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War as They Knew It: Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler and America in a Time of Unrest

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Award-winning columnist Michael Rosenberg chronicles the days of campus unrest and civil turmoil during the Vietnam War years as seen through the prism of two legendary college football coaches, Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler.


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Award-winning columnist Michael Rosenberg chronicles the days of campus unrest and civil turmoil during the Vietnam War years as seen through the prism of two legendary college football coaches, Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler.

30 review for War as They Knew It: Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler and America in a Time of Unrest

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kathy McC

    Extensive research, unbiased writing, interesting weaving of the history of the greatest college football rivalry and the rivalries dividing the U.S. because of the war in Viet Nam. The details presented about the interworkings of the football programs, as well as those intense football Saturdays in November were fabulous. Rosenberg captured the intensity of Hayes and Schembechler, both as competitors and as friends. Terrific read!!! GO BLUE!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    Rosenberg tracks a decade's span of one of the great college football rivalries from the year that Bo Schembechler became the head coach at Michigan to the attack on an opposing player that cost Woody Hayes his coaching job at Ohio State. The portraits of the coaches are strong, and many of the game passages are intensely dramatic. The contrast between Hayes and Schembechler's old-school mentality and the social upheavals that began with the student protests against Vietnam and spread throughout Rosenberg tracks a decade's span of one of the great college football rivalries from the year that Bo Schembechler became the head coach at Michigan to the attack on an opposing player that cost Woody Hayes his coaching job at Ohio State. The portraits of the coaches are strong, and many of the game passages are intensely dramatic. The contrast between Hayes and Schembechler's old-school mentality and the social upheavals that began with the student protests against Vietnam and spread throughout the '70s are less successful, but they don't distract SO much as to undercut the main story. College football rivalries are all about accumulated history; this book provides a solid context for Michigan/Ohio State. Of course, as a Notre Dame alum, I'm rooting for Ohio State, the whole way.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Benz

    Compelling look at the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry and the men who made it what it is today: Woody Hayes, the old master; Bo Schembechler, the brash protege; and Don Canham, the U-M athletic director who, for better or for worse, proved that college sports could be a big business.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Roger

    For a college football sports fan, this is a good book to read. Chronicles the great era of Woody versus Bo -student versus mentor- in the late 1960s and the 1970s. Great backdrop of the change in college life and athletics in this era. Football players were no longer crew cut short haired do everything coach says to indepenent thinkers with long hair and caught up in the drug culture along with the rest of college students in that era. Both coaches had a hard time adjusting to this change and t For a college football sports fan, this is a good book to read. Chronicles the great era of Woody versus Bo -student versus mentor- in the late 1960s and the 1970s. Great backdrop of the change in college life and athletics in this era. Football players were no longer crew cut short haired do everything coach says to indepenent thinkers with long hair and caught up in the drug culture along with the rest of college students in that era. Both coaches had a hard time adjusting to this change and took a blind eyes to many of wild ways of their student athletes. In today's era of multi million dollar annual salaries for coaches, both men coached for modest amounts and more so with Woody was very frugel. Woody could not keep good assistant coaches because he would not pay them a decent salary. When I was reading this book during the 2008 Presidental campaign,Bill Ayers the 1960s radical played a role. In this book, Ayers is featured as an example of how college students became radical but were still devoted college football fans. I loved the story about Woody being on a recruiting trip in Michigan with a new young assistant coach. The car was running out of gas but Woody refused to let the assistant coach gas up the car in Michigan because he did not want to pay a dime of taxes to the State of Michigan! He was a character who had a big heart and did many quiet things for good in the world and OSU football. Too bad his career had a terrible end and he did not recognize all the changes around him.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

    This book was about some of the topics I love most in life--the late 60s/early 70s; college football; and the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry. Whether you're a U of M or OSU fan (or not), Rosenberg writes a unique book that combines the 10 year War between Bo and Woody with the turbulent times on both campuses during their tenures as coaches. The different campus climates exist now--but the 60s and 70s with the changing face of America just adds to the disparities that exist in Michigan and Ohio toda This book was about some of the topics I love most in life--the late 60s/early 70s; college football; and the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry. Whether you're a U of M or OSU fan (or not), Rosenberg writes a unique book that combines the 10 year War between Bo and Woody with the turbulent times on both campuses during their tenures as coaches. The different campus climates exist now--but the 60s and 70s with the changing face of America just adds to the disparities that exist in Michigan and Ohio today. I loved how Rosenberg touched on each coach's relationship with a sitting President (Nixon for Woody and Ford for Bo) but also spoke of how the 60s Protest Movement and the Vietnam War played out at both schools. But the heart and soul of this book is football. Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes are 2 of the most well known College Football Coaches in history--for good reason. While Rosenberg is a writer for the Detroit Free Press he does attempt to give the readers a good unbiased picture of each of these stalwarts. Both Woody and Bo had their idiosyncracies and reading what their players and fellow assistants had to say about them is just remarkable. As a Wash U alum, I was also pleased to see a short mention of Larry Kindbom, a Hayes assistant who has been the head football coach at Wash U now for a large number of years (I was on campus from 1998-2002 and 2003-2007 and he was the head coach well before my arrival!). Even if you're not a part of the Michigan-OSU rivalry; if you like football, and you like history, it's a facinating read!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ravi

