Why Bo Never Got a Speeding Ticket

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November 21, 2008

This is Michigan-Ohio State week, but it also marks the second anniversary of Bo Schembechler’s passing.  That has John U. Bacon remembering his coauthor, and friend.

In the last years of his life, Bo Schembechler could make $25,000 for a one hour speech.  Not bad for a guy who made $21,000 for his first year of coaching at Michigan. 

But if you ever played for Bo, his fee was a lot lower.  Free. It didn’t matter if you were an All-American or a walk-on.  And so it was that one of his great players, Bill Dufek, asked him to address a conference of State Farm Insurance agents – in Lansing, of all places. 

On the way to the speech, Bo was getting antsy.  “Dammit, Dufek, early is on time, and on time is late – and YOU are going to make me late!”

Dufek was ready.  “Bo, we’re going to get there 15 minutes early, I’m already going 75, and let me remind you – I sell auto insurance.  A speeding ticket is not good for business.”

Bo grabbed Dufek’s sleeve.  “Dufek, you listen to me, and you listen good!  I have lived in the great state of Michigan since nineteen hundred and sixty nine, and I have received not one, NOT ONE!, speeding ticket on our great highways. YOU… WILL… MASH.. IT… DOWN!”

Well, whatya gonna do?  Dufek figures he’s probably right, so he accelerates to 80 miles per hour.  “Faster!”  85.  “Faster!”  Finally Dufek is going 90 miles per hour.  “Good!  Keep it there.  We’re going to be on time.”

Sure enough, a state trooper pulls up alongside Dufek’s car, with the lights rolling and the sirens wailing.  Dufek figures he’s already busted and decides to call the old man’s bluff. 

So he slides his driver’s side back a foot.  Bo gets the hint, and slides his passenger seat forward a foot.  The state trooper looks over, and sees Bo.  Bo waves.  The trooper does a double take, looks at the road, looks back, and signals, “Roll!”  Then he pulls in front of Dufek’s car and gives them a police escort all the way to East Lansing!  Such was Bo’s power. 

Last fall, I was driving through Lansing myself, on my way to a book signing up in Traverse City. Sure enough, I get pulled over near St. John’s.  The trooper asked me: “Son, do you know how fast you were going?”

“Eighty?”  I offer.

“I’ve got you at 88.”  That’s not good.  “Son, do you know what the speed limit is in this parts?”

“Well, you’re at my window, so it’s probably not… 87?”  You might have grinned – but he didn’t.  Strike two.

“Son, what’s the hurry?  Where’s the fire?”

“Well, as a matter of fact, I’m rushing to give a speech for a book I wrote with… Bo Schembechler.”

“Really?!” the trooper said, “I’m one of the very few Wolverine fans up in these parts.”

"Really?!?" I smiled, "What are the odds of that? And what are the odds of me having an extra book sitting right here on my passenger seat, doing nothing? How about I just sign this one for you, Officer O'Brien?  There you go."

Then he tapped my door, and said, “You drive safe, y’hear.”

I want you to know, two years after Bo’s passing, he remains undefeated on the highways of the state of Michigan. 

Copyright © 2008, Michigan Radio

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  • 2/7/2009 10:15 PM Justin wrote:

    You have a great blog here! I just wanted you to know that I enjoyed that story about Bo, just like I enjoyed the book you worked on with him. Keep up the good work and Go Blue!
    Reply to this
  • 2/8/2009 10:37 PM JUB wrote:

    Thanks for your kind words. This is a fun way to communicate with readers -- something print doesn't accommodate very well.

    Reply to this
  • 2/17/2009 12:47 AM Jon B wrote:
    As usual, great story, John.
    Reply to this
  • 5/14/2009 1:42 PM Thom Darden wrote:
    Listened to your speech about the lessons learned from Bo.You did a great job!
    Reply to this
    1. 5/15/2009 4:12 PM JUB wrote:
      Assuming this is THE Thom Darden, Bo's All-American defensive back, that is high praise indeed. I suspect his voice is still ringing in your ears.

      Much thanks!

      Reply to this
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