The Wolverine

October 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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8 THE WOLVERINE OCTOBER 2022 T he United Kingdom features a new king, accorded all the cer- emony and pageantry accompa- nying such a position. That one pales in comparison to the new king of Michigan football, in The Big House and beyond. J.J. McCarthy's surge to the most her- alded position in U-M athletics took September by storm. Fans of the Wol- verines were riveted to every move of the strong-armed, fleet-footed sopho- more, whom Michigan radio play-by- play man Doug Karsch dubbed "the most Drew Henson-like quarterback in Michigan football since Drew Henson." McCarthy rampaged through Michi- gan's tough-as-wet-Kleenex noncon- ference schedule with an unfathomable and unsustainable 88.3 completion per- centage. It's about to get a lot tougher, but the new kid on the block M and his receivers aren't backing down from any challenge. "He adds such a dynamic to this of- fense," Michigan radio analyst Jon Jansen pointed out. "From a defensive coordinator's perspective, you want to know what is going to be happening to you and where you're most vulnerable. "J.J. puts defenses in extreme con- flict. You'd like to add an extra guy in the box to handle the read option, maybe help with the RPOs. If you do that, now you leave yourself open downfield. You've got a bunch of talented receiv- ers, and you've got a quarterback who can make every throw on the field. "You've got to decide, what do you want to do with that extra guy? Drop him into coverage, to make things a little harder to defeat J.J., or maybe have him up, spying J.J. and trying to defend the run? That's the conflict J.J. creates for defensive coordinators." Jansen, a Michigan All-American, two-time captain and 11-year NFL vet- eran, has seen plenty of quarterbacks come and go. This one, he readily ad- mits, is special. "He can be as good as Michigan has ever had," Jansen insisted. "I don't pre- dict that this is the year he's the best quarterback Michigan has ever seen. But when you have ability to throw the ball like he can, and you have the abil- ity to extend plays in the backfield, the ability to run and escape the pocket and pick up yardage with your feet, you'd be hard-pressed to find another quarter- back that has played at Michigan with the totality of his set of skills." * * * During our expansive conversation with U-M athletics director Warde Manuel, only one topic triggered a "Don't make me cry" admonition. It sprang from the mention of Carol Hutchins, who spent 38 years building Michigan softball into a national power- house. Hutchins won more games than any other coach in Michigan history, but did far more, like Manuel pointed out. "She's up on that wall as a legend, because she's a legend," he said. "More than that, she's one of the best people that I've ever been around in sports and in life. She's taught me immensely. "As I told her team, I owe much of my leadership and the things I try to do to her wisdom and guidance and watching her, listening to her over the years. I've known Hutch since 1987, when I used to water the field as a summer job. "She just means the world to Michi- gan, Michigan softball and decades of women who she's touched in a very, very positive manner, to help them be who they are in life, to be spouses and moms and leaders. It's because of her pushing and prodding them to be the best, teaching them along the way." Hundreds of former Michigan softball players would similarly attest regard- ing the now-retired icon. To the benefit of the present ones, longtime assistant Bonnie Tholl will not only maintain the best of what Hutchins injected into the program, she'll build on it. "Bonnie is an unbelievable person, and an unbelievable coach," Manuel said. "A tremendous recruiter, a great speaker, a fundraiser. She had a great mentor in Hutch. "When I sat down to interview her, it was impressive. She didn't come in here and say, 'I'm going to do everything Hutch did.' "She came in here with her thoughts, her plan, what needed to happen to continue the success, to take us back to the World Series. With her first hire, she brings in one of the greatest softball players to ever play here at Michigan [Amanda Chidester], as an assistant. "To have Chiddy back … it's just been remarkable. I'm looking forward to working with Bonnie and watching her grow and watching her success." The success of her former boss won't ever be forgotten. But Manuel couldn't have made a more popular choice re- garding a successor. "After Hutch talked to the team and I dried my eyes and talked to them — I introduced Bonnie as the next head coach," Manuel noted. "The team gave her a standing ovation. That's when, as an athletic director, you feel good that you've done the right thing." ❏ WOLVERINE WATCH   JOHN BORTON Michigan Crowns A New Royal Leader Sophomore J.J. McCarthy connected on 30 of his first 34 passes this season for an eye-popping 88.3 completion percentage, earning the starting nod at quarterback after the second game of the season. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL Editor John Borton has been with The Wolverine since 1991. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @JB_Wolverine.

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