    The book chronicles the "Ten Year War" between Ohio State and Michigan led by Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler from 1968 to 1978. Schembechler was both a player and assistant coach to Hayes and admired him greatly even during the war years. The first half of the book was just as much about the Vietnam War, the counter culture movement, black power and the start of the transition of power from the Greatest Generation to the Baby Boomers than about football. In the second half Rosenberg provides th The book chronicles the "Ten Year War" between Ohio State and Michigan led by Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler from 1968 to 1978. Schembechler was both a player and assistant coach to Hayes and admired him greatly even during the war years. The first half of the book was just as much about the Vietnam War, the counter culture movement, black power and the start of the transition of power from the Greatest Generation to the Baby Boomers than about football. In the second half Rosenberg provides this as a backdrop to the changes taking place on the field as well where Ohio State, Michigan and The Big Ten held on to old time power running football while the West Coast teams moved onto a pass first game. During the Ten Year War both teams were beaten in the Bowl games by the West Coast teams on a regular basis. Woody Hayes is the most interesting part of the book. The stereotype of a preeminent college football coach falls flat when it comes to Hayes. He quotes Emerson, he reads clippings on foreign policy and world affairs on a daily basis, he quizzes and lectures his coaches on the current events, and he tries to convince his best players to pursue law school or business school rather than the NFL. Then he goes out on game day and punches a camera man, sometimes a player and destroys first down markers. Complex characters always make for an interesting read and Woody Hayes fits that well.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    This book tells the story of Ohio State and Michigan’s “Ten Year War” from 1968-1978. The book doesn’t stick to strictly football. It manages to put Woody and Bo fight in a historical perspective. I enjoyed reading about the social climates of each university from 1968's rebellions, to the beginnings of the "me first" mentality on the football field in 1978. I think the book was fair to both sides. Woody had decades of success with his system. Unfortunately, by the mid-1970's the system just wou This book tells the story of Ohio State and Michigan’s “Ten Year War” from 1968-1978. The book doesn’t stick to strictly football. It manages to put Woody and Bo fight in a historical perspective. I enjoyed reading about the social climates of each university from 1968's rebellions, to the beginnings of the "me first" mentality on the football field in 1978. I think the book was fair to both sides. Woody had decades of success with his system. Unfortunately, by the mid-1970's the system just wouldn't work anymore. Bo Schembechler's success was nothing short of amazing, and so was his inability to beat Ohio State (or anyone in a Bowl game.) The book analyzes each side and gets plenty of details from people around the two teams. One surprise for me is how integral Dan Canham, Michigan’s athletic director, was to the Ohio State/Michigan rivalry, and the success of college football nationwide. He almost single-handedly took an empty Michigan stadium and filled it to capacity for 30+ years. And he literally started the business of college merchandising everything from T-Shirts to toilet paper. Although personally I despise Michigan and everything it stands for, I came away with a positive view of Mr. Canham. He was clearly ahead of his time. I love Woody Hayes. I hate Michigan and the Wolverines. Books like these are some of my favorite reads.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bernadette

    I never thought I'd enjoy a book about football but this one kept me reading with pleasure. Michael Rosenberg, sports columnist, delves into the rivalry and friendship between legendary football coaches Woody Hayes of Ohio State and Bo Schembechler of University of Michigan. Rosenberg tells the football story within the political/cultural context of the late 1960s and early 70s. I was a grad student at U of M from 1968-70 and it was fun to relive some of these times of protest along with the exc I never thought I'd enjoy a book about football but this one kept me reading with pleasure. Michael Rosenberg, sports columnist, delves into the rivalry and friendship between legendary football coaches Woody Hayes of Ohio State and Bo Schembechler of University of Michigan. Rosenberg tells the football story within the political/cultural context of the late 1960s and early 70s. I was a grad student at U of M from 1968-70 and it was fun to relive some of these times of protest along with the excitement and drama of the football scene. The most surprising aspect of the book to me was learning that Woody Hayes was a teacher first, a scholar of military history and philosophy, who loved discussing topics with other professors at the Faculty Club. He was never in coaching for the money; did not cash checks earned for speeches, often walked to work and maintained a small, spartan office. His hero was Ralph Waldo Emerson. Hayes had his outbursts and strong opinions but Rosenberg gets to the other side of Woody, a side that Bo Schembechler also discovered in later years. A fascinating read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Splenda

