Dierdorf, Hutchinson know why NFL covets Michigan blockers

When NFL teams are looking for offensive linemen they go to Michigan.

This week our Talk of Fame Network guys head to the University of Michigan in our continuing series on the NFL’s most productive college football programs. Michigan has produced hundreds ... if not thousands ... of NFL players, but it is offensive linemen for which the school is known.

We visit with two of the best, Hall-of-Famer Dan Dierdorf and 2018 Hall-of-Fame candidate Steve Hutchinson, to unlock the mystery of why Michigan has sent 11 offensive linemen in each of the first and second rounds of the NFL.

Dierdorf, who played in Ann Arbor in the early days of Bo Schembechler’s time as head coach, believes he knows why NFL teams go to Michigan looking for linemen.

“It is a legacy of Michigan,’’ the former All-American said on this week's Talk of Fame Network broadcast. “It’s something they’d very much like to get back to. Bo was not ever mentioned as one of the great innovators of the passing game. He loved winning the line of scrimmage. He loved to run the football.’’

And run it Michigan did when Dierdorf was a three-year starter there. But how does a Canton, Ohio boy end up becoming a Michigan man? In Dierdorf’s case it was easy.

“I have a get-out-of-jail-free card,’’ Dierdorf explained. “Woody Hayes did not offer me a scholarship to Ohio State. Don’t blame me! It wasn’t even a question of saying 'no' to Ohio State. They said 'no' to me.’’

Ohio State wasn’t the only school to miss out on a future All-America blocker. So did Florida State when it allowed south Florida product and Broward County MVP Steve Hutchinson to slip away.

“My Dad was from (Michigan’s) upper peninsula, so I was drawn to those helmets at an early age,’’ Hutchinson recalled. “I did consider Florida State, but when Michigan gave me a scholarship offer, I jumped on it. (Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden) did put a full court press on, but I’d committed to Michigan. I won a national championship out of it.’’

He also became a first-round draft choice and a perennial All-Pro for the Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks and is now viewed as a likely Hall of Famer. But that road began at Michigan, where Hutchinson was named co-captain along with a guy named Tom Brady.

“We knew it all along at Michigan,’’ Hutchinson said of Brady’s incredible NFL success.

Hutchinson recalled his only loss to Ohio State, against whom he went 3-1 while at Michigan, and how a bloody Brady responded to the Buckeyes constant harassment of him that day.

“They hit Brady so hard he was bleeding,’’ Hutchinson recalled. “There was blood running down his face. That was not even fazing him. I knew then and there he had the “it’’ factor.’’

So did Dierdorf, Hutchinson and Michigan football.

Our Talk of Fame Network co-hosts, Ron Borges, Clark Judge and Rick Gosselin join Pro Football Journal's John Turney to debate the surprising decision by Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo to retire to the CBS broadcast booth and how that may affect him, the Cowboys, other teams in need of a quarterback and Phil Simms, who lost his No. 1 analyst’s position at CBS to make room for the untested Romo.

There’s that and more during this rollicking, two-hour radio debate. You can hear it all on SB Nation radio network, on 76 radio stations around the country or you can download the show’s free podcast at iTunes. You can also access the show using the TuneIn radio app or by going to our website, talkoffamenetwork.com, and clicking on the helmet icon.