somehow we're only 124th
Scattered showers and mid 60s to start our Saturday. Lots of clouds and fog, but they do start to break up and we see more breaks in the clouds after lunch. Between the showers and the sun, it's a great day for a tailgating hat :) Through the morning winds will be out of the southerly direction around 5mph (just enough to feel it on your skin), but shift midday to come out of the west behind a cold front - picking up to about 10mph (leaves blow about). Piscataway could pick up a 1/4" of rainfall this morning, so take care if you walk on the grass in the afternoon-might be a little soggy! High temperatures in the afternoon will make it up to 70 before dropping back into the 60s.
61 degrees for kickoff! Some clouds have hung on, but they'll continue to diminish further as the 1st half goes on. That will help the temps drop, so keep that in mind as you decide what layers of clothing to carry through the gates. Winds are out of the west at 13mph (enough to see some small branches sway, keep leaves in motion).
Dropping into the upper 50s by the halfway mark, with just a couple of clouds here and there. Winds will remain out of the west at 11mph - just enough to add an extra bit of chill to the evening. Might be a good time to grab a hot chocolate!
A quiet end weather-wise to the game, hopefully not cheering-wise for the Wolverines! High Point Solutions Stadium... that's got to be a good name for a place we can come in and get things back on track right? 52 degrees walking out, with a west wind staying up at 10mph. It will remain at 10mph into the late night, before briefly dropping a tad Sunday morning. Skies stay starry, and temps stay chilly - we'll hit 47 if you'll be out late celebrating, so you'll definitely want the long sleeves then! Sunday will be sunny with highs in the low 60s if you'll be traveling.
If you're staying home... Saturday will start off with some sunshine, but the backside of the low pressure system will bring us more clouds and scattered showers through the afternoon. We'll also be breezier - southwest winds around 20mph (small trees sway) with gusts in the mid 30s (empty garbage cans tip over, you can hear the wind whistle). Chilly! We'll struggle to hit 50, and most in SE MI won't. And the winds will have it feeling closer to 40, then the 30s during game time - brrr! We do get rid of the wind gusts tonight, but keep lots of clouds and also the chance for rain. We do see a little more sun for Sunday, so the temps will reach the low 50s, but scattered rain is still in the forecast - as is wind. Southwest winds will be gusty throughout the day, so keep that in mind if you're driving back. Go Blue and have safe travels, or have fun watching here at home!
Christina Burkhart is a meteorologist for ABC in Flint, MI. She grew up in Ann Arbor and associates Saturdays with Michigan football. Go Blue!!
Get well soon, Shane [AP]
1. The Four Factors
|Expected Pts||Conversion Rate||Bonus Yards||Red Zone|
Surprisingly, this game was close to a draw once you account for field position (the return TD inflates the expected points number). We have another game to add to the defense is good but not great line and another heaping helping of this is a dysfunctional offense.
Michigan’s conversion rate of 50% is woeful. For the season, only SMU, North Texas and Eastern are below 50%. Michigan had no business being at that rate against Minnesota. The 1.06 bonus yards would also be 4th worst in the nation, for a season. But hey, the red zone streak continues. You can’t stop Michigan once they get to the red zone, but you definitely can before they get there.
For the Season [Value (National Rank/B1G Rank)]
|Expected Pts||Conversion Rate||Bonus Yards||Red Zone|
|Offense||24.3 (94/12)||66.3% (90/9)||2.51 (50/8)||6.0 (20/2)|
|Defense||28.1 (81/13)||59.8% (16/4)||1.75 (23/4)||5.5 (87/10)|
The Appalachian State game continues to prop up the season numbers. Michigan’s bonus yards per play drops nearly a full point with week one excluded and their ranking drops into the triple digits. Speaking of triple digits, That’s where Michigan’s field position gap is currently ranked. –3.8 points per game just based on where each drive starts ranks Michigan at 108 out 127 schools in the FBS. State of Michigan schools are first (MSU, +11.2 ppg) and last (EMU, –13.8 ppg) nationally. On defense, Michigan is in the top 25 for both conversion rate and bonus yards per play allowed, but quite a ways away from the national leaders.
