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.

Michigan Statement

Statement from U-M Athletic Director Dave Brandon Regarding Student-Athlete Health and Welfare

Ultimate responsibility for the health and safety of our student-athletes resides with each team’s coach and with me, as the Director of Athletics. We are committed to continuously improving our procedures to better protect the health and welfare of our student-athletes.

I have had numerous meetings since Sunday morning to thoroughly review the situation that occurred at Saturday’s football game regarding student-athlete Shane Morris. I have met with those who were directly involved and who were responsible for managing Shane’s care and determining his medical fitness for participation.

In my judgment, there was a serious lack of communication that led to confusion on the sideline. Unfortunately, this confusion created a circumstance that was not in the best interest of one of our student-athletes. I sincerely apologize for the mistakes that were made. We have to learn from this situation, and moving forward, we will make important changes so we can fully live up to our shared goal of putting student-athlete safety first.

I have worked with Darryl Conway, my Associate Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Health and Welfare, to develop a detailed accounting of the events that occurred. Darryl is the person who oversees all athletic training personnel and serves as the liaison to the physicians we work with through the University of Michigan Health System and University Health Services.

It is important to note that our athletic trainers and physicians working with Michigan Athletics have the unchallengeable authority to remove student-athletes from the field of play. Michigan Athletics has numerous medical professionals at every football competition including certified athletic trainers and several physicians from various relevant specialties.

I, along with Darryl and our administrative and medical teams, have spent much of the last two days carefully reviewing the situation regarding Shane Morris. We now understand that, despite having the right people on the sidelines assessing our student-athletes’ well being, the systems we had in place were inadequate to handle this unique and complex situation properly.

With his permission, I can share that Shane Morris suffered an ankle injury during the third quarter of Saturday’s game. He was evaluated for that injury by an orthopedic surgeon and an athletic trainer several times during the game. With each of these evaluations it was determined that his ankle injury did not prevent him from playing.

In the fourth quarter, Shane took a significant hit and stumbled after getting up. From the field level and without the benefit of replays, medical and coaching staffs did not see the hit. Because they did not see the hit, the athletic training staff believed Shane stumbled because of his ankle injury. The team neurologist, watching from further down the field, also did not see the hit. However, the neurologist, with expertise in detecting signs of concussion, saw Shane stumble and determined he needed to head down the sideline to evaluate Shane.

Shane came off the field after the following play and was reassessed by the head athletic trainer for the ankle injury. Since the athletic trainer had not seen the hit to the chin and was not aware that a neurological evaluation was necessary, he cleared Shane for one additional play.

The neurologist and other team physicians were not aware that Shane was being asked to return to the field, and Shane left the bench when he heard his name called and went back into the game. Under these circumstances, a player should not be allowed to re-enter the game before being cleared by the team physician. This clearly identifies the need for improvements in our sideline and communication processes.

Following the game, a comprehensive concussion evaluation was completed and Shane has been evaluated twice since the game. As of Sunday, Shane was diagnosed with a probable, mild concussion, and a high ankle sprain. That probable concussion diagnosis was not at all clear on the field on Saturday or in the examination that was conducted post-game. Unfortunately, there was inadequate communication between our physicians and medical staff and Coach Hoke was not provided the updated diagnosis before making a public statement on Monday. This is another mistake that cannot occur again.

Going forward, we have identified two changes in our procedures that we will implement immediately:

We will have an athletic medicine professional in the press box or video booth to ensure that someone will have a bird’s eye view of the on-field action, have television replay available and have the ability to communicate with medical personnel on the sidelines.

We are also examining how to reinforce our sideline communication processes and how decisions will be made in order to make sure that information regarding student-athlete availability to participate is communicated effectively amongst the medical team and to our coaches.

We have learned from this experience, and will continue to improve ways to keep our student-athletes’ health and safety our number one priority.

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.

Keep Your Friends Close and Your Rivals Closer?

Ohio State Buckeyes, we are told, don’t give a darn for the whole state of Michigan.

