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Sunday, December 27, 1992 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Wolverine Player To Miss Game, But Don't Ask Why

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. - Washington and Michigan fans can empathize. A month after Washington lost its backup quarterback, Billy Joe Hobert, Michigan lost its backup tailback, junior Jesse Johnson.

Michigan Coach Gary Moeller is withholding details on why his second-leading rusher (792 yards) and fourth-leading scorer (30 points) was suspended from the team a few days before it left for California.

"He was not doing things the way we want them done," Moeller told the Detroit Free Press this week. "He isn't complying with team rules. I'm not free to go into details. But he did not shoot anybody."

Unlike Hobert, Johnson will be back next year.

EVERITT GROWS UP -- Michigan's class clown is hanging up his big rubber feet and his yarn hair. In addition to providing key blocks, center Steve Everitt has provided his team with comic relief over the years.

Among his high jinks: Three years ago, as a freshman, Everitt scaled the hills of Hollywood to hang from the Hollywood sign. He once wore a string bikini to a winter-conditioning workout.

Asked if he plans any more stunts this week in California, Everitt said, "No. That was when I was young and immature."

ELVIS JOKES DIE -- Among the many rewards Elvis Grbac's senior season has brought him - the end of Elvis jokes. His teammates' were the worst.

"We would do it all the time," tailback Ricky Powers said. "When he'd have a good game, we'd say `Elvis lives,' or we'd play on imaginary guitars. He would turn red and laugh. But eventually it got old. It was time to find another joke."

For the record, Grbac was not named after the singer. His name comes from his Croatian ancestry.

NOTES -- Apparently the sunshine and mild temperatures - highs were in the 70s yesterday afternoon - has put Michigan Coach Gary Moeller in a charitable mood. He broke tradition yesterday at Orange Coast College, opening practice to the media for an hour, instead of the customary 30 minutes. -- The Wolverines, who arrived in California on Christmas Day, have played in 14 Rose Bowl games, but until this year hadn't stayed at the beach. The team's hotel for this season's game is in Huntington Beach, across the street from the sand. Every room in the Wolverines' hotel has an ocean view, something the Michigan staff is eating up.

"Coming out of Detroit, just being able to see the ocean makes you think you're in heaven," said Bruce Madej, UM's assistant athletic director. -- After today's practice, the Wolverines will attend a beach party. Yesterday's leisure schedule included Michigan's turn at the Beef Bowl, a prime-rib feast at a Los Angeles restaurant. The Huskies went beef bowling, a 37-year-old Rose Bowl tradition, last Monday.

Copyright (c) 1992 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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