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Published: Friday, 11/18/2005

Michigan's Detwiler loved to drill Ohio State

Jim Detwiler was an All-Everything running back at the former DeVilbiss High School.

As a senior in the fall of 1962, he earned All-City, All-Ohio and All-American honors.

Detwiler's skills were dazzling.

Former DeVilbiss and Wolverines running back Jim Detwiler, now a Perrysburg dentist, still has great interest in the Ohio State-Michigan game. Former DeVilbiss and Wolverines running back Jim Detwiler, now a Perrysburg dentist, still has great interest in the Ohio State-Michigan game.
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He was one of the most sought-after players in the state.

More than 60 colleges were interested in Detwiler, including bitter rivals Michigan and Ohio State.

Detwiler chose the Wolverines' famous winged helmet over Woody and Brutus Buckeye.

His decision wasn't all that unusual during that period.

"My freshman year at Michigan, 21 of the top 30 guys on our team were from Ohio," said the 60-year-old Detwiler, who is a dentist in Perrysburg. "We had a huge contingent, I think, primarily because Woody was a little bit off the deep end in those years.

"For two or three seasons there, he had just kind of lost his touch in recruiting in Ohio."

Detwiler was a standout on Michigan's freshman team in 1963, and the 6-3, 215-pound halfback earned a starting job in the backfield with the big boys as a sophomore.

He always seemed to be at his best against Ohio State.

The sight of a Scarlet and Gray uniform made Detwiler run harder and faster, especially in Columbus.

Former DeVilbiss and Wolverines running back Jim Detwiler. Former DeVilbiss and Wolverines running back Jim Detwiler.
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On a bone-chilling afternoon in 1964, Detwiler accounted for the game's only touchdown at Ohio Stadium.

He snagged an 18-yard reception from quarterback Bob Timberlake in the final minute of the first half, and Michigan blanked Ohio State 10-0 to snap a four-game losing streak against the Buckeyes.

Detwiler helped punch Michigan's first ticket to the Rose Bowl in 14 years, and the Wolverines captured their only Big Ten title in Bump Elliott's 10 seasons as coach.

Michigan finished No. 4 in the country that year - its highest ranking since winning the national title in 1948.

Detwiler missed The Game in Ann Arbor his junior year due to a knee injury, but he served as a spotter in the booth for ABC announcer Bill Fleming during Ohio State's 9-7 triumph.

Detwiler's balky knee limited his playing time early in his senior season in 1966, but he recovered in time to shred the Buckeyes' defense for a career-high 140 yards and a touchdown in the Wolverines' 17-3 win at the Horseshoe.

Detwiler averaged a career-high 7.0 yards on 20 carries that day, but his performance was overshadowed by the epic 10-10 tie involving Notre Dame and Michigan State.

"We had instituted the I-formation a couple of weeks before the Ohio State game, and they put me at tailback," Detwiler said. "I ran the ball more times in the first half than I had ever run it before, but I ran out of gas. The coach very kindly told the media that I had the flu. I actually was rubber-legged and couldn't play much after that."

Detwiler was a first-team All-Big Ten pick, then rushed for more than 100 yards and was named most valuable back of the Blue-Gray All-Star game.

He was one of two first-round draft picks of the Baltimore Colts in 1967 - Bubba Smith was the other - but Detwiler's knee continued to limit his abilities on the field.

After being waived in the preseason two consecutive years, he used his $50,000 signing bonus to segue into a career in dentistry, which he has been practicing for the last 30 years.

Detwiler, who pre-dates Bo Schembechler at Michigan, still follows the riveting rivalry with Ohio State very closely.

He and his family plan to be in the Big House tomorrow for the 102nd installment of the storied series.

"The rivalry has changed a lot since the 1960s," Detwiler said. "Bo was a gentleman, he would never get into anything personal involving Ohio State. Woody took it very seriously. He wouldn't even talk to Bo when he was at Michigan, although Bo used to play for Woody and work for him.

"Woody carried it a little bit to the extreme, as far as I was concerned."

The Buckeyes' recent domination in the series - Ohio State coach Jim Tressel owns a 3-1 record against Michigan's Lloyd Carr - disturbs Detwiler more than a little bit.

So does Carr's conservative coaching style.

"I like coach Carr, but it seems to me like he plays not to lose instead of playing to win, kind of like coach Tressel," Detwiler said. "I think when you have so many good teams scattered throughout the country, you have to be more aggressive. I think coach Carr needs to change his philosophy."

Detwiler knows that will be a lot harder than pulling teeth.



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