But that’s only true in the same way that liberals don’t give a darn for conservatives, and yet spend entire shows carving up Rush Limbaugh; and conservatives don’t give a darn for liberals, yet seem obsessed with some guy named Barack Obama.

Unfortunately, “We’re actually constantly driven to outdo the whole state of Michigan in every way, shape and form,” makes for an awfully clunky song lyric.

Judging by ticket sales, it is even possible that some Ohio State fans are more interested in Michigan’s game this weekend than some Wolverines supporters are.

Reminded that the Maize and Blue will be playing Appalachian State, OSU linebacker Joshua Perry, for instance, admitted he’s familiar with the history there. “That would be something to see. I remember a few years ago, when they went down to those guys.”

Obviously, he’s hoping for a repeat, right?

“I doubt that they’re going to let that happen again, and I want them to play really well, so that when we play them, it’s going to be a big game.”

While he’s not pulling for the upset, note that Perry doesn’t refer to Michigan. He doesn’t even call them the School Up North. He just calls them, “them.”

Buckeye tight end Jeff Heuerman, on the other hand, is cheering for a Mountaineers victory. “My high school coach is the linebackers coach at Appalachian State, so I’ll be obviously rooting for him,” Heuerman said. “I’ll wish him luck before the game, as he always does to me.”

Buckeye Defensive lineman Chris Carter has another perspective still. Once Ohio State’s game with Navy wraps up, he’ll have more pressing things to do than to check in on the Maize and Blue.

“The first thing I’m going to do is call my brother, who’s in his eighth year in the Navy, and he’s stationed in Djibouti,” Carter said. “And my father, who’s a Navy vet.”

After those phone calls? “Then maybe I’ll find out the score,” Carter laughed.

So if you ask an Ohio State fan on this, the eve of their college football season, if they’re also eager to know the outcome of the Wolverines game, they might tell you, “Frankly, I don’t give a darn.”

But tomorrow is another day.

Ohio State/Michigan Cracks The Top 5

ESPN has named 25 college football games from this past season as the best of 2013, and ESPNU will be televising replays of most of these contests in the coming days.

For Ohio State fans, this is both good and bad. The Buckeyes loss to Clemson in the Orange Bowl ranks 19th on the ESPN list, and the Big Ten Championship Game, in which OSU fell 34-24 to Michigan State is 9th.*

However, the Scarlet and Gray’s victory over Michigan is somewhere in the top 5, where exactly that game lands will depend on a fan vote. To cast your vote, click here.

*ESPN won’t be airing the Big Ten title game.

That Time Bobby Carpenter and Jake Ballard Trolled Tom Brady

When the New York Giants celebrated their 21-17 win over the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, there was one Giants player who couldn’t join in the merry making. So instead of being a high point, the end of that game marked one of the toughest challenges of former Buckeye Jake Ballard’s career.

“I don’t think anybody has been through the trials and tribulations like I have, the highest of highs and the lowest of lows,” Ballard told azcentral.com.

He had caught 2 passes for 10 yards, before tearing his ACL with about 7 minutes left to go in the game. As the clock wound down, he was in the company of team doctors who were yelling at him to stop hopping around, or else risk damaging his knee further.

He couldn’t take part in the Lombardi Trophy ceremony, was placed on injured reserve, then claimed off waivers by–of all teams–the Patriots.

That led to one really awkward encounter with New England quarterback Tom Brady as Brady was receiving his AFC Championship ring, a nice piece of jewelry that he surely would have traded for the Super Bowl ring Ballard was sporting.

“It was the last day of minicamp…So I have another buddy, (former Ohio State linebacker) Bobby Carpenter…and Bobby is like, ‘Hey Ballard, why don’t you show Brady the real ring?’ I’m like, ‘Bobby, it’s my first day here. I’m not trying to make enemies.’ And Tom kind of half smiles, looks at me and says, ‘Too soon, Bob.’ “

Ballard is now healthy and playing for the Arizona Cardinals. To read more about how he likes his new home, as well as see video of Ballard discussing the Ohio State/Michigan rivalry, click here.