2. Individual Performances
Shane Morris, 23 plays: –12.9 pts, –27%
Devin Gardner, 10 plays: +5.8, +1%
Derrick Green, 6 plays: –1.5, –3%
Deveon Smith, 9 plays: +3.1, +8%
Devin Funchess, 12 plays: –1.7, –3%
D. Cobb, 35 plays: +4.4, +3%
M. Leidner, 25 plays: +11.6, +22%
M. Williams, 5 plays: +5.5, +4%
3. Game Chart
The six biggest plays that swung the game
6. –5.6% Cobb runs for 34 yards (early 1st qtr)
5. +6.0% Deveon Smith scores from 10 yards out (early 2nd qtr)
4. –6.5% Leidner scores from 10 yards out on 3rd and 1 for Minnesota’s first score (mid 2nd qtr)
3. +12.4% Ojemuida sacks Leidner to force long FG (mid 3rd qtr)
2. –12.6% Minnesota hits 48 yard field to go up 13 (mid 3d qtr)
1. –16.0% Shane Morris is intercepted and returned for a TD (mid 3rd qtr)
A new piece I’ve put together special for this fun season is the Blame Game. Adding up the win percentage changes by play type to see which types of plays impacted the game the most.
1. –26% Pass offense
2. -15% Opponent kicking
3. –7% Rush offense
All other groups +/- 2%
1 & 3 aren’t much of a surprise. Minnesota’s conversion of a long field goal while the game was still within a possession drove #2.
For the season, rush defense has been the biggest positive (+11%) while the pass offense and the punt team have been major hits.
4. Dumb Punt of the Week
Memphis, Michigan, New Mexico, Texas Tech, Miami (NTM) and Washington all punted in the final five minutes of a game they were trailing by at least 7 points. All faced 10+ yards to convert, but at some point you have to try, right? Trying for all five of these teams meant punting it away, and all five lost on the field, but couldn’t quite pull out the DPotW.
In a completely separate instance from the one noted above, the fighting Bob Davie’s at New Mexico trailed by 11 in the final 10 minutes, faced 4th and 2 at their own 43 versus Fresno State. Fresno State is not good this year, but apparently Davie didn’t want to go for the 2 yards, opting instead to punt the ball away. New Mexico did not win.
5. Outrage quantified
I know we’re contractually obligated to lead with Shane Morris/Dave Brandon but I’m a gunslinger who only plays by his own rules. Above is a chart I put together on a whim based on a tweet from @cdbarker. An attempt to quantify the two parts that Brian later clarified in today’s post. There is an outrage piece that is mostly independent of Michigan’s current record. Then there is a cumulative punishment expectation where this is a piece of the larger picture.
Five games in the numbers have finally turned on Michigan, well after everyone else has. Rutgers hasn’t been that good, but they have definitely been better than Michigan.
Rutgers 20 Michigan 14
Let me put this comment right at the top of the piece since some readers misunderstood my analysis of Charlie Strong. I am NOT writing this piece under the view UM can, will, or should hire James Franklin from PSU.
As the boards have been going through a list of potential candidates, there is a lot of angst over who was missed in the past so I thought I'd do a review of the 2 big hires last year - Charlie Strong & James Franklin to see how they'd compare to current candidates. In that spirit I will review them as if we had an opening after the 2013 season and do a similar format as other coaching candidate reviews. The other big hire of 2013 was Steve Sarkisian but he was sort of a USC or bust candidate and his Pac 12 record is not much different than say what a Dan Mullen is performing.
Here is my piece on Charlie Strong - who again I am NOT implyig UM can or will hire from Texas.
We also took a look back to Sumlin (in relation to Todd Graham) in this piece if interested. Sumlin and Strong actually have some parallels in that both only had 4 years of HC experience before a big name came calling and before their HC experience they were at a major university for a good amount of time. Sumlin was at A&M in 01-02, and then Oklahoma from 03-07. Strong was at Florida from 02-09.
