News bullets and other items:
Hoke said that domestic violence is one of the first things they talk about in team meetings at the beginning of the year and they talk to the team about it at least four times per year
Hoke said after they had received all the necessary information the decision to dismiss Frank Clark from the program essentially made itself
Hoke has not spoken with Clark but does plan to speak with him at some point
Mario Ojemudia will start at WDE with Taco Charlton behind him
Henry Poggi moves to SDE to back up Brennen Beyer
"Obviously you all know and we put a statement out, I put a statement out, let's put it that way, we had a situation during the bye week with a young man making a bad decision and after getting all the facts that we could get and I could get I made the decision to dismiss Frank Clark from the program. What was reported and all those things, and I'm sure you've been through it with a fine-tooth comb, was unacceptable and it was not what we want here associated with our program. I know in the statement I talked about it being tragic and domestic abuse is tragic. It's tragic on a national scale. It's tragic. Obviously it's somewhere in our society and we all need to do something about it, and being a husband and being a father [and] having two sisters it's a message that I send strongly to our football team about how we will handle ourselves with women.
"That being said we're excited about Saturday. We're excited about playing Maryland, and the biggest excitement is that we've got 12 kids who are going to play their last home football game here at Michigan. We have 12 seniors. Two of them will have graduated. One of them will have his masters. The others will graduate either this fall at the end of fall or at the end of winter and we're very proud of what they've done representing the University of Michigan, and hopefully people will be in the stadium early so they can be honored and then we've got a great football game with Maryland."
Maryland on film, especially defensively: what have you seen from them?
"Well, they do a lot and they've got a pretty big package, especially when you get into third downs. They've done a nice job of attacking the quarterback. I think they are one sack above us in the league when you look at it from a defensive standpoint. I think they run very well [and] I think they obviously if you watched Saturday night's game, which I know I did, that game was a heckuva game for a little while and then kind of got out of hand with the interception for a touchdown. But they're very impressive with what they can do. I think they've won three or four games on the road so they've played well on the road also."
In light of how big an issue domestic violence has been mostly in the NFL this year have you spoken to the team before this weekend about that issue specifically?
"We speak about it constantly. Believe me, at least four times a year. We have people from the University come in. I've told our guys since day one that it won't be tolerated. It won't be tolerated in this program. All you have to do is think about I have a daughter who's 29. I have a wife. I have two sisters, And so that's always been probably one of the first things I talk about with our team least a couple times a year."
You probably just answered that, but did the current climate with how big this issue has been influence how quickly you guys made a decision?
"No, it really didn't. The decision was made after getting all the information that we could and that I could, and in doing that there really was no decision to be made. I don't know if that sounded right but…"
[After THE JUMP: More on the Clark situation and young players who impressed in the intrasquad scrimmage]
When did you find out about the situation and have you spoken to Frank since?
"I have not spoken to Frank yet."
Do you intend to?
"Oh, I'll talk to him sometime. There's no question about it. I look forward to talking to him.
"About 8 o'clock Sunday morning. That's when I found out."
What was your initial reaction considering the announcement was this morning?
"Number one, make sure you get both sides of every story because there's always two. Make sure you get all the information that you can, and we have character and integrity that we believe in and to make sure that we are abiding by those beliefs."
Is there something you found out this morning that you didn't know last night when you released a statement?
"No, no. I just wanted to make sure that we're correct in everything we were doing."
Clark was somebody you had given a second chance to. [He] had prior issues. The whole issue of second chances; do you almost feel little bit burned by and then he got into trouble again, and how much of a risk is it to take second chances?
"I don't feel burned by anything. I feel it's just something that can't be tolerated. And I think you got 18- to 22-year-olds, and maybe we all made better decisions than they did, I don't know, but I know that we all and they – there's a standard that we believe in and I believe in in how you represent yourself and more importantly in how you represent this program and that's one of the things we talk about is I'm going to make decisions that are best for this program. Not for a person, not for a coach, not for– what's best for this program. I don't feel burned, no. That's part of mentoring and you feel like you failed a little bit. Let's put it that way."
It seems like he had grown as a leader, certainly more publicly in that regard. Your level of disappointment or shock?
"Yeah, Bobby, I wouldn't – you even been called Bobby in a long time? I'm sorry.
"I don't know where that came from.
"To be honest with you you are disappointed, and the lessons as a teacher and as a mentor and as a coach, that's what you're trying to do and that's why I got into coaching. That bores you when I talk about it but that's why I got into it. To help develop kids, because I had a coach the cared about me. Cared about me not just [as] a player."
This may be what you just answered, but the success stories that you've seen of someone that's struggled and then kind of been put back on their feet…does that make it worth it to take those chances?
"Yeah, and I think you've got to evaluate the word chance. What exactly is it? And I think there's no question that there've been so many positives with guys who have come through this program, guys who went through the Ball State program when we were there, and San Diego State that learned some hard lessons and paid some dear consequences. Obviously Frank's going to deal with some difficult consequences, but at the same time i'm going to support Frank to get back on his feet and keep growing as a man."
Is there any part of you that says 'Okay, what's it going to be today' when you wake up? It's been that kind of year.
"Yeah, it's been one of those years but honestly our focus, you may think I'm nuts, but it's on those 115 kids. That's what I focus on, and if I don't do that I'm going to get distracted because this guy says this or this is what some alum thanks. I do know we are doing the right thing for these kids in this program. The harsh reality of it is I did the right thing today."
