He wore a blue-collared shirt with his name on it, but Erik Magnuson wasn’t there to make metaphors about lunch-pail workmanship.
Instead, as Michigan’s fifth-year senior tackle spoke to reporters in the Crisler Center media room Monday, Magnuson revealed another purpose for his attire.
“It’s my piggin’ shirt,” Magnuson explained. “Wear it when we go piggin’.”
A hulking right tackle with a beard that would make Paul Bunyan proud, Magnuson was initially hesitant to explain the meaning. But then he did anyway.
“Setting me up to be a headline on the other team,” he said. “So I can’t really say, but just understand, defensive line’s a bunch of pigs. Gotta get ’em.”
Against Colorado on Saturday, Magnuson did just that. He was Michigan’s highest-graded offensive lineman for the game, according to Pro Football Focus, and Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said “Mags” has probably been the team’s top pass protector so far.
He was named to the watch list for the Outland Trophy (awarded to the nation’s best interior lineman) this past summer, and he has lived up to it so far. Magnuson said Monday that he has not yet given up a sack, knocking on wood after he answered.
That’s an indication his early-season quest to fend off the “pigs” has been successful. Magnuson is no newcomer to animal metaphors — he compared Jabrill Peppers to a tiger last year — but for this one, he is sharing the credit with fellow fifth-year senior Kyle Kalis. Magnuson said he and Kalis, his former roommate, originated the term piggin’, and now others on the offensive line are in on it.
As early as Monday night, Magnuson proclaimed, the pair might release a web show called “Gone Piggin’ ” in the mold of Wayne’s World.
“There will be a show,” Magnuson said. “Whether or not it’s going to be available for you to see, yet to be determined.”
He declined to say where the studio would be, and he even declined to say whether it would even be released for public consumption “depending on how much criticism Coach thinks we’ll get for it.” Magnuson said they plan to have guests — senior tight end Jake Butt confirmed he had been invited on the show — and that they planned to film Monday.
Late Monday evening, a photo including Magnuson and Kalis appeared on the Instagram page of the WOLV-TV show Wolverine Women, announcing “Gone Piggin’ ” as a new weekly segment.
“It could be launching tonight, or tomorrow, or never,” Magnuson said Monday. “Stay tuned.”
But coming off a game in which redshirt sophomore quarterback Wilton Speight was sacked three times, Magnuson also knows he can’t rest on his piggin’ laurels.
“We can get better at piggin’,” Magnuson said. “Every week you can improve on your piggin’, but it depends on the attitude going into that. That’s why you’ve gotta wear the piggin’ shirt.”
Asked what the defensive line thought of the “pig” nicknames, Magnuson said it was a friendly nickname and that the defense had names for the offensive line, too. He did not specify what the names were, but perhaps redshirt junior defensive tackle Maurice Hurst gave a hint earlier in the afternoon.
As both Magnuson and Hurst sat at a podium, they were asked why offensive linemen were more prone to grow long beards than defensive linemen.
Hardly missing a beat, Hurst responded: “Uh, they’re ugly.”