Those goose bumps weren’t restricted to the realization that the No. 2 Wolverines had secured their first Big Ten title in 17 years and a spot in the College Football Playoffs for the first time. It was lost on no one that “42” happened to be the number worn by Tate Myre, the football player who was one of four students shot to death Tuesday at Oxford High School in Michigan last week.
“We wanted to play for 42,” Michigan center Andrew Vastardis said (via the Detroit News), “and all those that tragically lost their lives in that community and everything. It’s up to God, man. We scored 42 points, man. So it just kind of — gave me chills when I noticed that.”
Hutchinson was a driving force behind tributes by the Wolverines Saturday.
“When Aidan came to me, and it was Aidan that came to me,” Harbaugh told reporters after the game, “and wanted to dedicate the game to Tate Myre, I said, ‘Yes. Let’s do that.’ That was huge, and then when it was 42 points and we all looked up there, we were like …”
Harbaugh’s voice faded and he looked at Hutchinson, who added, “God works in mysterious ways. Man, it’s crazy.”
Players wore a patch that bore Myre’s initials, his number and four hearts for each victim on their uniforms. Myre’s parents, Buck and Sheri, and his brothers, Trent and Ty, were on hand, standing at midfield just before kickoff in Indianapolis. They wore “Oxford Strong” T-shirts and Oxford hats. Myre, 16, died en route to a hospital. Hana St. Juliana, Madisyn Baldwin and Justin Shilling also were killed. Seven others were wounded.
“When you read all the accounts and talking to Coach [Zach] Line at Oxford High School, Tate was a warrior, football player, wrestler, best athlete in the school,” Harbaugh said. “And the best athlete in the school could have easily made it out of that school and been the first one out.
“But while people were running away from that fire, he was running into it. And he’s a hero. I’m glad — our players got soul, too. They’ve got big hearts. They’re incredible guys.”