(again this is written as if he has just completed his last year at Vanderbilt, and we have an opening)
"2014" candidate.... James Franklin, age: 41
James Franklin has raised some eyebrows by helping lead a quite horrible Vanderbilt football program up from the dredges of the SEC (East - the easier division) to a very respectable status. Vanderbilt is a highly respected academic institution as well, which would help in his case for the open UM job. Before becoming a head coach he was an offensive coordinator at Kansas State and Maryland; and before that he was a WR coach at multiple spots.
Unlike the other hot candidate this year - Charlie Strong - Franklin does not have a background at strong football schools as he rose up the ranks. I will also show below his stint as a coordinator is nowhere near as impressive as Strong's, even adjusting for the schools he coached at. However, he is fiery, outgoing, a type A, with a big personality that has a lot of intangibles that you look for in a head coach. He is also known as a very strong recruiter at Vanderbilt. He does bring some baggage points with his public views on how he judges assistant coaches and similar type items.
Recent (10 years) coaching background
- 2005: WR at GB Packers (this is his only NFL stint)
- 2006-2007: OC/QB at Kansas State - in his mid 30s
- 2008-2010: OC at Maryland - in his late 30s
- 2011-2013: HC at Vanderbilt
Analysis: James Franklin moves around a lot; in a span from 2005 to 2011 he had 4 jobs. Many UM fans seem to penalize young up and coming coaches for being aggressive and changing jobs to move up the ladder quickly ("job hoppers") but I don't. Franklin also got his first coordinator job very young, similar to Dave Doeren.
Obviously Franklin came up on the offensive side of the ball - which is ironic, because his strength at Vanderbilt was defense not offense. Which makes me wonder if his defensive coordinator at Vandy (Bob Shoop) is the key man in Vandy's operation.
In terms of Big 10 footprint, Franklin is not super strong - unless you count Maryland as part of the Big 10 footprint. Franklin does have a lot of experience on the eastern seaboard which I do believe (between NJ and Virginia) is going to be a massively important area for a Big 10 coach over the next decades as the Midwest population shrinks. Vanderbilt is in Tennessee so perhaps you can make a stretch and say he has some exposure to at least Ohio. Like Dan Mullen, he was born in PA so he gets "Midwest cred" for that I suppose.
Caveat for results ----> (a) nothing exists in a vacuum (b) as a coordinator you can benefit or be penalized if your HC is good or bad or average (c) injuries or graduation can change your results dramatically in any 1 year. This is the type of stuff you'd research as an AD staff on every potential candidate.
I will break down his results at 3 time frames - OC at Kansas State, OC at Maryland, HC at Vanderbilt
(1) OC at Kansas State
Upon first glance at his coaching progression I was VERY happy to see Franklin had experience at Kansas State, thinking he was touched by one of the best coaches in the NCAA the past 2 decades - Bill Synder. He who not once but twice created an excellent program at KSU - a wasteland of football. But alas, upon closer inspection Franklin was at KSU in that period of time between the two Snyder eras - under Ron Prince. Downer. That said any guy getting a OC job at a Big 5 conference job at this young age is a positive. Below is the chart of Franklin's results in his 2 years at KSU along with the year before he arrived (2005).
|W/L||Tot Off||Tot Def|
There is nothing special or unspecial about Franklin's short stint. 2005 was Snyder's last year in reign 1 at KSU and had a 45 total offense ranking. 2006 was a big drop with Franklin but allowing for first year adjustments it is difficult to penalize someone too much. And by his 2nd he had KSU right back to where it was ranked under Snyder. So we'll give this an average at the 40,000 foot point of view.
Now what Franklin can call as his claim to fame is the early development of future NFL QB Josh Freeman. Freeman came to KSU in 2006 and took over the job with 8 games to go. In 2007 Freeman threw for over 3000 yards as a sophomore which is quite impressive. So Franklin had that in his back pocket.
