Memories from 1969: The Time, the Place, the Setting, the Men

Nov. 19, 2009

Saturday's meeting with Ohio State marks the 40th anniversary of Michigan's 1969 win over the top-ranked Buckeyes in Bo Schembechler's first season as head coach. All week on, former players and Bo himself share memories of that season and the memorable November upset, leading up to Michigan's pivotal regular-season finale with the Buckeyes in the Big House.

"The Time, the Place, the Setting, the Men"
Bo Schembechler / Head Coach

If anything means anything in the football business, it is the way a team -- a collection of men -- can perform the way we did against Ohio State in 1969. It does not happen very often. Sometimes it never happens -- not in a whole lifetime.

Everything has to be right. The time. The place. The conditions. The setting. And the men. We had it all -- just once maybe -- but we had it that day in November of '69. It was the highlight of my whole career. I wanted it again, but at least it happened once. I'm a pretty lucky guy!

We're talking about a super team now -- Ohio State. I mean this was supposed to be one of the greatest teams in history. Imagine me standing in the middle of the locker room after we beat Iowa 51-6 telling the team we're going to beat Ohio State. You'd have thought I was crazy!

Later in the week, I say we go man on man with them. Moorhead against Kern -- who plays the best game? Henry Hill against Stillwagon. Dierdorf against Shad Williams. Thom Darden against the great Jack Tatum. Mandich against Jan White. We match 'em up man for man and I say "are you going to let him outplay you?"

You could feel the charge in the room. You could see it in their faces. But all you had to do was pick up a Sports Illustrated, pick up any newspaper -- it was all there: Ohio State, the super team; Ohio State, the unbeatable team; Ohio State, Ohio State, Ohio State!

They scored first and we came back and scored. They scored again and we could have quit right there. We came back again and took it to them. There is no way you could add it up and say we didn't deserve to win it. We won the game. No luck. No flukes. No crazy bounces. We went after them and beat them!

Be sure to pick up a copy of the gameday program at Michigan Stadium, featuring a commemorative section on Michigan's unforgettable win 40 years ago.

• Previous Entries: A Friday Fight in the Tunnel (11/18/09) | The Den of Mellow Men, View from the Sideline (11/17/09) | Those Who Stayed Were Champions (11/16/09)

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