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Casual or Careless?

2010 November 8

          Former University of Michigan Athletic Director Bill Martin was in a story-telling mood in the days prior to his departure in March of this year. Martin told that he and his wife Sally used to love to ride their bicycles to the U-M football games in the early 1960s because the stadium was never crowded and they could stretch out and sit wherever they liked in the bleachers.

          “Then,” Martin said, “Don Canham got lucky, got Bo, and he filled the place up.”

          Perhaps Mr. Martin only meant to compliment Bo without insinuating that Mr. Canham was less than purposeful — or prescient — in his choice of Mr. Schembechler. Martin might only have been careless when describing the man some would call (with due respect to Yost and Crisler) the most productive AD in the history of Michigan athletics. So it might have been inadvertent — or Martin might have been intentionally (if casually) trying to bolster his legacy by suggesting that Canham was fortunate whereas Martin had to scramble for days only to be rebuffed by three other coaches before Coach Rodriguez finally said yes. Or maybe Martin was going for humor – or irony: Schembechler had been successful at second-tier Miami (of Ohio), but he was a relatively inexperienced, if not entirely unknown, coach when Canham – in one of the first of many major decisions he would make during two expansive decades as AD – needed just 15 minutes with Bo to sense his nascent greatness and hire him on the spot.

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