(2) OC at Maryland
In 2008, Franklin returned to Maryland where he had been a WR coach in 2000-2004. This was a reuniting of Franklin with Ralph Friedgen who started his career early at Maryland with a boom (10-2, 11-3, 10-2 his first 3 years) before settling into a pattern of mostly average seasons the rest of his time there. By the time Franklin returned to Maryland the program has become entirely middle of the road in the ACC. Let's see how he did with the offense in his 3 years versus the prior year (2007).
|W/L||Tot Off||Tot Def|
All in all - uninspiring. In Franklin's first year he did provide some decent improvement, taking the 2007 tire fire offense and making it average. But then the 2009 offense fell right back into a tire fire. (Maryland was 2-10 that year) 2010 was not much better. There is nothing here to excite. What's strange is Maryland as a whole was not bad in 2008 and 2010; they were 8-5 and 9-4 those 2 years, but it must have been more due to defense.
I am not a Maryland football fan so I dont know the entire back story but after 2010, Friedgen was fired after a 9-4 season and a #24 AP ranking. Randy Edsall was hired away from UConn... instead of James Franklin. Which makes sense as Franklin did not have much of a track record to stand on.
(3) HC at Vanderbilt
Per Wikipedia, Al Golden and Larry Coker were leading candidates for the open Vanderbilt job. Guz Malzahn was offered the job and turned it down. So Franklin was sort of the 4th choice. People who support Dan Mullen say Miss State is a nearly impossible job to do well at. Well Vanderbilt must be like Miss State... except with academic standards. A very difficult place to build a winner.
Let's see how James Franklin did at his time at Vandy and how he stacked up versus the prior year (2010) with Robbie Caldwell; currently the OL coach at Clemson.
|W/L||Tot Off||Tot Def|
We can see at the top level immediate improvement at Vandy in W/L in 2011 and then an astounding 9 wins in 2012 and 2013. The offense was a tire fire when Franklin showed up and remained so during his 3 years. I mean 90ish is horrid. Where the bread was buttered was defense - fantastic statistics especially in the SEC conference where teams are subjected to an array of talented skill players on offense. I consider a "20" ranking in the SEC to be "8-10" in the Big 10 when adjusting for the slog that is Big 10/MAC offenses which is what most Big 10 defenses face for 10 of their 12 games.
Now this does bring up a question to me - Franklin was an average to mediocre OC for the prior 5 years. His offense continued to suck his 3 years at Vandy. That is 8 years of offense between "suck" and "average". Did he suddenly turn into a defensive guru in 3 years? Or was his DC the man behind the machine? I have no idea. I did do some quick research on his DC who is named Bob Shoop - and is a very bright man who graduated from Yale. Before latching on with Vandy, Shoop was DC at William & Mary. He also had a very bad stint as a HC with Columbia in 2003-2005. Without being inside the walls of Vandy football one never knows in this situation who is the key to one side of the ball being so good... but it is an interesting question. However, if Franklin were to be hired at UM, one would want Shoop to come along. Because whatever they did together, it is working. And leave the OC at Vandy!
The overall record obviously improved so let's look at some key results in Franklin's 3 years:
Analysis of wins and losses
The 2011 Commodores were 6-7, and 2-6 in the SEC East. Considering how bad the team had been the prior year that's a very good improvement. Wins that year were against: Elon, UConn, (2-10) Ole Miss, Army, (5-7) Kentucky, and (6-7) Wake Forest. So no world beaters there but again - this is Vandy coming off a 2-10 year. Losses were to 5 eventual ranked teams (Arkansas, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Cincinnati) - all expected. Florida was only 7-6 that year but still was an expected loss when you consider the difference in athletes. The only "bad loss" was to a 5-7 (1-7 SEC) Dooley led Tennessee; but that game in OT. All in all, Vandy found a way to beat bad and mediocre teams and aside from Tennessee they lost to teams they should have. The Georgia, Florida (a down Florida), Cincinnati and Arkansas losses were also within 1 TD so that is a bonus - that's the benefit of good defense.
