Ran Into the Fire (Michigan 42, Iowa 3)

All Photos: Zoey Holmstrom

In the afternoon of Tuesday, November 30th at Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan, a 15-year old student opened fire on his teachers and classmates. The boy fired 30 shots from a semi-automatic handgun. Four students were killed. Six others were injured. And an entire region is still shook.

The victims were Hana St. Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17, Justin Shilling, 17, and Tate Myre, 16.

Ross Wingert, who coached Tate in football and wrestling, was one of the first to reach the staging area that had been set up at a local Meijer store near the high school. In the middle of the chaotic scene, with parents frantically arriving and searching for their children, Wingert was told by multiple students that when the gunfire started, Tate ran toward the gunman.

“I was told that everybody in that school was running one way, and Tate was running the other way,” Wingert said.

He ran into the fire.

Shortly after, Tate Myre died in a police car on the way to the hospital.

“I told them that Tate is the fastest, most athletic kid in that school,” Wingert said. “There's no way he couldn't have gotten out of there if he wanted to. He would have been the No. 1 candidate to be able to run out of that school if he wanted to. I know Tate chose to do what he thought was right and he made the ultimate sacrifice."

It's hard to be a sports fan sometimes. And especially when you frame a game like this through the lens of a horrific tragedy. Aidan Hutchinson approached Jim Harbaugh in the days leading up to the game and asked if they could dedicate the game to Tate. Harbaugh agreed and took it to U-M athletic director Warde Manuel. 

By Friday night, patches has been added to the players jerseys and coaches hats and shirts, and Tate's family had agreed to be on-hand for the game as honorary captains.


It's been two days since Michigan won the Big Ten championship over Iowa 42-3, and 9 days since Michigan beat Ohio State 42-27, and I still don't really know what's going on or how to process it. My Michigan football brain is still in shock.

I started this blog in 2007 when sports blogs were all the rage. It was also the absolute worst time in the modern college football era to start covering Michigan football. Ohio State had solidified its foothold in the rivalry after their huge win in 2006, Michigan State was about to embark on it's greatest stretch in program history, my first game on the blog was Appalachian State followed by Oregon the week after. I covered the end of Carr, three years of Rich Rod, the sudden rise and lengthy fall of Brady Hoke, and of course the seemingly endless frustration of having Jim Harbaugh and watching him struggle to get Michigan back on its feet again.

I thought the 2020 season was it for Harbaugh. I thought it was over. A lot of us did. After the loss to 0-5 Penn State, Brian Griese tweeted out "Enough is enough" and frankly, no one really disagreed with him. It wasn't working...and in the worst way. You could see the team just didn't care. The will to win was gone. The culture was broken.

After the season, Jim Harbaugh sat down with Warde Manuel and the two came up with what was described as "a plan". No one knew what the plan entailed, but it was clear that cleaning house in the coaches room was a big part of it. Another part of it was slashing Jim's salary and backloading it with numerous incentives.

Manuel had made the decision to stick with Harbaugh. He wasn't his coach...he inherited Harbaugh from Jim Hackett. But in the end, it was clear Michigan couldn't stomach another exhausting coaching search. It was time to stick with the devil you know.

The result was a revamped and younger coaching staff, a renewed focus on Ohio State, a whole new defensive approach, and an offense that is much closer to what Michigan fans expected when Harbaugh first took the job in 2015. Whatever the "plan" was that Harbaugh and Manuel hashed out after the 2020 season, it worked. Man, did it ever work.

No one saw this coming. 


Saturday was less of a heated championship title matchup, and more of what MVictors described as a coronation. 

Despite the fact that this was Michigan's first time in Indy playing for a conference title, there was little doubt how this game would play out. After Michigan's convincing win over the Buckeyes a week earlier and now playing in Indy, there was zero threat of a let down. Michigan had been building all season, playing it's best football in November for the first time in a long time. 

Iowa is a good football team, but what we saw on Saturday night was further proof that the Big Ten's east and west divisions are light years apart. The west division is 0-8 in championship games. All of the league's firepower on a national scale resides in the east. There was basically just no way Iowa was going to escape Lucas Oil Stadium with a win on Saturday night.

For the first time in my media career, I was given a vote for the MVP of the game. And oddly, there really wasn't one. If I could have voted for the entire defense, I would've. I was on the fence between Aidan Hutchinson and Hassan Haskins. Both had played typically well in this game, but neither was an obvious choice. I voted Haskins for not just the game he played against Iowa, but because of the season and career he's had at Michigan. Hutchinson gets a lot of praise, and deservedly so, but Hassan to me is just as deserving of a team MVP award as anyone.

At the end of the day, this was Michigan's title to win and they took care of business in decisive fashion. Huge props to the entire offensive line and Cade McNamara. Donovan Edwards is going to be special to watch over the coming seasons...that kid can do anything. JJ McCarthy's downfield block on Corum's touchdown run was epic! I can't wait to see how these tight ends and receivers grow...we get Ronnie Bell back next year! Defensively, Aidan and Ojabo get all of the praise, but how about guys like Josh Ross, Chris Hinton, Mazi Smith, Donovan Jeter, Dax Hill and Michael Barrett? What about the year DJ Turner, RJ Moten, Vincent Gray and Brad Hawkins had?

How is this the same team that went 2-4 a year ago?  You can't measure how far these young men have grown since then. This team will go down in Michigan lore right next to 1969. 

Who would've thought?

Enjoying the photos? See the full album here.

Now, it's on to the College Football Playoff semifinal (!!!) in the Orange Bowl where the Georgia Bulldogs are currently a 7.5 point favorite.

Perfect. That's exactly what this Michigan team needs.

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