This was right after the hit—at least Braden seems to be standing up to Cockran. Doesn’t look like an ankle tweak… pic.twitter.com/1GNxiBki5F
— Bryan Fuller (@FullOfTwitt) September 29, 2014
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 beginning 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 communications 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.
“Number one, thanks for coming. I know there's been a lot of talk, a lot of speculation, a lot of rumors, innuendo, whatever on what happened and what's going on with Shane.
Obviously I can tell you from my perspective of being on the sideline what I know and I'm going to touch [on] some of those things a little bit, but at the same time I think there's other experts that will also have a statement and an opinion.
I'm a football coach. Some of you don't think we’re doing that very well but that's what I do. I don't make decisions who plays, who doesn't play as far as when there's injuries and particularly if there was any head trauma or head injuries. And for those of you who know or don't know I would never put a kid in that situation. Never have and never will because you get into this to coach kids, believe me. And that's what this game is all about, and helping those guys in a lot of different ways. So we are not going to– as a staff I can assure you that's never going to happen.
“The one thing I can tell you is during the process of… let me share this first. Number one, we practiced yesterday. We practiced last night and Shane Morris would have practiced were it not for a high ankle sprain, and that's one reason I'm telling you that is because that's what I've been told and a high ankle sprain, they have a new word for it that I can't really pronounce but he would have practiced if it wasn't for that.
During the course of the game when Devin lost– and I think that's where the critical junction is for some of you, but the…Devin's helmet comes off and my intention is to go out and I get the referee’s attention who I think, by the way, is one of the better referees in this league, and I want to buy him back with a timeout. That, and when I say that- and I've talked to the Big Ten about this, I've talked to Bill Carollo last night about this, I was told I couldn't buy him back and I said, ‘Yeah, I can buy him back,’ so him and I had a little bit of a discussion because you can buy back in because of the helmet, not because of any injury but because of the helmet coming off.
Well, the linesman comes up and him and I, I say ‘I want to buy him back,’ and the referee says you can't do that’ and the miscommunication or whatever it might be, the head linesman says, ‘Yes, you can’ and so by that time Shane’s on the field taking one more snap, handing the ball off, [and] Devin gets his helmet back on. That's how that sequence went.
What I can tell you is we would never, ever put a guy on the field when there's a possibility of head trauma and we won't do that. Guys play beat up every day. If they’re not beat up a little bit, they’re never 100%, then we need to – then they’re not doing much. Guys also have nicks and bumps and bruises and strains and everything else. I can also tell you that football is a sport where guys have got to be highly competitive and they are highly competitive because they love to play the game and they love to compete and that's just part of their DNA. And I think it's different, obviously, than a lot of other things and professions and those things.
“Let me finish with we've got to do a better job of playing football, coaching football and being a team. We get to go to Rutgers this week and we’re excited about that. Had a good practice last night. Focused on the fundamentals and the techniques that you need to have and that is what this game is. We played a little bit- and I know Jack Miller said this after the game, offensively we played a little bit of 10 man football and you can't do that. Every guy has a responsibility. Every guy has to do their job.
“Defensively, I think the disappointing thing is our tackling and leveraging the ball. I don't think and we don't think we did a good enough job there and that was addressed last night and will be addressed throughout the week. We’re excited about going to Rutgers. These are the two schools, besides the Ivy League schools, playing football. I think the history of those two schools playing football besides the Ivies, so that's exciting and it'll be a new environment so we’re excited to get on the road.”
[Much more after THE JUMP]
For what it's worth:
“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.”
For posterity I've clipped the video of the helmet to helmet hit and Michigan's actions after, plus the decision to insert him into the game after Gardner's helmet popped off.
The booing you hear in the background is fans demanding that Morris be removed, as it was even more obvious Morris was not right if you were looking at him for those 20 seconds uninterrupted. The only guy in the stadium who didn't know was Hoke.
Bluntly, anyone arguing that we shouldn't jump down Hoke's throat because of the slight possibility Morris was not concussed is an idiot.
News bullets and other items
Hoke didn’t know whether Shane Morris was concussed or not
He also didn’t see Morris struggling to get off the field after the hit
No injury updates were provided
Next week’s starting quarterback will be determined after reviewing the film and, presumably, after the next week of practice
Hoke is surprised some of the same issues keep cropping up considering how hard the team practices and how good they look during the week
“Number one, Minnesota – give them credit and give Jerry [Kill] credit but at the same time we didn't… we’re disappointed in how we played football today. I think when you look at different aspects of our game I don't think we played as well as we can. I don't think we executed as well and that always comes back to me first as a coach and what we can do better to help ourselves and help our team. Didn't tackle well and that was disappointing and that part of it. And part of that [is] we needed to leverage the runs a little better. There were too many times where the ball got outside the defense and that's never good for you when you're playing defense.
"I think from an offensive perspective we struggled in a lot of different areas. DeVeon had some nice runs early in the football game but we struggled just in various different areas at times. Either a negative play that puts you behind the sticks– you've heard that; probably heard it too many times and I've said it too many times – or just not consistent in what we are trying to get done and that’s something that we have to make sure we are getting to that point where it's going to be consistency and so that's a big part of it. I think field position was a part of the game. We've got to do a better job. A couple of punt returns went for way too much yardage. I thought Will made a couple good punts and a pooch punt and kind of drove the ball a little bit but we've got to get better coverage and do a better job there.