    Most reviews of this book are horrible...and I suspect the reason for that is because most of those reviews were written by die hard fans of both schools. However, I'm here to tell you that this book takes an honest look at two men who were extremely old-school for the times in which they coached. It's amazing to me that both men succeeded as well as they did given the tumultuous times of the 60s and 70s. It is almost certain that both men would not survive in today's game because their notion o Most reviews of this book are horrible...and I suspect the reason for that is because most of those reviews were written by die hard fans of both schools. However, I'm here to tell you that this book takes an honest look at two men who were extremely old-school for the times in which they coached. It's amazing to me that both men succeeded as well as they did given the tumultuous times of the 60s and 70s. It is almost certain that both men would not survive in today's game because their notion of how ideals and America should be would never gain any support today. The strength of this book lies in giving the reader some background information about what was going on at both campuses during the time period...not just the football games. It is a great addition to books about college football, and specifically about the Ten Year War between Woddy and Bo.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    When I got this book, I was a little worried that there would be too much about current events of the day, and therefore forced connections between football and the culture of the times. Thankfully, (SPOILER ALERT!) the book was mostly about football and the two men who made the best rivalry in sports what it is today, with little snapshots of the turbulent times thrown in for effect. This was an good book that told a lot of behind-the-scenes stories, and cut through a lot of the sensationalism When I got this book, I was a little worried that there would be too much about current events of the day, and therefore forced connections between football and the culture of the times. Thankfully, (SPOILER ALERT!) the book was mostly about football and the two men who made the best rivalry in sports what it is today, with little snapshots of the turbulent times thrown in for effect. This was an good book that told a lot of behind-the-scenes stories, and cut through a lot of the sensationalism in other accounts of the rivalry (ie the HBO documentary which is fantastic but, well, HBO), and it's a nice compliment to any Michigan or OSU fan's disdain for the other. Especially if you're a Wolverine...why did OSU let that crazy old man stay on the sidelines for so long anyway???

  11. 4 out of 5

    John Eisenberg

    original, well-researched, nicely written book

  12. 5 out of 5

    John Johnson

    This is a story of the rivalry between Woody Hayes' football team at the Ohio State University and the football team of Bo Schembechler at the University of Michigan from 1969 until the end of the 1970s. It is a great story about Woody Hayes as a coach and a teacher and about his protege Bo Schembechler who became a great coach for the Wolverines. Rosenberg does tell more personal information about Coach Hayes, how he cared about his players receiving an education more than he cared about them c This is a story of the rivalry between Woody Hayes' football team at the Ohio State University and the football team of Bo Schembechler at the University of Michigan from 1969 until the end of the 1970s. It is a great story about Woody Hayes as a coach and a teacher and about his protege Bo Schembechler who became a great coach for the Wolverines. Rosenberg does tell more personal information about Coach Hayes, how he cared about his players receiving an education more than he cared about them continuing their football careers into the NFL, and how he used football to teach about history, than he does about Coach Schembechler, other than he was a hothead, or at least acted the part in front of his team. I found the story very interesting and well written, but truth be told, I'm not a fan of either the Ohio State University or the University of Michigan, so I don't think I am the intended audience. I have known about Woody Hayes for many years. He was a legendary coach. But I actually was not familiar with Bo Schembechler at all before reading the book. That surprises me now, knowing he had his team in contention for the national championship almost every season he coached them. The truth is this wasn't my book; it belonged to my father, who was born and raised in Michigan and a lifelong Wolverine fan. It was a good read, and I believe any fan of college football would enjoy it. Any fan of the Ohio State University or the University of Michigan might enjoy it more.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Andy Reeder

