The Wolverine

December 2020

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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6 THE WOLVERINE DECEMBER 2020 T hirty-two seasons. That's how many Michi- gan football campaigns this publication has chroni- cled, following its inception in the wake of U-M's basket- ball national championship in the spring of 1989. This column rolled into its 30th year of capturing the Wolverines' triumphs and travails. In the days leading to this issue, we experienced a stark reminder of both. Jim Harbaugh's football team made desperately un- wanted history in its 49-11 home loss to Wisconsin. The Wolverines hadn't been ham- mered at Michigan Stadium by so great a margin since 1935, when Ohio State took them down, 38-0. The 28-0 halftime deficit marked the worst for the Wolverines in the history of Michigan Stadium. U-M's 1-3 start represents its poorest since 1928, right before another big crash. Harbaugh didn't talk about teeter- ing on the verge of game successes this time. He knows his roster has been ravaged by the preseason loss of its best receiver and cornerback, and in-season injury wipeouts of his hugely hyped defensive ends and starting offensive tackles. Next man up, they say. This has been next man down. So Harbaugh sugar-coated nothing. "We were thoroughly beaten in every phase," Harbaugh said. "We didn't really do anything well. We did not play good, did not coach good. We're not in a good place with the execution, not in a good place ad- justing what we were doing schemat- ically. Not a good place as a football team right now, and that falls on me. "We've got to get after really go- ing back to basics in everything we do, look at everything we're doing. Everybody. Everybody's got to do better, and as I said, I'm at the front of the line in accountability." Somewhere, deep in the Florida Keys, Steve Everitt quietly shook his head in frustrated amazement. The former Michigan center (1988-92) owns five Big Ten champi- onship rings. He never lost to Ohio State, not once. In fact, bring up Mich- igan's 13-13 tie with the Buckeyes in his senior year, and he doesn't even try to hide his disdain for the team his own dominated in those days. "We tied them my senior year, and they celebrated on the field like they beat us, after sitting on the ball," Everitt recalled. "That was pretty embarrassing, I thought. Typ- ical Ohio State, back then. Highly touted, and then we would bring their season to a crushing end. I never had any doubt we would de- molish them. And we did." How times have changed. Everitt spoke expansively for the "Where Are They Now" feature in this issue (pages 67-69). He spoke about his shattered fingertips at Michigan, his broken foot, the frac- tured jaw against Notre Dame that felt like "a bag of rocks" as they rushed him to the hospital. Even his mom, Barb Everitt, showed her toughness that day, fighting through Michigan Stadium security to reach the ambulance in The Big House tunnel. "She was yelling," Everitt recalled. "Nobody could get an IV into my arm, because I was so de- hydrated, I didn't have any veins. My mom is just yelling at the lady trying to do it, and I'm like, 'Chill out, mom! They let you in the ambulance. Just be happy with that.'" Michigan wasn't happy with anything but dominating op- ponents back then. It routinely ran over the opposition like Wisconsin ran over the Wol- verines before a home crowd estimated at 605 in 2020. Along the way, the early '90s Wolverines reduced opposing defensive lines to tears. "We would treat guys the way they deserved to be treated," Everitt offered. "You can beat up a guy during a game and not take his soul from him, and make him cry. But there were guys — and it wasn't just Michigan State guys, because they were the worst. "There were multiple occasions. There was a guy from Northwestern who was sobbing, just hyperven- tilating, on the field, crying like a baby. Hilarious. "But we wouldn't start it. We would finish it, but we wouldn't start it." Over the course of his career, Everitt never tasted defeat in a Big Ten game he started. Michigan's present crew stands at three Big Ten losses this year, and counting. They're frustrated. They're mis- erable. They're agonizing over the precipitous decline in a season they so desperately hoped would be played. Now, it feels more like punish- ment than paradise. Now, the Wol- verines are scrambling for answers, and championships are nowhere in sight. Everitt and his linemates sigh and shrug. They await a return to what they knew, and wonder if it will ever come. ❏ WOLVERINE WATCH   JOHN BORTON Flashback Is Sobering Measuring Stick Jim Harbaugh's Wolverines were 1-3 after their first four games, the worst start by a Michigan team since 1928. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN Editor John Borton has been with The Wolverine since 1991. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @JB_Wolverine.

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