Bo Schembechler retired from coaching 23 years ago and died six years ago, but he’s a major presence at this year’s Super Bowl.
Jack Harbaugh, the father of 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and Ravens coach John Harbaugh, was an assistant to Schembechler at Michigan for seven seasons. Jim was Big Ten Player of the Year as Schembechler’s quarterback at Michigan in 1986, and although John wasn’t a player or coach for Schembechler, he spent a lot of time around the program while Jack was an assistant and has mentioned Schembechler’s influence several times this week — as have his father and brother.
“I see Bo’s fingerprints all over the Raven football team and all over the San Francisco 49er team, and there could not be anyone that you could better emulate,” Jack Harbaugh said on Wednesday.
Jim Harbaugh said that the only person who might have been a bigger influence on him than Schembechler is his father.
“Next to my dad, right on the same level as my dad is Bo Schembechler,” Jim Harbaugh said. “He is one of the greatest coaches to ever coach the game.”
John Harbaugh was asked today about an odd phrase that he and his brother have both used: “Grind the meat and rattle the molars.” That’s a phrase that Schembechler used to describe the run-first offense and physical blocking style that he coached.
“That’s Bo,” Harbaugh said. “When Michigan would be ahead, Bo would get on the headphones and say, ‘It’s time to grind some meat.’ That means it’s time to run the ball, four minute offense and run the off-tackle play. And ‘rattle the molars,’ that’s trench warfare in football up front. That’s football.”
For Bo Schembechler, seeing the Harbaugh boys coach against each other in a tough, physical, run-first football game would be heavenly.