"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
In today's Unverified Voracity Brian brings up the dreaded, controversial "maize" issue. And in this column he asserts something utterly shocking: that Michigan's color of "maize" is actually an orangey yellow
I like Brian's writing. He is spot-on in a lot of areas. But this is not one of them.
One of the problems with this debate is that proper photographic color identification is impossible. Colors vary across photographs and across screens. However, there is one area where pictures can be helpful: single picture like-to-like comparisons. So let's do some.
I've grown up on Michigan. I have images of Michigan games burned into my mind from the time I was five. I remember how incredible it was to sit in Michigan Stadium in person and see the team rush under the banner onto the field, the brilliant winged helmets swarming together in crystal clear real life definition.
I also remember watching games in person and in television, and being struck by the significance of the colors being worn by the teams. Particularly my team.
Take Iowa, for example.
You might think that this visible contrast in yellows is merely a product of Adidas color work.
You would be wrong.
Hey, look, it's the eighties.
I vividly remember watching a game in Iowa City on television and being struck by how stark the contrast was between Michigan's lighter maize and Iowa's orangey yellow. And that memory struck me in the late 80s.
Is there another team that uses a yellow that could be described as orangey? Why yes, there is.
Again, Michigan's contrast with Minnesota's "gold" color of yellow is not a recent Adidas innovation.
And into antiquity.
A couple of Rose Bowls:
I've made my point. Now, there is some valid objection to this: I've featured exclusively football. And that's notable, because one of Michigan's peculiarities is that the colors of "maize" are not the same across all sports or garments.
And I think that's where a lot of the confusion comes from. What Brian describes sounds suspiciously like the all-too-common "maize" t-shirts sold at places like Steve & Berry's that were, in fact, rather orangey, and bore little resemblance to the actual color of "maize" worn on playing surfaces. Other products (including those kid football costumes that I had in 1986) had similar issues. They were wrong but they were there.
And that color also appeared in other areas. For example, the playing field of Michigan Stadium, notably after the first installation of fieldturf. And, very prominently, the M Go Blue banner.
The fact is that Michigan has long had a bit of a "maize" problem. Now, in my opinion, the maize that has been traditionally worn by the football team is the ideal standard, but it has also long been true that many of the other teams wear a slightly different color. The Fab Five era basketball team, for example.
Don't believe me? There's a handy way to tell for sure: The hockey team has long had its helmets painted the same color as the football team, but the fabric of its uniforms is made to the non-football "maize" color. How did that turn out?
Again, this is across Nike and Adidas. It is slightly less noticeable when the superior-looking dazzle fabrics are used on the hockey jersey, but it's still a problem (the once-worn maize non-dazzle non-underlined script jersey that was introduced in the fall of 2002 was the clearest example of this and was quickly scrapped for a series of dazzle jerseys).
This is not to say that the worst of the "highlighter" colors Adidas has produced have not also been a problem. Indeed, my time away from Ann Arbor in the last ten years has kept the "real" colors of "maize" alive in my mind, and when the hockey team emerged from the locker room for the hockey regional in Green Bay that I attended, I was absolutely and unpleasantly shocked by the color of the jerseys in person.
However, the early responses have been disappointing. The recent darkening of the helmet stripes was absolutely the wrong way to go and it looks terrible, even on television. It needs to be flipped back right away. If there need to be two different colors of "maize," fine. The late-90s/early 00s colors were fine. But an "orangey" color would be a travesty.
Go Blue. Go Maize. And may it always look like this.
He got a second opinion, decided to continue to play football and transferred to Stanford where ultimately he had an episode related to his condition and had to retire from football. Fortunately, the story ends well; he recovered and eventually got his degree from Stanford in Economics.