2012 Vanderbilt finished 9-4 (5-3) and ranked in the top 25 - the first time they had done that since 1948! This was their first winning record since 1982. So this is Gary Barnett at Northwestern type of achievements. All 4 losses came in the first 6 games so Vandy finished off 2012 with great momentum. Losses were to 3 eventual top 10 teams (South Carolina, Florida, Georgia) and Northwestern who finished top 20 (10-3). So in terms of quality of losses you won't find a better 4 losses for any team in the country. And the South Carolina game was only 4 pts while the other games were not quite as close. Now on the flip side the SEC East was not great that year - the 3 top teams were all teams Vandy lost to. The other 3 - Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky were all bad outfits. This was Missouri's first year in the SEC, between them they went 3-21 in he SEC. Vandy also had crossovers with 3-9 Auburn, and 7-6 Ole Miss so it was a very favorable schedule as far as SEC schedules goes. But again this is Vandy fergodsakes. NC State was beaten in a bowl.
2013 was very similar to 2012 with a 9-4 (4-4) record. Two losses were to eventual top 10 teams (Missouri, South Carolina) and another loss was to top 20 Texas A&M. The other game to a decent Ole Miss team. Again this was a favorable schedule - Florida stunk under Muschamp, Georgia was 8-5, Kentucky was Kentucky, and Tennessee was 5-7. Vandy must play Wake Forest every year because all 3 years at Vandy Franklin played Wake Forest and won. The season closed out with a win versus an ok 8-5 Houston. So quality of wins was not super - really it was Georgia and then beating up on a lot of bad SEC teams plus Wake Forest, Houston, and 3 baby seals. The losses made sense altough the defense did get blown off the field by A&M and Missouri (>50 pts given up each)
James Franklin is an interesting candidate but surely not a home run...or even a triple; Charlie Strong's resume looks a lot better from this set of eyes. He does have Josh Freeman's first 2 years at KSU as a feather in his cap but the performance at Maryland was wholly uninspiring. Despite rising up the ranks on the offensive side of the ball he has no great offenses like a Sumlin or Graham has had. That said, what he did in terms of W/L at Vanderbilt is very similar to what Gary Barnett did at Northwestern but Franklin did it in a much shorter time frame. Now to be fair most of Franklin's wins were not against the best competition in the SEC or out of conference but still...it's Vanderbilt. Recruiting improved significantly under Franklin as well.
The key to Vanderbilt's resurgence was defense - which is not Franklin's apparent background. So an open question sits out there as to if Bob Shoop is the grinder behind the scenes while Franklin is the face. That is not necessarily a bad thing per se, unless Shoop gets offered a HC opportunity down the line - then if Franklin is not the key behind the defensive performance you could have serious issues. Also Franklin does have some "PR" issues with some of his public statements the past few years. And his Big 10 footprint outside from "being born in PA" is not great - however he does have good East Coast presence. Winning at a strong academic program might also make Dave Brandon look very closely at Franklin. Franklin is also a very assertive, outgoing, personable type who you can see as a sensible "face" for a major program so on the intangibles measures, Franklin would score well.
One thing that has really bugged me (even before this Morris mess) is that we have heard from many people in the Michigan Family who support and some who endorsed Brady for the HC job, but publicly seem to have done nothing to help him succeed. Granted, I don’t have access to Brady’s phone to check if he is getting some informal counseling, but I would assume we would hear about any trips with the staff outside of the visit to the Lions (you can debate the merits of watching Schwartz run a team) to provide insight and help a person like Brady who is in a “stretch role” as our HC. I would find it unusual if nobody in the Michigan Family had any prior reservations about Brady’s ability to run a program of our size and honestly didn’t think that maybe the guy could use some help.
· Where was Lloyd in getting him, Mo and Brady together for a weekly roundtable to talk about running a program? Mo also knows a thing or two about designing offenses, might pick up some good ideas. I bet Bo counseled Lloyd when Lloyd became the HC.
