Michael Rosenberg visits Morenci 2009.05.06

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Where would football be without tradition?

Morenci graduate Zac Johnson was the first person Sunday to talk about tradition at Stair Public Library.

He was asked about his first University of Michigan/Ohio State University contest—the thrill of stepping onto the field as a Wolverine to play in one of America’s greatest football traditions.

Morenci’s new football coach Tom Saylor used the word tradition, also.

Tradition, talent and coaching—those are three key elements for a successful program, Saylor said.

Michigan Notable Book author and guest speaker Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press was also asked about tradition.

“What would sports be like without the big rivalries?” he asked. “It would just be a game with good players. It’s not just great athletes; tradition plays a major role.”

Rosenberg read a few pages from his book, “War as They Knew It: Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, and America in a Time of Unrest,” then spoke about writing it before fielding questions from the audience of more than 100 people.

“If Woody and Bo had met in a different era, this book wouldn’t have been written,” he said. “What appealed to me was how much the country changed during that time.”

Neither of the coaches fit into the changing society of the 1960s and 70s, Rosenberg said. Their qualities just didn’t make sense on the college campus of the times.

“I wanted to see how they handled the situation,” he said. “Bo handled it better than Woody.”

Rosenberg said his goal was to write about football in a way that would interest fans as well as those who didn’t care about football.

“It was like writing a book in English and French at the same time.”

Rosenberg told several anecdotes from his research, including a report that Woody never recruited in Michigan until assistants finally convinced him to cross the border in 1972.

On the way back south, the gas gauge kept getting lower and lower, but he brushed aside urgings to stop for a fill-up.

Finally, he said, “We will push this car over the border if we have to. We will not spend a dime in the state of Michigan.”

Rosenberg often refers to Woody as The Old Man and he was asked about that moniker.

“A shocking number of his players and coaches referred to him that way. Actually he was in his 50s when he started at Ohio State, but he was an anachronism. The world was passing him by and he knew it.”michael.rosenberg.jpg

Rosenberg said he’s heard some complaints from Michigan readers because they ended up feeling some affection for Hayes.

“They were more comfortable hating him for those 40 years.”

Campus unrest was more of a challenge to Bo, Rosenberg said, with Ann Arbor as the center of the midwestern counterculture. The drug culture suddenly merged with football and Bo didn’t know how to deal with it.

The military draft fueled the unrest. Whether or not young men supported the effort in Vietnam, there was a good chance they would have to become a part of it.

Woody was a student of military history and Rosenberg pointed out an irony in his coaching. Wars are won in different ways, but Woody never changed his football strategy.

Wars are fought to acquire territory, he said, but that wasn’t the case in Vietnam. rosenber.picnic.jpg

“Woody probably didn’t understand Vietnam and he didn’t understand the passing game.”

When he talks to fans on either side of the border, he hears the same thing: Woody couldn’t coach today in modern college football; Bo could step right in.

“A lot of people think that Bo and Woody were two peas in a pod,” Rosenberg said. “I discovered they weren’t at all.”

Rosenberg expressed his delight with the Morenci program—the tailgate party, the pre-game show, the spread of food.

“I’ve probably had 25 book signings and talks and I can honestly say that I’ve never had a welcome or a set-up like this.”

  • Front.little Ball
    Fayette's Demetrious Whiteside (left)Skylar Lester attempt to keep the ball from going out of bounds during Morenci's recent basketball tournament for fourth and fifth grade teams. Morenci's Andrew Schmidt stands by.
  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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