The story does bring up some interesting points for consideration:
- Stanford has/had a very good medical staff, so opinions on whether a kid can stll safely play can diffier even among highly qualified health professionals;
- There are players (college and NFL) who have successfully played with this condition; the same likely also applies to joint arthritis/damage, concussions etc; it's a matter of how much risk the team/player is willing to accept;
- Any protocol for determining fitness to continue playing would by nature be subjective, and medical ethics aside, could potentially be abused by programs;
- 18-21 year old kids aren't renowned for their ability to assess the long term implications of their decisions and actions.
So, my non double blind experiment observations on this are as follows: If the team medical staff makes a recommendation that the player not suit up again, there's likely a 5 sigma probability the football staff will follow suit; the legal , image and liability implications are way too high. If it's the football staff making the recommendation without official endorsement from the medical staff, there is muddy water.
Checking in with Michigan’s NBA Wolverines --
Knicks Sell Low, Hawks Hope to Buy High on THJ
On June 25th, the New York Knicks traded Tim Hardaway Jr. for the draft rights to Jerian Grant, taken by the Atlanta Hawks at pick #19. Atlanta, which had traded back from #15 – part of Brooklyn’s trade for Joe Johnson – eventually also acquired two future second-round picks from Washington in addition to Hardaway, the former Wolverine who is now entering his third season in the NBA.
The trade, from Atlanta’s point of view, was considered a mistake, earning a “D” grade from ESPN’s Kevin Pelton:
After a solid rookie season, Hardaway regressed badly in Year 2, making just 34.3 percent of his 3-pointers and posting a below-average true shooting percentage. Hardaway needs to be a knockdown shooter because he's such a liability at the other end of the floor… Perhaps the Hawks believe that in their system they can develop Hardaway into a capable defender… Consider me skeptical…
During the draft, #NBATwitter was shocked at the move:
The Knicks getting a 1st for Tim Hardaway Jr is...wow.
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) June 26, 2015
@m0beatZ I have faith in the Hawks to develop him, but he's so awful defensively, it wouldn't be hard to find someone
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) June 27, 2015
I would have traded Tim Hardaway straight up for the 60th pick, so
— Seth Rosenthal (@seth_rosenthal) June 26, 2015
Knicks get their point guard in Jerian Grant. Hawks get Tim Hardaway. Winner? Knicks.
— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) June 26, 2015
Enjoy Tim Hardaway Jr., Atlanta. He's very good at taking shots. Also, being related to former NBA players. Also, other stuff, I'm sure.
— ☕netw3rk (@netw3rk) June 26, 2015
Even if Atlanta “lost” the trade, the clear short- and long-term winner in this deal is Hardaway – regardless of how the 19th pick (Notre Dame superstar senior point guard Jerian Grant, who also has NBA bloodlines, was taken, but Delon Wright, Justin Anderson, Bobby Portis, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and Tyus Jones were also available) turns out, the Knicks parlayed an expendable asset (which was evidently overvalued with that pick) into Grant’s potential as a starting NBA point guard and Hardaway moves from the 17-win Knicks to the 60-win Hawks at a critical juncture in his career.
New York was the worst NBA team in several advanced metrics last season and, because of trades and injuries, the only players to play in at least half of their games (with a minimum of 1,000 total minutes) were Shane Larkin, Jason Smith, Hardaway, Langston Galloway, Quincy Acy, and Jose Calderon. Of those guys, Calderon and Smith had the highest career PER numbers; theoretically, Hardaway was the third-best player on the most abysmal team in the league. That might actually be overstating things, because it’s hard to accurately measure defensive impact and Hardaway was frequently criticized for a lack of ability and / or effort on that end of the floor.
In hindsight, getting drafted by the Knicks was clearly poor for Timmy’s career development. After declaring for the draft in the weeks following Michigan’s Final Four run, Hardaway parlayed a strong set of workouts and what was perceived to be a weak draft class into a first round contract with New York. Tim was pretty solid as a rookie – he tallied 20 or more points ten times and shot 130-358 (36%) from three, a solid clip and substantial volume. He finished fifth in Rookie of the Year voting and wound up on the first-team All-Rookie team alongside Michael Carter-Williams, Victor Oladipo, Trey Burke, and Mason Plumlee. Although the ‘13 draft class has seemed as mediocre as predicted, Hardaway did have a better rookie season than two players with potential star power – the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Rudy Gobert (a French center who plays with Trey in Utah).
