The Wolverine

March 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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96 THE WOLVERINE MARCH 2018 BY JOHN BORTON D r. Chris Hutchinson still operates at a high level, and the next wave is coming through. Hutchinson entered his 21st year as an emergency room physician at nearby Beaumont Hospital. He and his wife, Melissa, another U-M alum, are adding to the ranks of Wolverines. Daughter Mia is a senior at Michigan, daughter Aria is a freshman, and son Aidan represents a talented building block in Jim Harbaugh's 2018 recruiting class. That's a little hard to believe for the former Michigan captain and those who watched him rack up five consecutive Big Ten champi- onship rings from 1988-92. He's come full circle, from Michigan rookie under Bo Schembechler to Michigan dad watching his son don the 97 jersey he used to wear. Hutchinson still burns with the fierce pride of achievement, and a ready answer for those who confuse him with another U-M standout bearing his surname. "My favorite quote, when people get me confused with Steve Hutchinson: 'He won the national championship. I won five Big Ten championships and never lost to Ohio State.' That's where I'm coming from," he proudly noted. Hutchinson originally came from Texas, at a time of considerable flux for Michigan football. Two years into his career, the man for whom they named Schembechler Hall stepped down. Hutchison expressed gratitude for those years with the Michigan legend, albeit a slightly toned-down version. The undersized defensive end's first position coach, Tom Reid, brought him up to speed there. "He would tell us stories of how Bo was really, back in the day," Hutchin- son said with a laugh. "From my perspective, we had a much more mellow, muted Bo, than my position coach did. I hear guys from the '70s talking the same. "My coach got it even worse at Miami of Ohio. [Current U-M head coach Jim] Harbaugh got in trouble for having practice during spring break? Tom Reid told me they had three-a-days during spring break." Schembechler retained enough fire to capture a Big Ten title during Hutchin- son's first two seasons. The rookie sat out that first campaign, redshirting just four months off shoulder surgery. His first start arrived the following season when Notre Dame's Raghib "Rocket" Ismail returned a pair of kickoffs for touchdowns in a 24-19 win at Michigan Stadium. Hutchin- son sported big numbers, despite his head spinning from the experience. "All they did was run, run, run, so I actually had 10 tackles that first game," he recalled. "I didn't match that total until my fifth year. I was the new guy on the line, so they were testing me out. "I would come off and they would ask me what I was seeing, what block- ing scheme, what they were doing. I had no idea. I played okay. I reacted. But I wasn't able to take that step back and say, 'I'm getting this sort of block- ing, this is what they're doing.'" He posted his first sack two games later, a win over Mary- land on the way to 10 straight victories and the conference championship. A year later, Michigan might have featured an even better team — but wound up 9-3, sharing the Big Ten title with three other squads. Hutchin- son stood well established by then, but back issues began to impact his on-field battles. Ask any Michigan fan about the Wolverines' 28-27 loss to Michigan State that season, and the response never var- ies. MSU defensive back Eddie Brown tripped wideout Des- mond Howard in the end zone on a two-point conversion, flags remained tucked in pock- ets and the Spartans cheated the No. 1 Wolverines out of a win in Michigan Stadium. Ask Hutchinson, and he re- members it quite differently. Not the play, of course. The game itself. He picked off an MSU pass on the final play of the half, but twisted his back as he went down. He wouldn't see the field again. "Everybody goes up into the tun- nel," he recalled. "I'm a 19-year-old kid. I don't know what's going on. I just realized I'm lifting my leg, be- cause I can't move it. My hip flexor won't lift my leg so I can walk. "By the time I get to the locker room, the door is shut. I'm pounding on the door to try to get in. The guy who answers the door — and I don't even remember who it was — is yell- ing at me. Why the hell am I so late? "I'm like, 'I don't know, I can't feel my leg.' They think I'm out screw- ing around. So we get in the training room, and they're testing my reflexes, and I have no reflexes in my left leg. They're looking at me and say, 'Push! Push!' I'm like, 'I am pushing.' "I see them look at each other like, 'Well, he's done.' I'm thinking, what do you mean I'm done? I didn't have pain. I had a little bit of numbness, but it was just muscle weakness."   WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Dr. Chris Hutchinson Sends Another Generation To Michigan Hutchinson and his wife, Melissa — a fellow U-M alum — have sent all three of the children to their alma mater. Their son Aidan was a U.S. Army All-American and is a key member of current head coach Jim Harbaugh's 2018 recruiting class. PHOTO COURTESY CHRIS HUTCHINSON

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