The college football world was shocked to learn that former Michigan coach and athletic director Bo Schembechler has died on the eve of what ESPN is hyping as the greatest football game ever played in this century or any other. Our condolences go out to his family who are undoubtedly reeling from the sudden loss.
As for ESPN/ABC I am actually cringing to watch how they turn this into some sort of vehicle in an effort to shamelessly exploit the "storyline." I am sure Schembechler will be referred to so many times you will think he is actually playing in the game. The "Michigan is playing for Bo" angle will be relentlessly rammed down our collective throats. Michigan will also now be seen as the sentimental favorite to win the game and despite Ohio State's obvious prowess they are instantly relegated to the role of "spoiler" in the minds of neutral fans. The game, which is about the rivalry and the BCS implications now also becomes Bo Schembechler memorial game. Then again, does anyone really think the Michigan players know or care who Schembechler is outside of him being a Michigan legend? Nevertheless we will be told time and time again what an emotional game this is for Michigan and how the players are jacked up dealing with the loss of a Wolverine legend.
This is, of course, poppycock. The players on both sides are going to be up for this game because of the aforementioned rivalry and BCS implications. If anything, the needless angling in the direction of Schembechler's death will be more of a distraction for the players and I swear if I see one Michigan player interviewed and asked what Bo Schembechler meant to them I think I will absolutely lose it. I do not mind it being mentioned or it even being one of the many backdrops to the game but by no means should it be moved to forefront as a primary impetus for how the game unfolds. And if you visit ESPN.com they have already done exactly that in an effort to draw even more people into watching the game by playing the emotional angle and the senimentality engendered towards Michigan over this untimely death of their most beloved coach.
This is the beast ESPN has become, to hype and manipulate the perception of sporting events out of pure devotion to ratings and profit without any modicum of respect for what is really happening or those who might truly be grieving.