[After THE JUMP: there is no sauce affiliated with Philly.]
Putting this up here so I have a link instead of a many-paragraphed email to respond to the question "How do I buy your book?"
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"Time is a Flat Football" is a series of posts which will explore players from Michigan football history members of the 2015 team resembles the most. Tackled in these posts will be the offensive "skill" position groups: Quarterbacks, Running Backs, and Receivers/Tight Ends. My apologies go out to the offensive line, but it's very difficult to get o-line statistics, and more difficult to compare the groups.
Disclaimer: Obviously caveats do apply here. These are namely the effects of other position groups, coaching, and style of offense on the players being analyzed. I plan to deal with these issues by completely ignoring them. It's the off season, people.
This year's QB race appears to be between RS Sr transfer Jake Rudock and true Jr Shane Morris. We've watched Morris for the last few years and have become acquainted with Rudock's work thanks to a number of front page and board posts on the newly minted Wolverine. Let's take a look at their stats, gathered from sports-reference.com.
Before we get going, here's a list of a few of explanations for statistics shown above (and a few that are included later).
- Cls - Class (1 - Freshman, 2 - Sophomore, etc)
- Pct - Completion Percentage (Cmp/Att)
- Y/A - Passing Yards per Attempt
- AY/A - Adjusted Yards per Attempt ( [Yds + 20 * TD - 45 * Int] / Att)
- Rate - QB Rating ( [8.4 * Yds + 330 * TD - 200 * Int + 100 * Cmp] / Att)
- TD/Int - (TD - Int)
Rudock is the more experienced of the two, with a full season's worth of starter snaps to look at. Let's fire up the time machine and see who looks similar statistically.
(Rudock and Kirk Ferentz, whose right hand is reserved for things other than high fives.)
Like Rudock, each of these players completed their RS Jr season and stuck around for their RS Sr year. As has been covered by others, an apt comparison for RS Junior Rudock is RS Junior Gardner from the 2013 season. Attempts, completion percentages, and TD/Int ratio are very similar. The major difference between 2013 Gardner and 2014 Rudock is in the yardage, where Gardner averaged about 1.5 more Yds/Att and 1.1 more Adjusted Yds/Att. This can be interpreted in two ways: either Gardner threw downfield more often or Rudock's receivers were lousy at picking up yards after the catch.
Beyond the Gardner comparisons, Rudock appears to be a less turnover prone version of 1998 RS Junior Tom Brady, which is nice. Rudock had 22 more attempts than Brady and 5 less INTs with a TD/Int ratio of +11 to Brady's +4. The Y/Att and Adjusted Y/Att are very similar, and the QB Ratings are damn near identical. Let's see how these RS Junior QBs (and more specifically Brady) progressed between their final years.
The overwhelming evidence here suggests that Michigan quarterbacks have already reached their full potential by the 4 year mark. There are a few major outliers here, with guys like Jim Harbaugh and Devin Gardner taking a major step back in their TD/Int ratio. Generally fifth year senior QBs have higher completion percentages compared to their RS junior years, while also throwing a few more interceptions.
As far as what we can expect from Rudock based on this data, we should see him remain largely the same. If he is Tom Brady 2.0 he might see a bump in his TD/Int ratio, but given that Tom Brady was operating at a much less efficient pace than Rudock, I wouldn't expect much change there. Insert the mitigating factors such as a new school, new coach, and new system, and I'd expect Rudock to operate at a lower level this year, perhaps only due to a limited playbook and increased reliance on a running game I expect Harbaugh to be pretty stubborn on getting to work.
Bottom Line: Jake Rudock should have a season similar to RS Sr Tom Brady (1999).
