The idea was Aidan Hutchinson's. The legacy is Tate Myre's.
"It was Aidan who came to me and wanted to dedicate this game to Tate Myre," Jim Harbaugh said after Michigan beat Iowa for the Big Ten title Saturday night. "'Yes, let's do that.' That was huge."
Myre, 16, was one of four students killed in a mass shooting this week at Oxford High School in Michigan, about an hour north of Ann Arbor. He was a star football player who lost his life trying to save others. For Saturday's game, Michigan wore a shoulder patch with Myre's initials and No. 42, plus four hearts for the four victims. Myre's family attended the game as honorary captains and took part in the coin toss before kickoff.
"When you read all the accounts and in talking to (football coach) Zach Line at Oxford High, Tate was a warrior," said Harbaugh. "Football player, wrestler, best athlete in the school. And the best athlete in the school could have easily made it out and been the first one out. But you just know that while people were running away from that fire, he was running into it. He’s a hero."
Harbaugh said he brought Hutchinson's idea to athletic director Warde Manuel, who helped "put everything together." He said the Wolverines wanted to honor Myre's "bravery and courage." Then they went out and scored 42 points, matching Myre's number on their jerseys.
"God works in mysterious ways, man," said Hutchinson, who also had 'Play For Tate' written on tape around his wrist as he became the first defensive player ever to win MVP in the Big Ten championship game. "It’s crazy."
Harbaugh said he wasn't aware of the symmetry until he looked up at the scoreboard after Michigan extended its lead to 42-3 in the fourth quarter, at which point he sought out Hutchinson on the sideline.
"I came over to talk to Aidan, 'Aidan, that’s 42 up there,'" Harbaugh said.
"Goosebumps," said Hutchinson, sitting next to his coach.
Senior O-lineman and co-captain Andrew Vastardis said "we wanted to play for 42 and all those that tragically lost their lives in that community -- and we scored 42 points tonight. It gave me chills when I noticed that."
Asked if Michigan will continue to wear the jersey patch in the College Football Playoff, Hutchinson said, "Let's do it."
"Absolutely," said Harbaugh.
Myre, who was also an honor role student, died in a police car as he was being rushed to the hospital. The patch also pays tribute to victims Hana St. Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; and Justin Shilling, 17.
"It's a community that needs all of our prayers, every one of them," Harbaugh said.