    As a huge fan of Michigan sports, my uncle recommended this book to me. I have read a couple of books about Bo but had not read a book specifically about the 10 year war. Fans of either school would appreciate this read as it delves into the history and character of two of the most influential coaches in all of sports. What really makes this book stand out though is the link to what the country was going through at the time politically and culturally while these two titan programs clashed with e As a huge fan of Michigan sports, my uncle recommended this book to me. I have read a couple of books about Bo but had not read a book specifically about the 10 year war. Fans of either school would appreciate this read as it delves into the history and character of two of the most influential coaches in all of sports. What really makes this book stand out though is the link to what the country was going through at the time politically and culturally while these two titan programs clashed with each other over this ten year period. He relates and contrasts the football programs with what was going on at the campuses with student unrest and political demonstrating. It’s not just a picture of an iconic time in American sports, but also a cultural history of a turbulent decade in American history. It’s a great read for sports fans, specifically Big Ten sports fans, and I appreciate my uncle making the recommendation. Thanks Uncle Dale!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Russ Bertetta

    I really enjoyed this book much more than I thought I might. Being in college at the start of this book and being a football fan throughout this era, I could remember a lot of games, players, etc. from the book. I thought the author did a great job of mixing the socio-political ethos of the times into the football story because that was the era in which we lived. You could go to an anti-war demonstration one day and watch a game later the next. Wasn't really a fan of either Woody or Bo, but I di I really enjoyed this book much more than I thought I might. Being in college at the start of this book and being a football fan throughout this era, I could remember a lot of games, players, etc. from the book. I thought the author did a great job of mixing the socio-political ethos of the times into the football story because that was the era in which we lived. You could go to an anti-war demonstration one day and watch a game later the next. Wasn't really a fan of either Woody or Bo, but I did come to understand them a bit more by the end of the book-even kind of liked Bo. One small complaint was that a few of the chapters were a bit formulaic but all in all a good book for the fb fan of a certain vintage. Much better than my last book-Big Game.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Brett Van Gaasbeek

    This book is for the die-hard fan of either OSU or Michigan who wishes to learn more about the epic showdown between Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler during the late-1960s and 1970s. This book shows the backstory, the intricate details of the men and their teams, and the background events of the time period. It weaves the history and the rivalry so well that any fan will be engrossed in the recaps of the seasons and the games, even if they already know the results. The book humanizes two of the m This book is for the die-hard fan of either OSU or Michigan who wishes to learn more about the epic showdown between Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler during the late-1960s and 1970s. This book shows the backstory, the intricate details of the men and their teams, and the background events of the time period. It weaves the history and the rivalry so well that any fan will be engrossed in the recaps of the seasons and the games, even if they already know the results. The book humanizes two of the most iconic coaches in NCAA Football history and gives great perspective on their careers. The casual fan may still find this interesting, but the overall content and writing is for those who are genuinely interested in the "10 Year War" between these storied programs.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    A compelling account of a decade of two of college football's greatest coaches squaring off against one another. The book sets the Woody Hayes vs. Bo Schembechler era against the backdrop of a turbulent time in U.S. history in interesting and unexpected ways. This is a book I'd recommend to any fan of college football or anyone with a passing interest in history.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tim Blackburn

    Great Book Loved this book and highly recommend it. Remember as a kid in the south eagerly waiting for the OSU-Mich match up every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This book took me behind the scenes in marvelous and engrossing detail. So glad I came across this book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Edward Benyas

    Outstanding history of Bo, Woody and upheaval on both campuses.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Stuart Nachbar

