Memories from 1969: Those Who Stay Will Be Champions - The Beginning

Nov. 20, 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.

"Those Who Stay Will Be Champions" - The Beginning
Thomas J. Takach, MD / 1969 Letterman

One afternoon between classes during spring practice, I decided to come in early in order to have my ankles taped for practice later that same day. As I arrived in the old football training room-locker room complex -- which were adjacent areas on the second floor of Yost Fieldhouse -- I found that the locker room was dark and completely deserted except for one person, John Prusiecki, a big defensive lineman from Indiana. He had just quit, and after informing the coaches of his decision had come in to clean out his locker. Failing to realize that he was not alone, he had taken a sharpie pen and below the words "Those who stay will be champions" on Bo's sign had added "and those who leave will be doctors, lawyers, and scientists." Eventually, most of the team saw the graffiti before the sign was replaced.

That sign stating "Those who stay will be champions" remained in the locker room throughout spring practice, individual summer workouts, and the entire fall football season. It became a primary, philosophical, motivating force for that team during the 1969 championship season and for future teams as well, summarizing the driving force and encompassing the goals of the entire group of athletes who wear the maize and blue.

As usual, it turned out that Bo was right - those who stayed did become champions. We were the 1969 Big Ten football champions and the Big Ten representative in the Rose Bowl on, Jan. 1, 1970.

To read the rest of Takach's 1969 memories, 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: The Time, the Place, the Setting, the Men (11/19/09) | 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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