The 1999 team went 10-2 and most notably beat OSU and Alabama. Brady had help in the form of Anthony Thomas and David Terrell, both of which compare very favorably to guys on the 2015 roster. If you're a glass half full kinda guy Rudock will be drafted in the sixth round by the Patriots and should ditch Tinder for a Victoria's Secret catalog. If you're like me you might be worried about Rudock's supporting cast. Still, a guy like Rudock should be able to come in and Alabama QB the 2015 Michigan squad to a decent offensive season.
(from @umichfootball, for some reason)
Now let's say Shane Morris wins the starting job come September. In this case we'll want to compare him to other players with limited playing experience. Below is a list of Michigan QBs who took on either the starting role or a significant portion of the QB snaps after seeing a similar amount of game experience to Shane Morris. Note that many of these QBs have a little more experience in terms of Attempts. Also, keep in mind that these comparisons have only been made for QBs who started or played significant portions of their upperclassmen careers. Morris may become one of these guys or he could spend the season as the backup and get another chance at the starting gig next year.
At this point Morris has seen two seasons of limited action. His stats from last year look...rough, so I'll mostly be using his 2013 stats in comparisons. I believe (hope) his 2013 stats more accurately represent what he's capable of doing. The table above also shows other Michigan QBs since 1975 with similar experience who went on to start as upperclassmen. I made the cutoff at no more than 110 Attempts in a season and no less than 20, which did include starter Rick Leach who showed up just as the forward pass was gaining traction.
A couple things stick out right away here: Morris looks similar to a number of QBs who were fairly successful. Rick Leach (who started both the 1975 and 1976 seasons) had one similarly uninspiring season to Morris' 2014, as far as Completion Percentage goes, and also a tough time with turnovers. The best comparison to Morris' freshman season might actually be Todd Collins' 1991 sophomore campaign. The completion percentages are nearly identical, as are the Yards/Attempt. Sample sizes are obviously small, but these are guys who were primarily coming off the bench at that point in their career.
The more troubling thing that sticks out here is that Morris' sophomore season was significantly less promising than his freshman season. Every important stat went in the wrong direction. His TD/Int ratio is similar to Denard's 2009 freshman campaign. Morris may be mobile for a quarterback who isn't known for his speed, but he does not have Robinson's running ability to make up for his passing. What does this mean? I don't know exactly. Let's see how each of these guys turned out the next season.
Todd Collins, arguably the most similar QB to Morris, put up the most impressive next season. After seeing a moderate number of snaps during his Sophomore and Junior years, he made an important leap from his to his Senior year in Adjusted Y/Att, jumping from 6.9 to 8.6. Morris is in a similar situation this year, after seeing limited action his Freshman and Sophomore years.
Based on the rest of these seasons, it appears that we should expect a small degree of improvement in nearly all important statistics if we see a JR Shane Morris starting this season. A "Todd Collins"-like jump is best case scenario, and at that point we'd be looking at a relatively efficient and effective QB.
However, if we apply the average improvement numbers for newly minted starting QBs entering their third year of play to Morris' freshman (best) season, we're looking at a guy averaging about 5.9 Y/A and 4.0 AY/A, which is most comparable to a RS Sophomore John Navarre (6.3 Y/A, 5.8 AY/A). Morris' numbers are obviously significantly lower, which is in part due to Ints making up a decent proportion of his Attempts. Hopefully he's a victim of a small sample size and not poor decision making.
Bottom Line: Should he start, Shane Morris could have a season similar to RS Sophomore John Navarre (2001).
While Navarre was not the most efficient QB in terms of Completion Percentage (just 53.8%), he was asked to shoulder a lot of the offensive load that year, attempting 346(!) passes on a team with both B.J. Askew and Chris Perry on the roster. Somehow this team didn't have a 1,000 yd rusher. The 2001 team went 8-4, which seems like a reasonable expectation for this year. The major caveat to this comparison is that John Navarre's supporting cast included All-American WR Marquise Walker, a luxury Morris will have to do without.
What Does It All Mean?
