Lytle would have been ‘humbled’ by Hall of Fame honor

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Rob Lytle was all about the team, and he is joining another Tuesday night when he is inducted posthumously into the College Football Hall of Fame.

His son, Kelly Lytle, on Tuesday morning participated in the National Football Foundation news conference in advance of the formal induction Tuesday night of 17 new members of the College Football Hall of Fame, and spoke eloquently on behalf of his late father. The inductees will be introduced Tuesday night at the Waldorf Astoria in New York.

Lytle was 56 when he died of a heart attack in 2010.

“I was thinking what would Dad say if he were up here today,” Kelly Lytle said at the news conference. “First thing is he would have that big sly grin on his face and then he’d look around and say, ‘First, I want to thank my offensive line.’ I think that speaks to so much of who Dad was, why he’s remembered in Michigan lore and now in the College Football Hall of Fame.

“He was a great teammate, he was a beloved teammate. For him, the game of football boiled down to one question — what can I do, what can I sacrifice of myself to make my team better? You think about Dad playing for Bo in the 1970s and of course Bo Schembechler with the team, the team, the team, and Dad embodies that message and it meant to much to him to be part of the team and to play in his mind the greatest team sport there was and that’s the game of football. And so for him now, if he were up here, I can only imagine how humbled and how honored he would be to be part of this team and the team of everyone else who has gone in to the College Football Hall of Fame.”

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Kelly Lytle memorialized his father in a beautifully written honest and poignant book, “To Dad From Kelly”.

He spoke Tuesday of the humbling honor for his father. Rob Lytle participated on two Big Ten championship teams and played in a Rose Bowl. He was a tri-captain of the 1976 team and was the Big Ten’s Player of the Year that season. He finished third that season in Heisman Trophy voting behind Tony Dorsett and Ricky Bell.

“Ultimately, he would probably use the word special,” Kelly Lytle said at the news conference. “It would be special for him to sit up here with so many great — not just great players, but great men and great leaders — and it would be special for him to know and understand exactly what it meant for him to now be honored for playing the game the way he did and to commit himself the way he did to the game of football.”

LSU coach Les Miles was a teammate of Lytle at Michigan. In September during a conference call, Miles told The Detroit News what made Lytle so special a player.

“He was just a tremendous teammate and friend,” Miles said. “A guy that really did all the things that Michigan would stand for. He played hard, played special teams, loved his school.

“It’s just sad. I think about him often. A very special man. He’s missed and he’s certainly missed by a number of men who share the same maize and blue uniform with him because he was special.”

Lytle was a favorite of Schembechler, in part because of his tenacity.

“On that artificial turf they used back then, you could get scraped up pretty easily diving and going all out,” Miles said. “And Lytle was a good-sized scab a good portion of his regular season. Bo loved a guy who would fight you from the first minute to the last, and that was Rob Lytle.”