chance of bowl: 13.6%
100% worst thing ever
These are actual quotes from Brady Hoke's presser this afternoon. I could not make them up if I tried, because they are appalling. Click the stills to open each GIF in a lightbox.
“I know there’s been a lot of talk, speculation, innuendos, whatever.” — Brady Hoke.
"We would never, ever, put a guy on the field when there's a possibility of head trauma." — Brady Hoke.
Hoke says he thought hit on Morris was targeting
— Alexa Dettelbach (@asdettel) September 29, 2014
Hoke on playing guys with concussion symptoms: "I would never put a kid in that situation, never have, never will."
— Dan Murphy (@DanMurphyESPN) September 29, 2014
Hoke on whether the athletic trainers did tests on the sideline, “I assume so.”
— Joshua Henschke (@JoshuaHenschke) September 29, 2014
Hoke says he wanted to get Gardner back in (presumably without a timeout), but was told no, "By that time, Shane's on the field."
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) September 29, 2014
Hoke: on the criticism: "When your integrity and character is attacked that’s really unwarranted."
— angelique (@chengelis) September 29, 2014
Hoke on whether he will act different the next time: “I don’t know, I think that’s hypothetical.”
— Joshua Henschke (@JoshuaHenschke) September 29, 2014
9/27/2014 – Michigan 14, Minnesota 30 – 2-3, 0-1 Big Ten
Look at this photo and tell me he is not concussed, TELL ME. (Photo Credit: Leon Halip, USA TODAY) pic.twitter.com/FNR75YG2Sv
— Joshua Henschke (@JoshuaHenschke) September 28, 2014
Brady Hoke is too incompetent to be Michigan's coach. He's too incompetent to be responsible for 85 kids who might get badly hurt at any moment. Hell, he's too incompetent to run a Hooters. Do not eat the chicken at Brady Hoke Hooters. That's not chicken.
And that's the nice way to interpret the information presented to us. It's one thing when Michigan is sending out ten guys in their dinosaur punt formation, one thing when they have the country's worst offense relative to available hyped recruits two years running. It's one thing when Michigan is pretending to try by getting Devin Funchess's ankle mangled in the waning moments of a 31-0 game. These are all fireable offenses, but year-end fireable offenses.
It's another thing when the Yakety Sax chaos that has come to symbolize the Hoke regime puts one of Hoke's "115 sons" in danger, as it did Saturday.
Shane Morris had just taken a headshot from a defensive end. He momentarily lost the ability to use his limbs. There was no real reason for him to be in the game anyway, what with his 49 passing yards and air of being totally overwhelmed. And Hoke threw him out there, because he "didn't see" his quarterback stagger onto one of his offensive linemen.
Even if that implausible excuse is true, somebody did. The announcers did. Doug Nussmeier—who was desperately trying to get his quarterback to fall on the ground—did. There were 80,000 people still in the stadium looking at the quarterback, and
knew Shane Morris had just had a very bad thing happen to his brain. When he was left in, they booed vociferously. This is where we're at: the guys booing in the stands are doing so because they fear for the players' health.
This is a long, long way from the "they ain't got no heart" guys from the Rodriguez era. Booing is now the only agency you have when something reprehensible is going on in front of your face. It's gone from childish to necessary.
Brady Hoke had no idea, and even more damningly nobody on his sideline had the sense to overrule the guy who purports to be the head coach. Some guys started yelling at Russell Bellomy to get his helmet on when Gardner lost his a couple plays after entering; Bellomy tried about 50 because he never dreamed he'd go in a game again. Morris re-entered the game. Did he have a concussion?
"Shane's a pretty competitive, tough kid. Shane wanted to be the quarterback. Believe me, if he didn't want to be, he would've come to the sideline, or stayed down."
That is unacceptable. Brady Hoke should have been fired walking off the field.
Dave Brandon is too stupid to be Michigan's athletic director. After a day-long lambasting culminating in ABC's World News Tonight slamming the program, they released a breathtakingly tone-deaf statement that is a flat-out lie.
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
This is how Shane Morris aggravated his leg injury.
Who are you going to believe, Dave Brandon and his lawyers or your lying eyes?
