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Sam Webb: Does it seem like it has been 10 years?”
Steve Hutchinson: “You know what? When you say it like that, it has been 10 years… but we were just talking and it just seems like yesterday. You know I was a sophomore when I played in that game and it seems like that that was just yesterday. I guess good memories die hard, you know.”
Sam Webb: ’97 that was your redshirt freshman year (Steve, “Redshirt freshman year.”). So, explain to me what it was like being thrown, basically being thrown in the fire like that.”
Steve Hutchinson: “Absolutely. You know, I had just come over from defense that spring. I just went to offense spring ball. We probably could not have had a worst spring as an offense line. We had Jansen and Zach where really only the two guys that ever played on the line. We had some different guys jumping in on the right guard spot until Chris Ziemann came over later during camp and solidified the right guard spot. It was a shot in the dark, and you know, we came together during camp. We played that first game and the rest is history.”
Sam Webb: Is there a particular game or particular moment that you look back on and say, ‘hey that was big, I am never going to forget that’ or ‘that was the turning point?’
Steve Hutchinson: “You know somebody asked me that earlier. I think the time for us was when we were playing at Michigan Stadium against Iowa that year and we were down 21-7 at the half. Nobody panicked at halftime and nobody was pointing fingers. Nothing like that. We just kind of just came out cool as could be the second half, went to work, made the corrections and ended up winning the game. That was the turning point. I think that was one of the few times during the season that we were actually down. Like I said, nobody panicked. We came back and did it. We built on that confidence. We went into Penn State and that was another one. Nobody gave us a shot there and we decimated them. So you know, so we kind of got some momentum going.”
Sam Webb: In talking to your former teammates and Coach Carr, one of the things that really identified that was special about that group was that it was not just one leader, it was not just one guy that was the face of that team. There were a number of guys that stepped up into the leadership role. Lets talk about that a little bit.
Steve Hutchinson: “Yeah. I mean we were a young team. That was a senior class that was going to be one of the first classes that had not gone to the Rose Bowl. I think it was just the younger guys playing for the older guys. You know, realizing ‘hey, they have paid their dues, they have done what they did and they have all stepped up.’ Eric got hurt in the fourth game and he was done. But he was still out there every day and we did not want to let those guys down. So you know, they just led and I was one of the young guys, and we followed. That was the thing; everybody just kind of looked to each other.”
Sam Webb: Moving on to your pro career. How is Minnesota treating you?
Steve Hutchinson: “It is nice. I like it a lot. You know, we made the transition last year, 1st season last year after being in Seattle. I like it a lot.”
For the rest of this story on 1997 championship reflections, plus
features on Michigan Hockey, Mike Hart, Legal issues surrounding coaches breaking
contracts, and more, check out the next issue of GoBlueWolverine
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