Statement from Brady Hoke

“I want to publicly apologize to Coach Dantonio as well as the players and supporters of Michigan State for our act of poor sportsmanship displayed pre-game yesterday. I spoke with Mark earlier today and expressed to him that we meant no disrespect to his team. During our regular Friday night team meeting, one of the topics presented to motivate our team was a history lesson addressing commitment and teamwork in a tough environment. A tent stake was presented to the team as a symbol of this concept. The stake was brought into our locker room as a visual reminder, and one of our team leaders chose to take it out on the field. As the leader of our football program, I take full responsibility for the actions of our team. We believe in displaying a high level of respect at the University of Michigan and unfortunately that was not reflected by this action prior to kickoff.”

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I Don’t Buy It

Michigan coach Brady Hoke on Monday insisted that quarterback Shane Morris had an ankle injury. On Tuesday, he refused to say when he learned Morris had a concussion.

Now athletics director Dave Brandon, as you can see from the tweet above, is insisting Hoke found out about it Monday afternoon.

I don’t buy it, and here’s why:

1) Let’s say we accept the premise put forth in a statement by the Wolverines. Hoke didn’t see the play during which Morris was hit in the head as it happened Saturday. He didn’t even watch the replay as it aired on the video board. Are we also supposed to accept that he didn’t see the play during the course of reviewing game tape Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon? Oh, and he should have known to look for it. He was asked about it after the game.

2) Speaking of that same interview, Hoke can’t claim as his defense that once he did actually witness the play, he assumed trainers had cleared Morris. What he told reporters postgame proves otherwise. “I don’t know if he had a concussion or not, I don’t know that,” he said. So he didn’t know Saturday what medical treatment had taken place, and he was so incurious, once he saw the hit, he didn’t follow-up?

3) And do we believe that Hoke didn’t have any communication with trainers about the concussion before Sunday’s practice? He didn’t receive a written summary of the team’s injury situation from the medical staff? When he was told that Morris couldn’t practice, he may have assumed it was a result of the ankle injury, but he didn’t follow up by asking how long Morris would be out? That question surely would have elicited a response that would indicate a concussion, not the ankle was sidelining him.

4) Someone informed Hoke that the medical staff would be releasing a statement regarding Morris. (We know this because it was Hoke who informed the media a statement was forthcoming.) If Hoke thought there wasn’t a concussion, why did think the statement was necessary? Why didn’t he ask what would be in the statement?

5) Dave Brandon claims to have interviewed everyone involved in the Morris situation before releasing a statement Tuesday morning, but incredulously, that group did not include Hoke?

So, to me, this just doesn’t add up.

Another Michigan Statement

Statement by U-M President Mark S. Schlissel

As the leader of our university community, I want to express my extreme disappointment in the events surrounding the handling of an on-field injury to one of our football players, Shane Morris. The health and safety of our entire student community, including all of our student-athletes, is my most important responsibility as university president.

I have been in regular discussion regarding this incident and its aftermath with Athletic Director David Brandon and the Board of Regents. I support the immediate protocol changes that the department’s initial assessment has identified. I have instructed the Athletic Department to provide me, the Board of Regents, and other campus leaders with a thorough review of our in-game player safety procedures, particularly those involving head injuries, and will involve experts from the University of Michigan Health System in assessing its medical aspects.

Despite having one of the finest levels of team medical expertise in the country, our system failed on Saturday. We did not get this right and for this I apologize to Shane, his family, his teammates, and the entire Michigan family. It is a critical lesson to us about how vigilant and disciplined we must always be to ensure student-athlete safety. As president, I will take all necessary steps to make sure that occurs and to enforce the necessary accountability for our success in this regard.

Our communications going forward will be direct, transparent and timely. The University of Michigan stands for the highest level of excellence in everything we do, on and off the field. That standard will guide my review of this situation and all the University’s future actions.

My thanks go to the many members of the University community who have taken the time to express their thoughts.