· Where was Mattison, who served under Urban and John H, in thinking that the program at UM might not be functioning at the same level as other successful programs he has been associated with. Maybe, some sharing with John’s staff might be a good thing to coordinate, I doubt John would have turned him down. Hell, maybe stop by to see Pagano for some tips, not like our guys are never in Indy.
· It is great that Brady and Hutchinson stopped by for autographs, but what about arranging a visit to Belichick to see how he runs his team? Did Hutchinson not notice anything that could be improved during the practice he went to last year? Nothing that he might want to share with his friend regarding the offensive line?
· Where is his brother John, who works for the “Quarterback Whisperer” in Chicago and also has Aaron Kromer on the staff who is an OL savant, in arranging some exchange sessions to gain insights in areas Brady is admittedly not strong in. Again, not like Chicago is an unusual travel destination. I don’t know Trestman personally, but he seems like a really nice guy in every presser, I am fairly certain he would do a favor for someone on his staff.
I will give Jim and Les a pass for not doing any favors for the alma mater if they truly don’t like Brandon, but the above is a small subset of all the people that could have been providing some guidance or advice to help Brady succeed. I would have been thrilled to see any of it happen and not see any attempt at learning as a negative toward the program. Again, maybe all of the above did occur, all of it behind closed doors and none of it sunk in or mattered. The only thing I do know, which is public, is that the active guidance Brady was getting was from the Pizza Man who sat in meetings and I am sure offered his two cents. If that is the case, the Michigan Family has failed just as badly as Brady. It is all water under the bridge at this point, I’m just dumbfounded how one of our best assets never became one
I'm cognizant that this information is a day late but it is still important and still worth educating everyone about. When people ask why I'm so mad, as a medical provider, this is why.
What is a concussion?
A Concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that interferes with normal function of the brain. You cannot “see” a concussion on a CT or MRI scan and it is a clinical diagnosis based on patient history and symptoms, you do not have to have loss of consciousness (LOC) to have a concussion. Car crashes and sports injury are the leading causes of concussions Concussions occur as a result of imparted linear and rotational accelerations of the brain that causes neurons to potentially twist or shear causing cell damage or cell death. Headache is the most common sign of a concussion, along with confusion, difficulty sleeping, amnesia(retrograde or anterograde), dizziness, fatigue, loss of consciousness, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, visual disturbances, feeling "in a fog," sensitivity to light or sound, lack of focus, delayed motor responses, loss of balance, slurred speech, and vacant or glazed over stare.
From the American Academy of Neurology
•Grade I –Mild
–Short term confusion, post event amnesia, symptoms resolve in < 15 minutes
This is most likely what Shane had.
•Grade 2 –Moderate
–Symptoms last > 15 minutes
–Again NO LOC
•Grade 3 –Severe
–ANY Loss of Consciousness, plus above symptoms
Return to Play
Grade 1 Mild
–Remove from contest
–Examine every 5 minutes for amnesia or post concussive symptoms.
–Return to activity after 1 full week without symptoms
Grade 2 Moderate (symptoms last longer than 15 minutes)
–Remove from contest
–Cannot return to play that day
–Examine on site on a frequent basis for signs of evolving intracranial problems
–Medical re-examination the next day
–CT or MRI if symptoms last more than one week
–Return to activity after 1 full week without symptoms
Grade 3 Severe
–Ambulance transport from field
–Emergent medical full neurological exam to include brain and spine, with possible CT and/or MRI
–May go home that day with head injury instructions if otherwise stable
–Hospital admission if symptomatic
–For LOC < 1 minute, return to play only after asymptomatic for 1 week
–For LOC > 1 minute, return to play only after asymptomatic for 2 weeks
So why are concussions so dangerous in football??
Second Impact Syndrome
Second Impact Syndrome is a condition in which the brain swells rapidly and potentially fatally after a person suffers a second concussion before symptoms from an earlier one have subsided. It is often times fatal, and if not fatal then it leaves the person permanently disabled. It is caused by blood vessels in the brain losing the ability to regulate their own diameter and results in massive overload of blood to the brain causing rapid swelling as the skull is a fixed space. This usually leads to brain herniation and then death.