You said Devin's [Gardner] moving around a little bit better. There's more things you can do with him in the offense, do you think, when he's –
"Yeah, and there's no question. I think just watching him, and he practiced last night and we had a very good practice- I think this is as close to healthy as he's been in the last six weeks. And does it open up some things because of his ability? Yeah, I think so."
I think this is the fifth arrest in the past 12 months for football players here-
"It may be, I don't know. I don't count."
Is there initial worry about discipline or an issue or some type of pattern that you see?
"Yeah, I have no worries about how we handle our kids or what we do with them, the consequences they pay for anything. I have no issues with that. I just know that we live in an imperfect world and sometimes there are mistakes that are made and for us to abandon ship, depending on the circumstances, I think is giving up on what's great about our country and developing men, because we need to develop men."
How do you compensate for Frank's absence? Will you move somebody over there?
"Yeah. What we'll do, and we did this a little bit last week, is Taco will go over with Ojemudia. Mario will be the guy who will take the first snaps and then Taco will go over there. Henry Poggi will come in and be Beyer's back up, and Henry- really, he's done a nice job. We scrimmaged. We talked about that I think we did on Wednesday. Really did some really good things. We went into Northwestern a little bit with a concern because Frank had banged up his knee a little bit, so we were a little concerned going into that game what we would get out of him so we kind of were already there doing that kind of rotation."
I know you said you haven't talked a lot about it to the team, but what would it mean after the early struggles this team has had to actually become bowl eligible?
"One thing about this team, they have been unified. They have stayed together. They've probably listened to the stuff out there and at the same time they've done a great job of shutting it off. I think we have an identity of what kind of team we are. We're not very flashy. We're not going to score a lot of points. We've got to play well in the kicking game, and Maryland really presents a challenge there with their return game. And defensively we've got to be very good in the red zone and try and create some turnovers. We've done that in the last couple games but we also need to take care of the football still. I don't know if I answered your question. Did I?"
Taking that step to make it to a bowl after it didn't look like early on-
"Yeah, we haven't talked about that. We've talked about a three-game season, and that started with Indiana because the fourth game, the last game on the schedule you know. If you have any fiber of Michigan in you you know what that game is, so we focused on these three games and playing the best football we can, playing as a team, and out-compete and out-challenge in everything that we do."
Just a follow-up to the question about off the field stuff. Can you kind of just go over your criteria for allowing second chances?
"No. I think every situation is different. There's too many hypotheticals out there to be honest with you, because every one of them are different. Some are bigger than others. Believe me, there's consequences that guys pay that aren't any fun."
Maybe the answer to this is-
Robert. Maybe the answer to this is obvious but with all the latest has this been the toughest season of your professional career?
"Externally for some of that stuff, some things that have come up, maybe. But internally, to watch these guys work every day, which I've said at every press conference you've sat in, they truly come out and work every day and they compete. That is rewarding. We don't have an attitude problem here or there. If not they call each other out on it and so that's been really rewarding, and I think that's part of the leadership that guys are giving; even the senior level, but through the team itself. Some of the younger guys.
I know you said you talk to the kids routinely about domestic violence. Did you meet with the team today at all about it?
"No, not yet. I will. I will."
And will that be just a reminder that this isn't-
"Well, I think there's a lot of things you want to talk about with them as a coach, as their coach. I think that will obviously be one of them. I've seen some of the guys already, some of the older guys, and I've talked to them about it so yeah, we're going to meet and we'll talk about the situation and will we remind them of behavior and decisions? No question about it."
To follow up on Wojo's question there, with this year being tough and whether it's the toughest year you've had or not how has it changed you as a coach or has it at all, just going through everything you have?
"You know what, I think it's been an enjoyable year. No, not really. It is what it is. Leadership's supposed to be hard. I mean, that's part of what this is so to be honest with you it's part of leadership. Look, there's worse things that can happen in this world than going through some tough things from a professional or team standpoint."
You mentioned Poggi. Other guys in the young guys scrimmage that caught your eye or stood out?
"Yeah, well, I think when you look up front I thought Logan Tuley-Tillman was doing a lot of good things. Linebacker-wise Chase Winovich is a guy who- Jared Wangler, Jack Wangler. You know, what I'm going to do is not mention a guy and then I'm going to feel bad. Wilton Speight was...because quarterbacks were live, which we don't do a lot with the quarterbacks, he stood in there and threw it and did a nice job. Da'Mario, because Da'Mario, we played him in it. There's quite a few of them and I'm not going to get every one of them."
You said each incident is a different thing, how you deal with it. Did you consult with anybody? Do you have to consult Hackett or anything?
"Well, I talked to Jim [Hackett] but the thing about Jim is my decisions are how we're going to run the football program and that was my decision."
With the five arrests that were mentioned do you go back and think what could I have done differently or do change how you approach talking to the guys about certain issues that may come up?
"You know what, the one thing, and this is not arrogance, but we covered everything pretty well because I know how I was in college so we covered everything pretty well."
Can I ask one more?
"Sure. Go ahead. Sing."
Any update on Derrick Green and what his status might be?
"No. No update yet."
You hear about players growing through adversity often. Do you feel like you've grown as a coach through all the stuff you've had to go through?
"Yeah, that's a good point and I think you're right, I think you do. I think when you have the opportunity to enjoy adversity and keep focused on what really is important I think you grow."