Hoke Responds to Accusations He Played Concussed QB

Below is a statement from University of Michigan head football coach Brady Hoke:

“The safety of our student-athletes is always our top priority. We generally never discuss the specifics of a student-athlete’s medical care, but Shane Morris was removed from yesterday’s game against Minnesota after further aggravating an injury to his leg that he sustained earlier in the contest. He was evaluated by our experienced athletic trainers and team physicians, and we’re confident proper medical decisions were made. The University of Michigan has a distinguished group of Certified Athletic Trainers and team physicians who are responsible for determining whether or not a player is physically able to play. Our coaches have no influence or authority to make determinations if or when an injured player returns to competition. The health and welfare of our student-athletes is and will continue to be a top priority.”

To see the play(s) in question, click here.

Why Ohio State Doesn’t Have a “Defensive Coordinator”

One week ago today, Michigan’s Regents approved a $10 million endowment, which resulted in Brady Hoke’s job title being changed.

He’s now the J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Head Football Coach.

Most of the articles on the subject addressed the fact that this is not at all uncommon.

Some stories referenced similar arrangements at Stanford, Vanderbilt, Boston College and Northwestern. Others addressed the fact that Michigan State is currently seeking a $5 million endowment for their football coach.

It turns out that another example exists at Ohio State.

The Buckeyes have an endowment for the university’s wrestling coach, and since 2012, the OSU football staff has included The Wandell Family Defensive Coordinator.

What is an endowment? At Ohio State, it’s an at least $50,000 donation that the school invests and then uses the interest on that investment for a purpose designated by the donor. In the case of the Wandell family, that is paying the salary of the defensive coordinator.

“It’s about connecting the donors to the reason they gave,” says Director of Development Operations Kate Riffee.

And it’s not just coaches and athletic department staffers that can be the beneficiary of an endowment. Specific aspects of the athletics department budget, such as travel spending or mentoring  programs, can be endowed. So can Ohio State athletes…up to a point.

Designating a specific athlete would be the sort of quid pro quo that would run afoul of both NCAA rules and IRS laws regarding donations.

Former Buckeye quarterback Mike Tomczak, for instance, cannot specify that his endowment goes to Braxton Miller. He can (and has) set aside money for an OSU signal caller. Then the coaches decide if Miller, Cardale Jones, JT Barrett, or Stephen Collier will be the recipient.

All told, Ohio State has almost 300 endowments, and they are always happy to add to that number. However the focus now, says Riffee, is on capital improvements (ie. buildings) and efforts such as The Buckeye Club.

Legends Update

The Big Ten football coaches from the conference’s Legends Division spoke to reporters today.

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio confirmed earlier reports that co-offensive coordinator Dave Warner will call plays for the Spartans this season, while he described Jim Bollman’s game-day role as something like that of a “consultant.”

Dantonio’s more pressing concern is finding someone to replace running back Le’Veon Bell and he had some interesting comments regarding that. He said that, as of right now, Nick Hill, Jeremy Langford and Nick Tompkins are competing for that spot. However, this fall, there will three more players arriving who have a chance to land the job, and they are still considering moving someone else from the current roster to the position. In what is perhaps an understatement, Dantonio called it an open competition.

It’s important for Dantonio to get that figured out. He wants someone who can carry the ball 250 times.

Meanwhile Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez told the Big Ten media that the Huskers are running a slightly more involved offense this season, and he likes the weapons he has available to him. So much so, that he wants to throw the ball 30 times a game.

Nebraska may be tweaking their offense, but in Michigan, something just short of an overhaul has taken place. Offensive lineman Taylor Lewan said they’ve spent much of the spring practicing with the quarterback under center, and they’ll be using a pro-style game plan this year.

“I’m excited about it,” said Lewan. “I think the tradition of mauling people up and down the field is really cool to me. It’s fun to see people kind of give up on the other side of the ball, not us.”

The move is being made largely because of the Wolverines are transitioning from having Denard Robinson at quarterback to Devin Gardner.

However, with Robinson gone and backup Russell Bellomy tearing his ACL, Michigan is very short of depth at the position. Coach Brady Hoke admits to considering JUCO and graduate student transfers.

Finally, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald weighed in on a variey of topics, including recruiting. While other schools race to be the first to offer a promising young player a scholarship, Fitzgerald stressed that he is philosophically opposed to putting that kind of a pressure on someone too young to drive or shave.