I’ve mentioned before that I attended the 1969 Michigan victory over OSU. Being in the stands that day, getting to rush the field and take down the goal posts, is my personal Wolverine football landmark. I know. Who cares? You are absolutely right. However, in the stands for that game, in the stands for the first time ever, was a high school senior who did matter. He was sitting next to his sister. He’s five foot, nine inches—maybe—and 170 pounds. Michigan boy. Decided at that very game he wanted to be a Michigan Wolverine. Offensive lineman. Walk on.
“….don’t let anyone talk you out of it.”
Donnie Warner, who didn’t even know how to pronounce Bo’s last name, had just sprung a trap on Old Blood & Guts. Quoted a speech Bo gave at his high school about never giving up. Told him about attending “The Game” last fall. “He had me, and he knew it.” Bo was in full retreat.
Donnie sacrificed for the team and switched from offensive guard to defensive tackle. He was not afraid of Reggie McKenzie and Tom Coyle. Bo played on the demo team that year and watched him get knocked around like a “volleyball”. Donnie endeavored to persevere.
By his junior year Donnie was quickly becoming quite a pest for Bo’s offense and was not shy about celebrating his victories on the field. Bo fretted over his offensive line. “For cryin’ out loud, if we can’t stop little Donnie Warner from breaking up our plays, how in the hell are we going to stop Purdue?”
By his senior year Donnie was on full scholarship and starting. Try as he might, Bo simply couldn’t find anyone to beat him out. Donnie started calling him “Bo” and advised him how to beat OSU that year—and was right. The 1973 team is the one that got ganked, so Donnie Warner smelled no Roses in his final year at Michigan, which is a shame. Bo described him as the greatest player he ever coached. Wow. Just think of all the names on THAT list and Donnie Warner is on TOP!
And just think, it all started with the last game of the season in 1969 versus OSU. Just sayin’. There’s magic in that game. And, uh, thank you Donnie Warner’s sister.
If you haven’t already read “Bo’s Lasting Lessons”, by John U. Bacon (pg. 142-150), do so now. That is where this entire story comes from. Turn off your computer, run to the book store, don’t walk, and get this book. Why are you still sitting there! Go!