The 6 ‘No Go’ signs
•Loss of Consciousness
•New and/or persistent symptoms, such as headache and nausea
•Abnormal neurological findings, such as balance issues, (remember Shane stumbling?)
•Progressive, persistent, or worsening symptoms
I was surprised no one mentioned or at least I haven’t seen anyone mention the 2012 Steelers/Browns game where James Harrison hit Colt McCoy.
McCoy sent back into the game 2 plays later and less than 5 minutes after being hit. The hit was a near mirror image of what happened to Shane. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfFW-Yezv0k
What can we do about it?
The biggest thing is to increase awareness of the general public. Encourage the public to demand player safety. Unfortunately, this incident with Shane is not how you’d like to increase awareness. Rather it needs to start with education of parents, coaches and players as soon as they begin playing football(or other high impact sport) and continue throughout their career. The macho rub some dirt on it culture needs to stop right now. Eventually it will lead to a player being killed or disabled on the field. The push for helmets with impact sensors needs to continue. And if I am being frank, they should be mandatory across all levels of football and if they detect a hit with an impact that could cause potential brain injury pull that player from the game.
Mandatory coach education is a must, and I realize many places it is already the standard but it still is clearly is not enough as we have seen. Once you get to the major college and pro level certified athletic trainers and neurologists need to be on the sidelines or in the booth and preferably both. They need the power to override coaches and refs. Period. If we're to be serious about player safety this needs to happen on the college level immediately as the NFL is getting to this point already.
Moreover, all high impact sport governing bodies need to be absolutely punitive when it comes to head injuries, if you directly target someone with a head or neck shot you are gone immediately from that game and from the next. No exceptions, even if it is accidental. It may sound harsh and I admit it is, but at this point it is necessary.
If there is any doubt about a head injury sit the player out, start cognitive testing and no return to play on that same day even if the symptoms resolve or aren’t readily apparent. Brain injuries can take time before symptoms become readily apparent.
Because really how important is a game compared to being alive?
Preface: Normally, these write-ups are reserved for post-game analyses on the student experience. Given the events of the last few days, and the amount that the student experience has been front and center, I felt it necessary to speak to some of the points I’ve heard raised about everything going on. I apologize for the length.
The situation regarding the job status of Michigan’s current athletic director has obviously been at the forefront of any news regarding the university. While many, many fellow students I’ve spoken to are upset with the AD for a variety of reasons, and many are supportive of the calls for his resignation, some have voiced concern that the events have been perceived as directed at the players. Some have lamented the vociferous impugnation of the character and motives of the coaching staff. Still others have expressed a desire that students get upset about something that “actually matters”. While I cannot speak for any student on campus besides myself, what follows is my perspective on the matter, which is consistent with the conversations that I have had with other students as well.
- I fully support the players. As someone who hasn’t played any form of organized sport since playing baseball in middle school, I have absolutely no appreciation for the amount of work that these athletes put in. I hear stories; I read accounts. But there is no way that I will ever have a good grasp about the sacrifices that these players make day in and day out for the team. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t respect the hell out of them for it. In all my frustrations I have never and will never direct that at a student. I may lament the youthful inexperience. I may lament that players are not always put in the best position to succeed. I may get upset with the occasional poor decision or missed tackle. But my support for these students doesn’t stop. Look at Gardner, a student who sacrificed tremendously (especially physically) for the team in his years so far. Not to mention working to get an M.S.W. in the process. Look at the walk-ons busting their ass to contribute despite not being on scholarship (or not having been on scholarship). Look at Shane Morris, who took a hit that would have any of us calling in from our desk jobs for a week, still wanting to give his all for the team. The list goes on and on but the point is that neither I nor any other student I’ve talked to wants any of this aimed at the players. We’ve tried to time our boos or our frustration such that it was clear in the intent—that we were booing a hit, a time management decision, a personnel decision. We were never booing one of our own players. When Shane Morris remained in the game and when he re-entered a few minutes later, boos erupted from the stadium. To Shane, those may have appeared to be aimed at him. To Shane and to any other players that may have felt as though such booing or frustration were aimed at them, I apologize. Unfortunately, in such a situation, myself and those around me were so stunned by what we were witnessing, so horrified by the prospect that a clearly concussed player was going to remain in the game, so worried for his very safety, that we felt we had to do something and in that moment, booing was nearly all we had. Students around me yelled “Shane it’s not worth it,” they pleaded with staff that couldn’t hear them to acknowledge that Shane was clearly injured, they tried to do something, anything to make someone notice what was going on. But all Shane could hear were the “boos”. And that is a shame. I wish he could have heard the reasoning, could have heard the students yelling for fear of his safety. I wish he could have seen in that moment that booing was one of the only ways left to convey our support of him and more importantly, his safety. I wish Shane and all the other injured players a speedy recovery, and I wish the players nothing but success. I at least am behind you, and I know many others are as well.