    Michael Rosenberg’s War as They Knew It is a story where the ten year rivalry between two of college football’s greatest coaches is weaved into a chronicle of campus unrest during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. This is the story of the end of the era of football coach as campus authority figure as well as the beginning of two new eras, the era of college athletics as big business and the era of students as consumers of a college education. Both of those eras continue well into today. College Michael Rosenberg’s War as They Knew It is a story where the ten year rivalry between two of college football’s greatest coaches is weaved into a chronicle of campus unrest during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. This is the story of the end of the era of football coach as campus authority figure as well as the beginning of two new eras, the era of college athletics as big business and the era of students as consumers of a college education. Both of those eras continue well into today. College football is more about money than ever, while administrators have gone to greater lengths to build more comfortable non-academic facilities for their students and given them more involvement in campus governance. War as They Knew It is not a game-by-game recollection or a glorification of a long-standing sports rivalry. It is a story that sets two coaches, friends in their own generation gap, against the student politics of the times. While both men attracted some of the best athletes to their campuses, more and more of those athletes became interested in the world around them, quite possibly because there was the fear of going to a real war after their playing career was over. The idea for the title of the story comes from the military memoir of General George S. Patton, War as I Knew It. This was an appropriate choice. Patton was the hero of former Ohio State coach Woody Hayes, who had even modeled running plays based on military formations. A five-time national champion, Hayes was the “old school,” the football coach as authority figure, not only to his players, but also the university at large. However, while his football teams were among the best of their day, the idea of Hayes as a university icon eventually came to an end. While he was bothered about student attitudes towards the military and country, Hayes could not control student behavior beyond the members of his football team; in the past he could enroll them in ROTC without their permission. War as They Knew It showed Hayes to be a complex character. While Hayes has been cast as a crusty curmudgeon, he was also a man of kindness. During the 1950’s, when the university did not award football scholarships, Hayes not only recruited black players; he also made small loans to help them to complete their education. He regularly told his players to consider law and medical school, even going to the point of forcing an assistant coach to pursue a law degree to remain on staff. Hayes considered himself an educator first, refusing to accept a salary higher than a tenured professor. As a result, Hayes was one of the two lowest paid coaches in the Big Ten, even though the conference was really the Big Two: Ohio State and Michigan. But Hayes also had the shortest fuse, and that became his undoing. Bo Schembechler, Hayes counterpart at Michigan, was also one of Hayes’ best friends. A former Hayes assistant at Miami of Ohio, as well as Ohio State, Schembechler coached at, and I quote the book, the Public Ivy of the Big Ten. The university’s campus hosted the Students for a Democratic Society, the leading student activists of the sixties, as well as members of its more militant splinter group, the Weatherman. At the beginning of Schembechler’s tenure at Michigan, the team had played in a 100,000+ seat stadium that was one-third empty on football Saturdays. While Schembechler was bothered by the student attitudes of the times, he was disinterested in politics and distasted the drug culture. However, he never made his feelings public, as Hayes did. He didn’t interact with the university world outside of football until he became the university’s athletic director. By then Michigan had turned its football program, its stadium, and associated licensing fees, into profit centers. Though Schembechler had an honorable, but undistinguished military career, he became quite bothered when students burned their draft cards on the big M in his Big House, though he, like Hayes, had no control over events outside football. Within those walls he was a strict disciplinarian who also wanted his players where he could keep an eye on them. He forced them to live on-campus or in married student housing; before then players had commuted to practice from as far as Ypsilanti. This was surprising, since he did not want them caught up in the counterculture that had pervaded on campus. If you’re a student of modern American history, War as They Knew It is an excellent read. You don’t need to be a football fan to appreciate it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Drew

    I've read a lot of biographies over the years, and a lot of non-fiction books about my particular cultural talismans: underground music, unashamedly liberal politics, and football. This book is about the latter, and I haven't read as many football books as I have read books about the other two things I mentioned. I'm particularly green in the area of college football, which I didn't really follow at all until 5 or so years ago. Therefore, a book about Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler, coaches for I've read a lot of biographies over the years, and a lot of non-fiction books about my particular cultural talismans: underground music, unashamedly liberal politics, and football. This book is about the latter, and I haven't read as many football books as I have read books about the other two things I mentioned. I'm particularly green in the area of college football, which I didn't really follow at all until 5 or so years ago. Therefore, a book about Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler, coaches for Ohio State and Michigan, respectively, and about their ten-year rivalry between 1968 and 1978, is going to cover a subject I don't know very well. I certainly learned a lot from it, and I did enjoy it at least intermittently. However, I'd be lying if I said that "War As They Knew It" gave me everything I'd wanted and expected from it. Some football books that I've read over the years have captured my imagination and brought me back to them over and over (here let me give a shoutout to "America's Game" by Michael MacCambridge and "The New Thinking Man's Guide To Pro Football" by Paul Zimmerman--the latter was my favorite book when I was 11 years old), but I don't think "War As They Knew It" will be one of them. My relative unfamiliarity with Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler may be one reason why, but honestly, I think Michael Rosenberg's writing left a bit to be desired in terms of being engaging. Also, at times, I felt like he was leaving rich territory unexplored. There was some discussion in the book of the radical political environment that Ann Arbor, Michigan, constituted in the late 60s, and even a bit of focus on John Sinclair and the currently-noteworthy Bill Ayers. However, if the book was really going to go into depth where the connection between the football rivalries of the time and the concurrent political climate on college campuses was concerned, it needed to do a bit more than it did. Really, though, I may be being too harsh. As a book about Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, the way they ran their football teams, and the storied rivalry between the two of them and their two programs, "War As They Knew It" delivers. I enjoyed the blow-by-blow accounts of the games between the two teams in each year, and the in-depth discussion of the players who had important roles in one or more games. In particular, I was touched by the story of Michigan placekicker Mike Lantry, a Vietnam veteran who walked onto the Michigan team in his freshman year and earned a starting position, only to miss a crucial field goal to lose the 1974 Ohio State/Michigan game for the Wolverines. The crushing defeat, which was broadcast on national television, was the end of his college football career, and his solitary walk to the sideline after the kick, caught on camera, became a symbol to thousands all over the country. The author reprints sections from many of the letters that Lantry received after the game, and as someone who has struggled through some pretty tough times in my life (as we all have at one point or another), I could see exactly what so many related to in Lantry's experience. The author brought this moment to life for me, and this might have been my favorite section of the entire book. I also appreciated the deep insight into the personal philosophies of Hayes and Schembechler, though. I found Hayes in particular to be fascinating, even though I disagree with many of his views about life, deriving as many of them do from a relentlessly military-oriented outlook. Hayes was a big Ralph Waldo Emerson fan, and many of the Emerson quotes scattered throughout the text were just as disturbing to me as Hayes's conservative political views, when they were discussed. Schembechler was not quite as doctrinaire as Hayes, but certainly as conservative. The author discussed these views without commenting on whether or not he agreed with them, and kept things relatively even by sometimes discussing the politics of John Sinclair or Bill Ayers in an equally non-judgmental light. Nonetheless, one of the biggest impressions I came away from this book with was the idea that I'd never want to discuss politics with either Hayes or Schembechler. That said, I respect both of them as leaders in the sport of football, and I hope to someday get a chance to check out some of the archival footage of their coaching days. I think I might end up finding that stuff more interesting than this book, which was a decent read on the whole, but just not quite what I wanted from it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brian DiMattia