“From the standpoint of our team and their attitude, number one, they’re disappointed and they should be. We all are. Secondly, I think the guys in that locker room, and I've said this before and you may think I'm not telling you the truth but they work their tails off and that's the sad thing is they've got to keep working and we are going to keep working for each other. We are going to keep pushing ourselves to be the best Michigan team we can be and our goals are still out there. There’s a lot of football to play and we talked in the locker room [how] there's two things you can do: you can quit, you can shy away from it or you can be honest with it and go back to work and that's what we'll do is a football team.”
Brady, can you share with us what you saw in Shane this week that gave him the start that we didn't see you today?
“Yeah. I think, number one, I've said this before and I'm going to say it again is we've got two guys who we have a lot of faith in at quarterback. Shane had a good week of practice. He's had a good practices throughout fall camp. I think that I talked about earlier in the year and he had a good practice last week.”
What do you think was wrong today?
“Well, again, I think sometimes we want to point the finger at one guy because he's the quarterback and I don't think that's fair. I don't think that's fair. Obviously we've got to do a better job with some protection things he had to step up in. Pocket closed a couple times on him. I think, you know, the interception was a tipped ball at the line of scrimmage that gets knocked up into the air. We've got to have better ball security. He’d be the first one to tell you that. A couple times the ball was on the ground but as far as how he practiced and what he did to deserve to start, he's been doing that throughout camp and fall.”
Is it still his job?
“We’ll evaluate it, like we do – like we did last week. We evaluate. For me to sit up here when you don't look at all the film yet, and believe me, you can't see everything from down there and we'll evaluate it.”
Brady, curious as to the decision to leave Shane in after he got hit. Might've had a concussion…
“Well, you know, I don’t know. I don’t know if he might’ve had a concussion or not. I don’t know that and that wasn’t something- Shane’s a pretty competitive, tough kid and Shane wanted to be the quarterback and so believe me, if he didn’t want to be he would’ve come to the sideline or stayed down.”
Was it your decision then to leave him in after the late hit foul?
“The late hit foul…yes.”
[After THE JUMP: more on Morris’ potential concussion, finding a spark, and Hoke’s feelings on the “Fire Brady” chant]
“We’re not going to talk about injuries and I might as well bring that out now. And some of that is because you can say something about something and then you’re wrong. Everybody heals a little differently, and the other thing is for our kids. I want to make sure we’re doing a good job protecting them.” — Brady Hoke, 9/17/14
Regardless of how you felt about the on-field performance, what Brady Hoke did in putting an almost certainly concussed Shane Morris back on the field was reprehensible and, if you believe the first job of a head coach is to protect his own players, worthy of a firing. The fact that Hoke let Morris stay on the field as long as he did in the first place—when Morris, at one point, waved at the sideline while needing a lineman's support to stand—was awful enough; to ask Morris to re-enter that game was beyond the pale.
A national television audience just saw every reason why they shouldn't send their football players to Michigan.
An ornery crowd filtered in slowly, with the "attendance" of 102,926 such an obvious farce much of the crowd booed when it was announced. Booing, in fact, was a theme on the day. It started early, when a couple inside running plays netted little. When Minnesota entered the tunnel with a 10-7 halftime lead, the boos rained down again.
By the time Morris lost a third-quarter fumble when he simply dropped the ball in the pocket—the press box announcer flatly stated "fumble not forced by anyone on Minnesota," afterward—the student section had moved on from boos to chants of "Fire Brandon." For the uninitiated, that would be in reference to Dave Brandon, Michigan's embattled athletic director.
The first half proved competitive, at least, if not at all interesting. Michigan punted on their first three drives, Minnesota on their opening four; provided stellar field position by the defense, the Wolverine offense tallied their first red zone trip and touchdown against a Power 5 team this season on a nifty ten-yard scamper by De'Veon Smith. The Gophers answered just two minutes later, however, with a ten-yard scoring run of their own when quarterback Mitch Leidner ran untouched around the corner off an inside run fake.
Minnesota added greatly to the fan unrest when they marched 92 yards in 2:17 to end the half with a Ryan Santoso field goal. Then the floodgates opened in the third quarter. Minnesota forced Michigan to punt from deep in their own territory, allowing the Gophers to "drive" eight yards in seven plays for another Santoso field goal, putting them up 13-10. Two plays later, Theiran Cockran tipped a Morris pass to the flat, and it fluttered right to Gopher LB De'Vondre Campbell, who brought it back 30 yards for an easy touchdown.
After the Morris fumble on the very next drive, Leidner ended a five-play drive with a little flip-pass to Maxx Williams for a one-yard score. What had been a 10-7 game just 4:32 earlier morphed into an ugly 27-7 blowout. When Morris was finally pulled, Devin Gardner entered the game and immediately engineered a touchdown drive, capping it off with a three-yard run, defiantly standing as two defenders collided with him upon entering the end zone. During that drive, Gardner lost his helmet for a play, necessitating either a timeout be called or a backup enter. While Russell Bellomy also grabbed his helmet, Morris went in.
On what would ultimately be Michigan's last drive, another woeful three-and-out (their seventh of the game) from the shadow of their own end zone, Devin Funchess also went down injured, and left the field with a noticeable limp. When the game mercifully ended shortly after Michigan punted, still technically down just two scores on the scoreboard, Funchess and his teammates limped to the locker room; Morris left the field on the back of a cart.
"I didn't see that. I can only answer for me," said Hoke, when asked if he noticed Morris looking wobbly on his feet.
If that's the best you've got, Brady, it's best if you let someone else protect the players.