It does not matter whether Morris was concussed or not. What matters is that Shane Morris showed obvious signs of a concussion immediately after taking a wicked head shot and was permitted to stay in the game, then re-entered some 90 seconds after departing, well before any serious concussion check could be completed. The NFL's process takes 8-12 minutes. The NHL requires players suspected to have sustained a concussion to be removed from the ice and taken to a quiet place for evaluation.
Michigan was flagrantly negligent about Shane Morris's safety. Period.
And then they lied about it. To your face. Because they think you're too fucking dumb to do anything about it.
Michigan's athletic department has been insulting the intelligence of their fans for years with offended statements about how they weren't really going to do the thing they said they were going to do and the thing you're mad about definitely is your fault, not theirs. That was bad enough for petty things like noodles; this is the athletic department lying to the nation about a matter of real import.
Brady Hoke is either a liar or an idiot, and my guess is both.
— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) September 29, 2014
This opinion is universal outside a small corps of true believers who have inexplicable faith in the people who are just in charge of the Michigan athletic department. Hoke has been condemned by the ESPN announcers, Deadspin, Business Insider, Yahoo, Andy Staples, Nick Baumgardner, Wojo, Bruce Feldman and Stewart Mandel, USA Today's Nicole Auerbach, CBS, CBS again, USA Today's George Schroeder and virtually every other person to offer an opinion about college football this year. Hell, a news program aimed at olds did a segment on it, just after they talked about ISIS.
The die has been cast. Until Brady Hoke and Dave Brandon are removed from this program, This Is Michigan: incompetent liars.
I can't stand by and watch this anymore.
This program is broken. The coach is too dumb to be in charge of other people. The athletic director is so loathed that when the remainder of the student section started to chant something after the concussion fiasco, they went with "FIRE BRANDON." Tickets go for two cokes, and that's too expensive.
Stephen Ross is defending Brandon, and I feel helpless. The thing I love most in the world has been held hostage by unacceptable people. So I'm going to do two things.
I'M NOT GOING TO THE MARYLAND GAME. (Unless Hoke and Brandon are gone.) This is going to break a home attendance streak dating back to the 1997 opener, when I was a freshman, but it's the only thing I can do to show my disgust at the state of the program. I'm not selling my ticket—not that I could sell it for anything. I am eating it. I urge you to do the same. Yeah, it sucks for the players. I am more concerned about sending a message about the program as a whole than making anyone feel bad.
Do it for all of us. I hate it with the fury of a thousand suns, but this is the only thing we have left.
I'M RUNNING FOR REGENT IN 2016. I don't know how or with who yet, but the board of regents is a broken institution that privately conspires to vote unanimously in favor of everything, in violation of the law. They accepted the presence of Dave Brandon; they run the worst FOIA office in the country; they are supposed to be the check on an increasingly overpaid and unaccountable administrative class at Michigan. They are failures.
Leaders and best. I still believe that. Goddammit, I do. I started the Every Three Weekly with Amol Parulekar and Mike Chu and Paul Malewitz and Michigan allowed that to happen despite it being an obviously not-great idea for them. I learned how to code; I didn't go to my discrete math class for the entire semester and that was cool; I got my brain rearranged by Stephen Kaplan in an immensely productive way. Michigan is awesome. It is awesome in spite of the people in charge of the university's front door.
I love this place, which gave me my education, livelihood, and wife. I am going to do the thing I can to try to help it.
Because this is not Michigan.
[After THE JUMP: more reasons to fire Brady Hoke.]
Notre Dame 31, Michigan 0
Michigan had never been shut out in the history of the Michigan/Notre Dame rivalry. Michigan hadn’t been shut out in any game since Ronald Reagan’s first term. Neither of those things is true right now. In fact, nothing is true but the alcohol.
Football is strange sometimes. Michigan outgained Notre Dame 289-282. If you find comfort in this fact, I applaud your zen-like quality, or the quality of your alcohol. Devin Gardner turned the ball over four times. Matt Wile missed two field goals badly. Devin Funchess may be hurt. Raymon Taylor may be hurt. Jabrill Peppers was too hurt to play. On a day in which the Big Ten looked terrible, Michigan’s performance stands atop the flaming heap as the worst of the day.
This game will cause many questions to be asked. For now, I can provide you with only one answer.
We found out why the first Michigan State hockey series was "TBA" yesterday, when it was announced that the two teams would play an outdoor game in Chicago. There are about 50,000 reasons that's a questionable decision—as in the number of people who won't be at this who would if it was on either campus.