    This is a book with terrific intentions, but despite Michael Rosenberg's efforts it never manages to be more than the sum of its parts. It ends up as a straight forward history with a few interesting characters and anecdotes, and can't quite live up to its own ambitions. The idea behind the book seemed an interesting one, consider the infamous rivalry and friendship between two legendary college coaches, Ohio State's Woody Hayes and the University of Michigan's Bo Schembechler, but consider it in This is a book with terrific intentions, but despite Michael Rosenberg's efforts it never manages to be more than the sum of its parts. It ends up as a straight forward history with a few interesting characters and anecdotes, and can't quite live up to its own ambitions. The idea behind the book seemed an interesting one, consider the infamous rivalry and friendship between two legendary college coaches, Ohio State's Woody Hayes and the University of Michigan's Bo Schembechler, but consider it in terms of how these men were impacted by the social upheaval of Vietnam, Race debates, the counter culture and other major movements of the 1960s. Unfortunately, the idea doesn't amount to much. According to the book, the coaches were mostly isolated from this disorder for the first few years, with Schembechler barely noticing it and with Hayes looking at the disturbances as just one of a seemingly endless list of things that were wrong with the new direction of America. There is a portion of the book where they confront these things directly, but since the careers of these coaches lasted through the 1970s (and 80s for Bo), the Vietnam era protest culture peters out early on. The other problem is a lack of balance in personalities. Having already read Schembechler's autobiography, "Bo," I previously knew the man to be a great coach and a terrific mind, not only for football but all sports. But that's about as far as his personality seems to go, leaving him well overshadowed by the far more colorful Hayes with his constant quoting of Emerson, his fascinating assessment of football in comparison to military strategy, and his socio-political views which then would have been called "Conservative," but now would sink to the level of "Archaic." There are many good things to be said for this book, though. It tries to paint a balanced portrait of Hayes by softening his ultra-authoritarian views with his love of education. But his insistence that the only worthwhile education involves certain readings, certain interpretations of those readings, and, of course, law school, leaves him seeming more of a self-important autocrat than ever. What does help is the love Hayes's former players all have for him. And no matter what you think of Hayes and his delusions about the world, his misogyny, and his disgust for individualism, it's very difficult to not feel for him at the end of his career when even football passes him by. "War As They Knew It" also has a hidden strength, in the introduction of a third figure who may have been more of a genius in his field than either of the two coaches. While the world is fighting it's wars, and Woody and Bo are fighting theirs, Michigan Athletic Director Don Canham was quietly revolutionizing college sports. He took an institution that was sinking into irrelevancy and turned it into a huge money maker. He developed new relationships between college and pro football, perfected ways of dealing with local and national sports media, even developed the concept of selling merchandise to fans with a school logo on it. Possibly the biggest "Wow" moment of the book is when Canham designs the iconic Michican "M" logo at his dining room table. Canham's impact on the game, for better or worse, seems to have been bigger and longer lasting than the far more famous men the book is inspired by.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kiah

