Could Bo be a Bear?

Sources confirm that Bo Schembechler was in contact with the Chicago Bears on Tuesday evening, just hours after coach Mike Ditka was fired.

The Bears reportedly expressed interest in the possibility of replacing the near-legendary Ditka with Schembechler, who totes his own legendary baggage.

“At the present time, I am not a candidate for the job,” Schembechler said

when reached at his home in Ann Arbor. “But if the Bears are seriously interested in someone like me coaching their team, then I would certainly be interested in talking to them.”

The Bears pose some interesting possibilities for Schembechler. Starting quarterback Jim Harbaugh goes back years with him, from the days when he hung on Schembechler’s coattails while his father, Jack, was a Michigan assistant coach, to the days when Harbaugh starred with the Wolverines.

Also, the Bears and Chicago are used to a high-profile, fiery personality as coach. Compared with Ditka’s recent ravings, Schembechler’s sideline behavior seems almost natural.

“Would I be interested in coaching in the NFL?” Schembechler said recently. “Yes, under certain circumstances.”

At 63, Schembechler would not likely be lured back to a program that required years of rebuilding. He last coached football with the Wolverines in 1989, when they won the Big Ten and went to the Rose Bowl. He then retired after 21 years on the job, because of health reasons and a desire to spend more time with his family.

His brief stint in baseball was a sour experience, and ended with his firing as Tigers president last year. Following the summer’s death of his wife, Millie, to cancer, Schembechler, most recently an analyst for ABC-TV, expressed a rekindled desire to coach, “if the situation were right.”

The Bears are reportedly talking to several candidates, including defensive coordinator Vince Tobin and offensive coordinator Greg Landry. Sources say they would like to have a new coach hired by the end of the month.

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