TAMPA, Fla. — For Chase Winovich, the future remains uncertain.
Though the redshirt junior has the allure of a professional football career dangling in front of him, Winovich said Thursday afternoon that he has yet to have a “come to Jesus moment” regarding his impending decision of whether or not to enter the NFL Draft.
Part of what makes the decision so difficult, according to Winovich, is that there are plenty of pros and very few cons to each side of the coin. But one of those cons, of course, is injury.
“I’m still thinking about it,” Winovich said. “… I don’t know if you guys ever hypothesized, if you were in my shoes, what would you do? Come back and risk injury, and it’s a violent game. I see people get hurt all the time. I see managers get hurt. They break arms and stuff. They’re not even on the field with us.
“But I’m just having fun, enjoying the moment with my teammates. Playing a lot of football here, getting ready for this game and once that’s over with, I’ll ultimately be forced to make a decision.”
When that decision does come, however, Winovich was clear that it wouldn’t be a financial one.
“It’s not even about the money,” he said. “I didn’t get in this game for the money, and I’m not going to leave this game for the money. It’s just a matter of opportunity. The NFL’s been a dream of mine, so we’ll see.”
NFL decisions aside, Winovich has been making as big of a splash off the field as he has on it — spearheading a fundraiser for the ChadTough Foundation by promising to dye his hair orange for the Outback Bowl if he could raise $15,000.
After clearing NCAA compliance paperwork, the plan was set in motion. And Winovich found himself with a crowded inbox.
“My problem was that I hooked it up to my email,” he said. “It took me about 1,500 emails before I decided to reach out to the ChadTough team and I said — because I didn’t want to sound ungrateful for all these donations — I was like, ‘Listen you’ve got to help me out. We’ve got to switch emails.’ Because it was my school email, so people were like ‘Hey I sent you this’, and I’m like ‘Yeah I didn’t see that.’ ”
The cluttered inbox is just a microcosm of what, in hindsight, looks like a modest goal. The fundraiser has raised $125,000 with the help of Maurice Hurst, Devin Bush Jr. and Don Brown — the latter of which will don an orange mustache when Michigan faces South Carolina.
Michigan’s defensive coordinator was the proverbial golden goose of the project, as he set the price of his mustache at the final goal of $125,000. Originally, though, Brown was never meant to be involved.
“We were messing with Coach Mattison about — because he’s bald — dying the sides of his hair orange,” Winovich said. “He would’ve just looked absurd. … We were in the meetings and Coach Brown, right before it started, he commended Mo and I for taking a stand. He thought it was very noble of us.
“And I jokingly said, ‘How much for you to dye your mustache orange?’ I was like, ‘150?’ And Coach Mattison chimed in, ‘Yeah Don, how much 150?’ And he’s like ‘150,000? I’ll do it for 125,000.’ ”
The rest, of course, is history. According to Winovich, a hair stylist from New Jersey is flying to Tampa on his own budget this weekend — set to dye the players’ hair, and a mustache, orange Saturday or Sunday.
But for those hoping Jim Harbaugh is going ginger in Tampa Bay, that remains unlikely.
“I’ve had the same haircut since I was 10,” Harbaugh said. “I’ve never dyed my hair, but for Chad, yeah.”
Added Winovich: “Getting Coach Harbaugh involved was the same thing with like, after we got 125,000 I didn’t want to incorporate anyone else at that point because at a certain point we’ve got a football game to play. My goal was 15,000. We got to 125,000. That was our final marking point with Coach Brown. … It was great to take a step away, help the kids out, but now you’ve gotta step back and focus on kicking some behind.”