    Back to the sports writing! A really well-written narrative history of the true beginnings of the Best Rivalry In Sports, Michigan vs. Ohio State football. Rosenberg did extensive research and conducted a myriad of interviews for the book, and it shows. There's a wealth of information to put Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes into appropriate historical contexts with regard to football, their respective universities, and politics. Reading about the Michigan-Ohio State games reads as if you're glued Back to the sports writing! A really well-written narrative history of the true beginnings of the Best Rivalry In Sports, Michigan vs. Ohio State football. Rosenberg did extensive research and conducted a myriad of interviews for the book, and it shows. There's a wealth of information to put Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes into appropriate historical contexts with regard to football, their respective universities, and politics. Reading about the Michigan-Ohio State games reads as if you're glued to the edge of your seat in The Big House - so vivid - Rosenberg will make you feel like you're there. The era in which Schembechler and Hayes brought the programs at UM and OSU, respectively, to real prominence was also a time when American was in a time of political upheaval, Ann Arbor, MI was a hotbed for progressive protests, and UM's Athletic Director, Don Canham, was changing the face of college sports by using a logo (that sacred block "M") on products that fans could buy, nevermind finding a way to fill the largest college football stadium in the country game after game. It really was a revolutionary time in both American politics and American college sports, and this book does a great job capturing all of that. Glory, and GO BLUE!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nick West

    Michael Rosenberg's "War As They Knew It" is not just a book about football. It's also a story of leadership, sociological shifts in middle America, and the evolution of higher education and its ties to scholarship athletics. While Big Ten fans are probably the target audience of this work, I myself am not especially fond of either Michigan or Ohio State. I turn on the Big Ten Network maybe once a year, and I haven't watched more than 15 minutes of a Wolverine/Buckeye game in years. I am, howeve Michael Rosenberg's "War As They Knew It" is not just a book about football. It's also a story of leadership, sociological shifts in middle America, and the evolution of higher education and its ties to scholarship athletics. While Big Ten fans are probably the target audience of this work, I myself am not especially fond of either Michigan or Ohio State. I turn on the Big Ten Network maybe once a year, and I haven't watched more than 15 minutes of a Wolverine/Buckeye game in years. I am, however, a massive college football fan, and this peek into the history of one of the best rivalries in the sport has given me a knew appreciation for its history, its passion, and its relevance on the national landscape. Furthermore, I now know more about Woody Hayes than just remembering him as the coach who punched a player from the opposing team during a game. (Though certainly he is that guy, as well.) Recommended for anyone who grew up in the American rust belt in the 1960s or 70s, as well as anyone who just loves college football.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Scott Martin

    This was a good a sports book as I have ever read. While not a major fan of Michigan or Ohio State, it was facsinating to read about one of the greatest rivalries in sports, especially during the heyday of the Woody Hayes/Bo Schembechler matchups. Rosenberg does a good job of mixing sports, personalities and politics into his narrative. It gave a Penn State fan a very good perspective on what help evolve this rivalry into the status it holds now. It also brought some insight on the men involved. This was a good a sports book as I have ever read. While not a major fan of Michigan or Ohio State, it was facsinating to read about one of the greatest rivalries in sports, especially during the heyday of the Woody Hayes/Bo Schembechler matchups. Rosenberg does a good job of mixing sports, personalities and politics into his narrative. It gave a Penn State fan a very good perspective on what help evolve this rivalry into the status it holds now. It also brought some insight on the men involved. I had always heard the names of Hayes and Schembechler, but this book opened an insight to how each man lived and what the legends got right and wrong. In addition to the sports, Rosenberg does a good job of integrating the political situation of America (late Vietnam/Watergate/Ford-Carter years) into his narrative. Bottom Line: While it helps to be a college football fan to read this, it is a good read for all who want insight into a unique time in American history

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dennis D.

    This non-fiction account of ‘The Ten Year War’ of Bo Schembechler and the University of Michigan Wolverines versus Woody Hayes and his Ohio State henchmen is set against the back-drop of the societal change and political upheaval. If you’re not a football fan, you might not enjoy this book as much as some of its readers have suggested you would. The secondary part of the narrative is just a back-drop. And since this account unfolds a year at a time, most of the major dissonance between society at This non-fiction account of ‘The Ten Year War’ of Bo Schembechler and the University of Michigan Wolverines versus Woody Hayes and his Ohio State henchmen is set against the back-drop of the societal change and political upheaval. If you’re not a football fan, you might not enjoy this book as much as some of its readers have suggested you would. The secondary part of the narrative is just a back-drop. And since this account unfolds a year at a time, most of the major dissonance between society at large and the smaller world of the gridiron has dissipated by 1971 or so, with still about three-quarters of the book remaining. Disclaimer: there are other biographies and autobiographies of both principals, other accounts of both college programs and even books on the ten-year-war itself that I have not read, so I cannot say how this might compare.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Derek Bycraft

