woody and Bo magnets stuck on the freezer door of the fridge, I instead found myself amazed and amused to learn that my mother-in-law had a rather friendly relationship with Millie Schembechler from their younger days spent together in Buffalo, NY.

According to my Mrs. PF7, Mildred was a very kind woman during her days spent married to Don Cunningham, a famous Buffalo radio personality.
When Don passed away, that's when Millie (somehow) took a shining to a (mostly) uncharismatic football coach who hailed originally from Barberton, Ohio.
Lord knows how they met ... I didn't ask.

What we do know is that Bo and Millie's only child was affectionately nicknamed "Schemmie." What my Mrs. isn't too affectionate is the fact that, after Millie died of adrenal cancer in '92, Bo remarrried less than a year later -- a violation of my Mrs.' grief-and-mourning policy.
Me to the Mrs.: "Why can't you give Bo the benefit of the doubt? For all you know, during Millie's illness, maybe it was Cathy who provided Bo with great comfort, support and partial nudity. Bo was 63 at the time and, ummmm ... he probably had needs."

The thing is, less than two weeks before Mille passed, Tom Monaghan (Domino's Pizza) fired Bo as president of the Detroit Tigers in favor of hiring Mike Ilitch (Little Caesar's Pizza).
Other than that, if my Mrs. had been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury to testify, errrr ... ummmm ... if someone had requested that she eulogize Bo, she, no doubt would've chosen her words carefully as she recounted the time during her sophomore year in college when she was at an IU @ Michigan basketball game in Crisler Arena.
My Mrs. told me that it was at that game where she happened upon Millie and Bo seated in the first two seats along the aisle. Wearing a red sweater and an anti-Wolverine button (no, it wasn't the famous "Muck Fichigan" button), my Mrs. and Millie exchanged warmed pleasantries and casual conversation ... "How's life treatin' ya?" ... "Is Schemmie stayin' outta trouble?" ...
The Mrs. recalled: "Bo had the aisle seat and I was leaning over him for about five minutes. And we never said a word to each other."

That's what Bo gets for kickin' the crap outta several defenseless Indiana teams.
My Mrs. is always amused when I bring up Bo's Ohio State nightmare during his early maize-n'-blue tenure.
1970 -- took a 9-0 record to Columbus, lost 20-9 (no bowl game)
1971 -- was 11-0 with the Buckeyes coming to Ann Arbor; won, 10-7 (but lost to Stanford in the Rose Bowl)
1972 -- a 10-0 record was negated when OSU won, 14-11, in Columbus (no bowl game)
1973 -- took a 10-0 record into the Buckeye showdown, tied 10-10 (OSU got the Rose Bowl bid; UM got nothing)
1974 -- 10-0 going into Columbus ... lost 12-10 (no bowl game)
1975 -- 8-0-2 with OSU comin' to town ... the Wolverines lost, 21-14 (and, since this was the first year that the Big Ten was allowed to play in bowl games, Michigan took an 8-1-2 team to the Orange Bowl -- whereupon Oklahoma whipped the Wolves, 14-6

All of Bo's undefeated seasons ruined by Woody ... and there wasn't a Carquest Bowl available for the Big Ten so that Bo could take out some frustration on a Long Beach State or a Drake.
Now, Bo is "up there" ... getting treated rudely by John McKay, who's, once again, covering his mouth to mask the fake cough ... "rosebowl!"

But maybe Bo is getting the last laugh by asking McKay to see his national championship rings from 1962, 1967, 1972 and 1974.
McKay would look at his ringless fingers and suddenly realize -- "you can't take it with you."

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