- I do not, for a second, believe that Brady Hoke intentionally endangered one of his players. Hoke may not be the best coach that Michigan has ever had. He may have a hard time getting wins on the road. He may not be great at developing talent given to him. He may be a lot of things. “Malicious” is not one of them. From everything I’ve seen from former players, from people that have met him, from everything I’ve read, Hoke is a great person, a great mentor, and a coach that loves all of his players and wants to get the best for them. And that “best” certainly does not include subjecting them to potentially life-threatening injury. I believe that Hoke did not know that Shane was as bad off as he was, was depending on staff to make him aware of the status changes of his players, and made a decision with the woefully limited information that he had available. That does not make him evil. At the same time, however, it does not absolve him of responsibility. As the coach he is responsible for what transpires on the sideline. He is responsible for making sure that there are personnel monitoring what they should be monitoring and is ultimately responsible for the safety and wellbeing of his players. I agree with Hoke when he said that attacking his character or his integrity was unwarranted; but I still think that he should not remain head coach. I honestly feel bad for him. He loves his players; he loves the school; he’s pushed the players to be good people as well as good players; he’s been put in a no-win situation by the AD and left to twist in the wind; but he has demonstrated that he is not up to the task of leading the team, especially in the moments where it is most necessary, and a player’s health was jeopardized as a result.
- Yes, this is about the concussion. No, it is not *only* about the concussion. Ire at Brandon and the athletic department has been building for years. If you ask any signatory on the petition why they signed it they’ll likely have a different story than the others. The common theme will be a tone-deaf department that has finally gone off the rails. Are we upset about the losses? Of course we are. Would we be signing a petition and protesting in front of the President’s house if we were 2-3, things looked bleak for the season, but the AD was not actively alienating students and apparently trying to massage the press release regarding leaving a concussed player in the game? I was here in 2008, and while, as a freshman, I wasn’t as clued in to the events on campus as I am now, I’m pretty confident the answer is “no”. Win or lose the students’ frustration with the AD has been building for years. The tinder was set, and mishandling a concussion, and then subsequently mishandling the mishandling of the concussion, was all the spark needed to set the whole thing ablaze.
- This does actually matter. Is it ultimately as important as situations in Ferguson? As the situation in the Middle East? As so many other big issues in the world today? No, it isn’t. The difference is immediacy. Can the students here protest and change anything in Ferguson? Probably not. Can they stop ISIS? No. But they damn well can raise enough hell that someone takes notice of problems here—problems that students can directly see and feel. Should students be getting upset about other things as well? Absolutely. But I’m not about to be dismissive of them standing up on the right side of an issue just because they aren’t standing up for something else.
To end, let me say that, as a student, I simply cannot stay away from any of the home games I’ve already purchased tickets to. Depending on scheduling I may even go to Evanston to see the team. I need to support the team. I need to support the players. Hell, with all that’s going on—and I still believe that change is necessary—the coaches could probably use a little support, too. What I will not do, however, is support what this department has become. I will not support Dave Brandon. I hope that that distinction is clear.