Whether Rudock or Morris wins the starting spot, we're probably going to be looking at a borderline competent starter at worst and a pretty damn good one at best. Not very comforting, I know. Let me know what you guys think, and what I missed!
I was like many Mgobloggers yesterday in being unhappy to learn of the acrimonious end of Ondre Pipkins’ career at Michigan but also uncertain of whether the coaching staff did anything wrong. Regardless of the specifics of Pipkins’ situation, it raises this difficult question:
When is it appropriate to for a player to take a medical hardship? Edit: I presented the question I addressed below poorly. The question is: When - if ever - is it appropriate for a program to try to impose a medical hardship on a player? The analysis below is from the point of view of the school. I thought that was obvious, but it was not.
I think we can all agree that a medical hardship is appropriate when a player, his doctor(s), and the coaching staff all determine that the player cannot or should not play football again. This is the Platonic ideal of medical hardships. It doesn’t require discussion, because of what I assume to be a consensus on its propriety.
Reality rarely fits, though, so neatly into such a category. It is uncommon, as far as I know, that a player becomes incapable of playing football in the most literal sense. Antonio Bass stands out to me as the only player I know to have left Michigan while being truly unable to carry out the basic functions of a football player. We are accordingly left to sort out what a program ought to do regarding a medical hardship when faced with various shades of grey.
To help think about medical hardship situations, I refer below to an imaginary player, Player X, who plays wide receiver for State University (“SU”), a major-conference Division 1 team. When uninjured, he has the speed to be a deep threat, runs good routes, has good hands, and is a willing and capable blocker. It is realistic to believe that he can catch 75 passes for 1,200 yards. To make this all easier, assume that he is neither a positive nor a negative presence in the locker room.
To further help think about medical hardships, I list below a series of situations in which Player X suffers an increasing accumulation of injuries but – crucially – does not want to leave the team. I’ve done this because I think considering plausible scenarios – but not real players who played for schools we may like or dislike – keeps us grounded in reality but not so grounded that we make choices based on our fandom. Many injured players will not fit exactly into the situations I describe, but I believe I’ve broadly covered the possibilities.
A final thought before we start: When thinking about what SU should do when Player X has suffered an injury or injuries, we have to consider SU’s ethical duty to Player X, to its competitors, and to its own program. The need for SU to consider its duty to Player X is obvious. It may be less obvious (to an Alabama fan) that SU has to consider the rightness of its actions in relations to its competitors, but it does. A team that removes injured players from its 85 man roster more liberally than its competitors will likely have an advantage over them in terms of talent (thus the long-time complaints about Nick Saban). Finally, I think SU has at least some ethical duty to its program – its coaches, players, etc. – when considering whether to give a player a medical hardship. We can at least imagine a player or players who insist they can still play despite the fact that they have no realistic chance of contributing and who become, at the risk of being crude, dead weight that takes up reps, time in the weight room, scholarships, and fall camp slots* that could go to players who can help the team win.
*Poster Reader 71 pointed out yesterday that the NCAA limits you to having 105 total players – scholarship or walk-on – in fall camp.
All of that having been said, on to the hypothetical situations:
Situation No. 1: Player X suffers an ACL tear, and he can now realistically be expected post-recovery to catch 50 balls for 500 yards in a season.
I think the vast majority of us will agree that SU owes a duty to Player X to keep him on the team here. 50 catches for 500 yards are the numbers of a very valuable player even if they are not as good as those Player X could have produced pre-injury. And we have to assume that he still takes satisfaction of some sort in playing football. We can hardly say that he has broken any obligation to the program by “only” gaining 500 yards or that he is not still benefitting from being on the team.
I think the vast majority of us will also agree that SU would be violating an ethical duty to its competitors by pushing Player X out the door in this case if it did so to replace him with a better player. I’m not sure anyother program would cut Player X here (maybe Tom Crean if this were basketball), but we can certainly say that most would not and that pushing him out here would violate the intent of the medical hardship rule. SU, then, would at least potentially gain an unfair competitive advantage by cutting Player X to make room for, say, an all-everything high school wide receiver or an All-American wide receiver transferring from another school.