    Don't be fooled! There are harsh reviews of this book all over the internet, but they have nothing to do with the actual book. They are mostly caused by angry Michigan fans who believe the author single-handedly tried to destroy Michigan football under Rich Rodriguez. The book itself is great. This isn't simply a book about Woody and Bo; it is a book about what was going on with both Ann Arbor and Columbus during their own war. If you expect to get insider information about what went on all the Don't be fooled! There are harsh reviews of this book all over the internet, but they have nothing to do with the actual book. They are mostly caused by angry Michigan fans who believe the author single-handedly tried to destroy Michigan football under Rich Rodriguez. The book itself is great. This isn't simply a book about Woody and Bo; it is a book about what was going on with both Ann Arbor and Columbus during their own war. If you expect to get insider information about what went on all the time between the two coaches, this book will disappoint you. It covers the social unrest, as well as many people who have nothing to do with the football teams at either Michigan or Ohio State, and the interactions the coaches had during the time period. A great read for anyone who likes historical pieces about our country.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Like a number of sport books I've read recently (Halberstam's Education of a Coach, Bryant's The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron, Flemming's Breaker Boys: The NFL's Greatest Team and the Stolen 1925 Championship and Davis' Papa Bear: The Life And Legacy Of George Halas)the author interweaves the historical, political and social forces that are integral to the narrative...having played in that era (Western Illinois University), it certainly is an accurate presentation of the outside forces influ Like a number of sport books I've read recently (Halberstam's Education of a Coach, Bryant's The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron, Flemming's Breaker Boys: The NFL's Greatest Team and the Stolen 1925 Championship and Davis' Papa Bear: The Life And Legacy Of George Halas)the author interweaves the historical, political and social forces that are integral to the narrative...having played in that era (Western Illinois University), it certainly is an accurate presentation of the outside forces influencing the college game at that time...it was fun to go back to that time!!!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Evan Hansen

    One of the best "quick reads" I've come across in some time. It was clearly written with an eye toward accessability, but the historical narrative is captivating. I've always respected Woody Hayes as, to quote Schembechler from one tale in the book, "a nemesis," but the detail Rosenberg manages to capture really let me appreciate his dedication, passion, intelligence, et cetera. Any fan of sports, especially college football, Ohio State, and/or Michigan, really ought to read this. For what it is One of the best "quick reads" I've come across in some time. It was clearly written with an eye toward accessability, but the historical narrative is captivating. I've always respected Woody Hayes as, to quote Schembechler from one tale in the book, "a nemesis," but the detail Rosenberg manages to capture really let me appreciate his dedication, passion, intelligence, et cetera. Any fan of sports, especially college football, Ohio State, and/or Michigan, really ought to read this. For what it is, it's absolutely wonderful fun.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    The America at a time of unrest angle I found very uninteresting. There are far better accounts of student protests during the 60's and 70's. Michael Rosenberg is a sports writer and good one and his accounts of the personalities, practices, and games coached by these two men are sound. The Patonesque Hayes with his stress on education first and foremost is remarkable. His response to an African American militant student listing atrocities committed by whites: "I've been putting black kids throu The America at a time of unrest angle I found very uninteresting. There are far better accounts of student protests during the 60's and 70's. Michael Rosenberg is a sports writer and good one and his accounts of the personalities, practices, and games coached by these two men are sound. The Patonesque Hayes with his stress on education first and foremost is remarkable. His response to an African American militant student listing atrocities committed by whites: "I've been putting black kids through college since before you were born!"

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    While I can't recommend this for everyone, for a U of Michigan 1970 graduate and child of the 60's, this book was a fun read. Centered on the coaching careers of Bo Schembechler (Michigan football) and Woody Hayes (Ohio State football), the book also winds through the turbulence of the campuses (and the country) in the late 1960s and early 1970s, played out through the annual football battles that determined some national championships and remained the strongest ties that many of us had to being While I can't recommend this for everyone, for a U of Michigan 1970 graduate and child of the 60's, this book was a fun read. Centered on the coaching careers of Bo Schembechler (Michigan football) and Woody Hayes (Ohio State football), the book also winds through the turbulence of the campuses (and the country) in the late 1960s and early 1970s, played out through the annual football battles that determined some national championships and remained the strongest ties that many of us had to being in college. For my Michigan friends, a must read, thanks to Jim Sandler's recommendation!

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