Michigan is due to get two home games against State this year, Michigan and MSU have a contract to play at the Joe annually, and the other MSU game is still ominously "TBA":
I just called the ticket office, and they said they were told that the January 30th game is at the Joe.
I, like a lot of season ticket holders, have already renewed my season tickets, and now I am informed that a game against Michigan's biggest rival is going to be in Chicago. This is how you lose people forever, Dave Brandon. But I'm sure the one-time benefit from playing in Chicago is more important than not making your season ticket holders feel like saps. Clueless. This athletic department is clueless.
I'm sitting with my mother and her three sisters, and we're watching the rockets attacking Israel. One aunt is on Skype with her daughter who just picked a really bad week to move to Tel Aviv. My cousin has a tendency toward fearlessness—when living in Sendai, Japan, during that earthquake/tidal wave/nuclear plant disaster she passed up offers from the U.S. consulate to get her out of there, instead organizing the evacuation of her schoolchildren. Now she's brushing aside her mother's terror: we have an Iron Dome; can I show you the floor of the apartment?
The American TV news is showing people fleeing the beach and she jokes that all those moving at a walking pace are the Israelis. The aunts don't see the humor; these are minutes carefully constructed—including the Skype call—to properly experience the horror of warfare. And when it's interrupted by the news shifting to Wimbledon the women lament, and complain of Western Civilization's warped priorities: here's civilians being shot at with rockets; now let's go to sport.
Here's sport. The reason that TV news can seamlessly shift from Hamas lobbing rockets to Roger Federer smashing lobs is because TV news turned news coverage into sports coverage. Here's the teams, here's the scores, here's a highlight reel, here's the day's-end results. You are welcome to lament this development; my point here is there's something so innately gratifying about sports that they turned news into it.
Getting in. I can't remember my first interactions with sports. There's a photo of me as an infant between my dad and my grandpas on a couch, and given the setup and the expressions (sleeping, discussing something else, WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?) it's a good bet a game was on. I was just four months old the first time I was on a sailboat—my dad was a serious racer back then and had use of his captain's boat because he was the only crewman who knew how to fix it. I've been told I went to an '84 Tigers playoff game but I don't remember it. I don't remember my first Michigan game either—just the familiarity of going to Michigan games in later memories.
I remember going hours early to my great aunt's house for Thanksgiving, and sitting on the floor of the living room for the Lions game. I remember at the end of a morning ski lesson at Nub's Nob my dad coming to pick us up and all afternoon us showing him what we'd learned of pizza pies and french fries. I remember wearing space pajamas while watching March Madness on my parents' bed, and my dad getting in trouble for me being up. And I remember my dad instructing me on the proper breaking-in technique of my first baseball glove, and unwrapping the greasy twine early because I meant to take the glove to tailgate, and that my dad fished his out of the chaos of his garage shelves, and that I spent the drive to Ann Arbor admiring the old leather, the Rocky Colavito signature, and the bull's head brand in the palm that matched my own glove.
I don't remember when I started liking sports. I just remember my Dad was there.
From left: WWII vet, blogger, WWII vet, draft dodger
Distraction. My favorite MGoBlog piece is "Eleven Swans," when Brian felt, in the hours leading up to Football Armageddon (The Game 2006), that he needed to justify how such a thing could have importance in a world with an Israeli-Palestinian conflict in it:
And then you try to figure out why the stakes are so high in the first place. Why this entire week you haven't been able to concentrate on anything by war by proxy. Fake war by proxy. Meaningless war by proxy. You will suffer humiliation when the team from my area defeats the team from your area. It's ridiculous. Intelligent people do not spend a goodly swath of their life pouring emotion and precious time into a contest that affects no one and changes nothing except some inky scribbles in media guides.
The analogy that Kellen Winslow Jr. badly articulated in reference to a brutal injury he inflicted that one time is, in fact, true: sports is warfare. Our regional tribe shall fight theirs, and will do so in the manner that we all wish war was conducted: hardfast rules, individual heroics, minimal casualties, clear victories, and done by somebody else on our behalf.
