Nov. 3, 2009
By Bruce Madej, U-M Athletic Media Relations
When Forest Evashevski passed away on Friday (Oct. 30) at the age of 91, Michigan Athletics lost another former great student-athlete who played during an extra-special time. For most fans, it was the Tom Harmon era, but Harmon always said it was Evashevski who made him look good.
"Evy" was a single-wing quarterback recruited originally as a center from Detroit Northwestern. From 1938 to 1940 he led coach Fritz Crisler's U-M teams to a 20-4 record and helped Harmon win the Heisman Trophy in '40.
Evashevski also was a three-time letterwinner and starting catcher on the baseball team, and in his senior year, he was class president, a member of the honor society and winner of the Big Ten Medal of Honor.
And while World War II probably prevented Evashevski from going to Michigan Law School, it opened up opportunities for the U-M football star to get into coaching and then athletic administration.
"Evy" eventually ended up in the Michigan Hall of Honor, but what he did for the University of Iowa was equally or maybe even more impressive, gaining him entrance into Iowa's Athletics Hall of Fame.
He took the Iowa head football coaching job at the advice of his mentor and former coach Crisler. The Hawkeyes had only three winning seasons in 16 years, but Evashevski turned the team around, eventually winning Big Ten titles in 1956, '58 and '60 and the 1957 and '59 Rose Bowls. Iowa was named 1958 national champion by the Football Writers Association of America.
Evashevski gave up coaching after the 1960 season to take over as Iowa's athletics director, a job he held until he handed over the AD position to another great Michigan man, Chalmers "Bump" Elliott. Elliott, who was also a coach on Evashevksi's first football staff at Iowa and later was the head coach at Michigan before Bo Schembechler, was asked how "Evy" turned around the Hawkeye program.
"Simply put, recruiting was No. 1," Elliott said. "And No. 2, great coaching. Evy was an outstanding coach."
For everything Evashevski did for college football during his career, he was named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000.
And for everything he did for the Wolverines, "Evy" will always be remembered as one of Michigan's all-time greats.