As for SU’s duty to its program in this case, Player X could possibly be replaced by a better player, but he is hardly a non-contributor. Cutting him and replacing him with a better player would improve the talent on SU’s team but also likely hurt team chemistry and player morale.
Considering all of SU’s ethical duties in this case, it’s easy to say that they should keep Player X. Using a medical hardship in this instance would be wrong.
Situation No. 2: Player X suffers yet another knee injury and can now realistically only be expected to catch 25 passes for 250 yards.
I think the vast majority of us will still agree that SU owes a duty to Player X to keep him here just as they did in Situation No. 1. The same reasoning applies despite the fact that Player X is less valuable than he was before. 25 catches for 250 yards is a nice contribution even if it likely won’t get you on an honorable mention all-conference list. It’s also still the sort of contribution a player presumably takes pride in making. Player X has not broken any duty to SU that would allow them to impose the end of his playing days, and football is likely still rewarding to him.
I think the vast majority of us will also still agree that SU owes a duty to its competitors not to cut Player X to make room for a better player in this instance. The same reasoning that applied in Situation No. 1 makes sense here. Rule-abiding teams do not get rid of guys who can catch 25 passes.
As for SU’s duty to its program here, the same reasoning applies as applied in Situation No. 1, though I think we have to concede that – all things being equal – team morale will take less of a hit when a player who catches 25 balls is pushed off the team than when a player who catches 50 balls is pushed off the team. The player with 25 catches is less obviously succeeding, and so it is easier to find logic in getting rid of him (even if that logic seems more misguided than not). And I think we have to concede that a potential replacement of the 25-catch player has a better chance of improving the production of SU’s wide receiver position than would a replacement of a 50-catch player (the replacement of the 25-catch player only has to catch 26 passes for there to be an improvement). So the team is more likely to lose out on increased production by keeping the 25-catch player than it is by keeping the 50-catch player.
Considering all of SU’s ethical duties in this second situation, it is still fairly easy to say that SU should keep Player X on its roster here. A replacement of Player X who is better than him could be found somewhat easily, but that consideration is trumped by all the others by a wide margin.
Situation No. 3: Now things get a little harder. Player X tears an Achilles. He can only be expected post-injury to catch 10 passes for 75 yards, serve as a decent blocker, and play a bit on special teams.
My guess is that Mgobloggers are somewhat divided over a case like this. I believe, though, that the reasoning of Situations 1 & 2 still applies here as far as SU’s duty to Player X. 10 catches for 75 yards is not a lot, but it’s still a contribution. And Player X made no promise when he accepted a scholarship that he would play football with any particular degree of success. He also likely feels some satisfaction in what he provides to the team.
As to SU’s duty to its competitors here, I believe it would still be an unfair competitive advantage to dump Player X in this situation. We might say that a player who is only going to grab 10 passes for 75 yards didn’t pan out, but not all players pan out. And the medical hardship rule was not designed – nor is it generally used – to allow teams to cut a player simply because he might be considered a bust.
As for SU’s duty to its program in this situation, I think we have to conclude that dropping 10-catch Player X will hurt team morale but – all things again being equal – not hurt it as much as dropping 25-catch Player X would. It is relatively easy to see 10-catch Player X as having failed and therefore to rationalize his departure. It is also the case that replacing him with a wide receiver who can out-perform him will be that much easier than it was for 25-catch Player X.
Balancing all of SU’s ethical duties here, I believe SU must keep Player X on the roster. He is not giving SU a great deal, and he could likely be replaced by someone who would help the team more. But SU would be violating the agreement it made with Player X when it offered him a scholarship to play football, robbing him of a still-rewarding experience, and gaining an unfair advantage over other schools.
Situation No. 4: Now we will certainly be divided. Player X tears a hamstring and suffers an MCL tear and ACL tear to his other knee. He is capable of running routes in only the most literal sense, and he is a poor blocker. He gives 100% effort at all times, but he produces no more than a good intramural player off the street could.