My father was the first in his paternal lineage not to go to war. The first Fisher, according to the family history, deserted a British ship for an American one near Sault Ste. Marie in 1813. There was a Harry Fisher who distinguished himself in the Civil War. And there was Great Grandpa Prenzlauer, who for a drunken promise named a son for his war buddy Colonel Leonard Wood, whom everyone called "Colonel." Both of my grandpas fought against real Nazis in The War, as did my dad's great uncle Colonel Leonard Wood Prenzlauer, a corporal (family members, almost certainly apocryphally, claim he was Joseph Heller's inspiration for Major-Major). The horrors of it made them old men before their thirties; Colonel died only a few years afterward.
Because you're supposed to name kids for a loved one who recently passed, my dad's name was to be Colonel, until my grandma awoke from the drugs they used back then and promptly changed it to Robert Leonard. He played football at Cass Tech and his coach—perhaps every coach in the mid-'60s—was a vet who coached like it was a war.
My dad's distaste for warfare started a rift with him and his father that wouldn't be repaired until I was born. My dad spent the bulk of his twenties avoiding Vietnam by any means. He had a low draft number and after his first two years at MSU they got rid of student deferments. He and his best friend, who'd been at Michigan, transferred to Oakland University to keep their parents mollified while really doing nothing but play handball and researching ways of getting around the draft. Eventually they came upon agricultural deferments, which is how two Jewish city boys became farmers. The New Deal system of the federal government buying up unplanted crops to keep food prices high enough to support farming was still in effect, so the years they were not-growing corn were able to offset the years they were growing corn badly.
(For many reasons I read Catch 22 at an early age)
The way the WWII generation watched sports was different from my dad's generation, and different from mine. My grandpa treated it like an intense escape. He and his brothers-in-law went to the 1950 game—the one with all the snow—and he said ever after it was his favorite because it was too cold for anybody to interrupt the game with talking. He wouldn't talk about the war much, except to bring up the fact that he fought it so that he could watch the damn game in peace.
My dad watched Michigan games in the stands, or at his best friend's house, or if neither were available from his bed; either way it was a background piece to a conversation that alternated between mutterings over the incompetence of the coaches and the other things in life.
He had little of the seriousness for sports that I developed. I'd complain to him of battles with the internet Nazis and the relativity of program goodness, and he'd shrug at these things then go back to the two great questions of our age: Why haven't they pulled this pitcher?, and Why are they running left again?. A few things were important and everything else was irrelevant, and nobody could bring irreverence to bear like my father. He was off-the-charts intelligent. He was unflinchingly ethical. He could mock anything because he had the mind and the desire to understand everything.
The things that are important. My aunts were all in town last week because on July 4th my dad suddenly passed away. He'd been a little sick with that cold everyone had that turned into mild bronchitis and pneumonia, but the antibiotics and pills had him feeling better by that Friday. He was gardening, and planning to sail in the afternoon, and when he collapsed I was on the phone with my Mom to invite them, conditional on my dad's state of health after sailing, to barbecue at our new house with all the kids and his two grandkids.
When I was 16 I got fired from a summer camp—I accidentally ran into a kid while refereeing ultimate frisbee and it just happened to be the kid who had a lawsuit going against the camp for the last time he and his parents imagined he was damaged, and rather than compound their situation they let me go. Then my car wouldn't start and I was stranded at the bus depot at Lahser and 11-mile, and I called my dad and said it was the worst day of my life, and he said "No, the worst day of your life is the day I die."
I've never a fought a war, never been in a position where I'd been expected to, or had to face the prospect of one. Lacking something so serious I developed a tendency—as I'm sure many of my generation did—to stage pitched battles over less relevant things. You've witnessed this as I've railed on this blog and in HTTV etc. about the Superbowlization of Michigan sports.
Today is my first official day "back" to blogging since July 4, and there's fireworks to mock, new plays to scribble, and an interview with former Michigan cornerbacks in re: what to expect from Peppers that are coming up. But I couldn't bring myself to put any of those together because the worst day of my life still envelopes all the thoughts.
So I want to say for the record, in lieu of all the complaints and nitpicks and devastations and hypocrisies that I typically point out, that these things are of just a relative importance to a thing of actual little importance. If it costs way more than it should to sit in a stadium that's become way too chintzy for a team that isn't nearly as good as it ought to be, that's 5% of an experience that's 95% spending some of a truly finite amount of breaths with the person you came with. I can't remember how sports became such a part of my life any more than I remember how my dad entered it. Sports were just something that my dad and I did with the 34 years of peace and good life afforded to us. And it was the most important thing in the world.