SU’s duty to Player X in this instance is difficult to pin down. They offered him a scholarship to play D1 football. He can now do so in a literal sense, but he will never contribute to a win. We could thus arguably say that Player X now has – through no fault of his own – reached a point at which he is failing to live up to his end of the scholarship-for-play bargain. And it also becomes fair to question how rewarding football could still be for Player X, though it is ultimately only Player X who can make that determination.
SU’s duty to its competitors here is also hard to determine. Is the medical hardship rule generally taken to mean that a player like Player X can be pushed into leaving the roster? My sense is that it is, and this is partly informed by posts by Reader 71, who played at Michigan.
SU’s duty to its program, when considered in isolation, points toward pushing Player X to take a medical hardship. Every practice rep that he takes could go to a player who might help the team win. And his scholarship could be used for a player who could help the team win. There would presumably be some morale loss by pressuring him into a medical hardship, but it would be relatively easy for players to rationalize this action.
When balancing the above considerations, I still lean toward believing SU would be wrong to force Player X to take a medicalhardship. As I noted regarding Situation No. 3, Player X never promised to play football with any particular success. And we have to assume that being on the team is still rewarding for him even if an outside observer might question that, because the cost to him of staying on the team in terms of time and energy spent is very high. He is being rewarded – at least in a subjective sense – by remaining on the roster, or he is self-destructive, and we have no right to assume the latter.
SU seemingly wouldn’t gain a competitive advantage by cutting Player X, and the program as a whole would benefit from removing him from the roster. But my instinct – and I admit this is a conclusory statement – is that SU’s ethical duty to Player X is more important than its ethical duty to the rest of its program within the context of considering his scholarship. I do not feel particularly strongly about this, though, and readily admit that I may be discounting the wellbeing of the program as whole.
Another thought: The question of whether Player X has a duty to his teammates to take the medical hardship here is an interesting one, though one I don’t have time to take up.
Situation No. 5: Player X suffers multiple concussions, a neck injury, or something similarly serious. He can play post-recovery, but his doctors tell him he is at risk of experiencing a lifetime of unpleasant and debilitating symptoms if he endures another injury of the same type.
I believe SU is free to take a paternalistic approach here and tell Player X that, while he is free to transfer and risk his health with another program, they are not going to watch him leave the field on a cart in an SU uniform. If the coach of SU wants no part of Player X having to spend years sitting in a dark room because, like former New York Jet Al Toon, he becomes dizzy and experiences terrible pain if he stands or sees light, then the coach is free to tell Player X that he has to play elsewhere if he is to play at all.
If SU is willing to keep Player X on the roster, then I think they at least owe him a duty to explain to him the potential risks and the potential rewards of continuing to play football. Perhaps a potential top-10 pick could rationally choose to continue to play even if he faced, say, a 25% chance of paralysis. But he should make that decision with as must information as possible.
There is no problem here as far as SU’s duty to its competitors. A great many programs would, I think, push Player X into a medical hardship here.
As far as the program as a whole, the question hinges in part on how well Player X can play. Can he still gain 1,200 yards? Then the program obviously benefits from keeping him around. Can he only gain 75 yards? Then the program might gain by being rid of him. But regardless of his remaining ability, it is worth considering the potential damage to the program in terms of morale and image that would result from having a player seriously hurt (consider the Shane Morris incident last year).
The issue of how well Player X can play, though, is very small in relation the potential that he suffers a debilitating injury. The consideration that dwarfs all others is whether he ought to risk his health in order to gain from remaining on the team and potentially playing professional football.
Summary: This isn’t an easy issue. Some cases will be black and white, but the right answer is often unclear – and arriving at it requires a good deal of detailed information about the given situation. I lean toward believing programs should keep players on their rosters in almost all instances, but there is room for reasonable argument as to when exactly they are not required to do so. And there may even be cases in which a program should force a player to take a medical hardship.