The Shane Morris Incident

Submitted by Brian on September 28th, 2014 at 2:38 PM

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.



September 28th, 2014 at 6:16 PM ^

I don't see how I can be wrong when I clearly concede that one possiblity is that Schmidt screwed up. Or when I clearly concede in my OP that the matter wasn't handled well.

The point I'm making is everyone is pretending like they know with certainty exactly what happened. You don't. Let's hold off on destroying a man's reputation until more information comes out from the parties involved, which at this point is next to nothing.

You Only Live Twice

September 28th, 2014 at 9:35 PM ^

"must be removed from practice or competition and referred to an athletic trainer or team physician with experience in concussion management.  A student-athlete’s health care provider experienced in the diagnosis and management of concussion should conduct and document serial clinical evaluation inclusive of symptom inventory and evaluation of cognition and balance."

  I appreciate you are trying so hard to be fair, Reshp, that is often a difficult position to be in. But from the wording, it sounds like 2 things should have happened:  The player is REFERRED to his trainer OR team doctor with experience in concussion management.  That's step one; the player comes out of the game, and is referred to either the trainer or a doc.  The very next sentence states  "a health care provider" with experience in concussion diagnosis and mangement should conduct an evaluation.   Unless the trainer is a health care provider, which I doubt, this is saying an MD should have been called to attend to the player.  I read this to say that an athlete who  shows any symptoms consistent with concussion, is pulled out of the game, referred to their trainer or the team doctor - and either the trainer is responsible for getting him medical attention, (again from the right specialist) OR the doc who he is referred to can either conduct the examination or again, refer him to the right specialist.   It sounds like this is written to ensure that the injured player receives the medical evaluation he needs regardless of who checks on him initially. 


September 28th, 2014 at 3:43 PM ^

Dude, did you see Gardner last year? Or Funchess the last 3 games for that matter? Concussions are one thing, playing hurt is another thing entirely and happens all the time. I don't get the double standard. Why is Gardner playing on a broken toe "gutsy" but Shane needs to come out at the first sign of a limp?


September 28th, 2014 at 5:14 PM ^

The NCAA does not have a thoracic organ injury policy that requires clearance by the medical staff before being re-inserted.

The NCAA and the University of Michigan do have a brain injury policy that requires clearance by the medical staff before being re-inserted.

There are medical reasons for this as well as "political" reasons.  There is no risk to the continued existance of the sport of football because of the NFL's and the NCAA's thoracic organ injuries policy.  The NCAA didn't just pay out $75,000,000 as a result of their lack of action on thoracic organ injuries.…

The NCAA didn't just mandate a strict new thoracic organ injury policy.…


September 28th, 2014 at 4:48 PM ^

If you don't see a fundamental difference between Devin vs. OSU and Shane vs. Minnesota, I don't know what to tell you.

Shane wasn't playing well all day. Worse than Devin vs. Utah.  He was getting further and further hurt. He's also just a sophomore.

ON the flip side, Devin was having arguably his best or second best game of his life against OSU. He was getting shit done.

There's no double standard here. The situations were completely different...the only thing that tied them together was "they played injured". But unlike Devin, it was clear Shane could not overcome his injury and play well. 

Shop Smart Sho…

September 28th, 2014 at 5:33 PM ^

And it was explained to you that difference was that Morris was not overcoming his pain.  The kid couldn't move well enough to avoid further injury.  That is completely different than what Gardner was doing last year against OSU.  It also wasn't blindingly obvious to everyone watching that Gardner was injured.  Everyone, aside from the people in charge on the sideline, could tell that Morris hadn't been right since the play in the endzone when he fumbled the ball.


September 28th, 2014 at 5:56 PM ^

Gardner was, at several points in 2013, just as visibly hobbled as Morris (pre head hit). So is Funchess right now. Neither of those guys are in any better position to "protect themselves." Hell, we had a pretty good torch and pitchfork session about Funchess's blocking effort last week, with no slack given for literally hoping around on one leg on the sidelines. Right or wrong, playing hurt is pretty ubiquitous, and not just on this team. 


September 28th, 2014 at 5:40 PM ^

Both before and after the blow to the head.
Gardner was noticably hurt, but still capable of moving and making plays. Morris was not very capable of moving or making plays. Then he took a heymaker shot to the chin. Morris likely shouldn't have been in the game long before the headshot. He absolutely shouldn't have been in the game for even a single snap more after it.


September 28th, 2014 at 6:07 PM ^

I was simply pointing out that the situations were completely different. You can't compare injuries so directly, because each situation is unique unto itself...that's why I think there is no double-standard. 

Is it OK to play someone when there hurt? Depends on the injury and the situation. That's really all I meant.

But once the injury involves the brain...the answer should always, ALWAYS, err on the side of caution. The score doesn't matter...but the fact that they were down 23 points at the time certainly doesn't make it look any better that they kept him out there.


September 28th, 2014 at 3:31 PM ^

The coaches left Shane in for one play after he was drilled. What exactly changed in their minds during that one extra play? Shane actually looked less wobbly during that last play. The only thing that makes sense is that the coaches realized they should have taken him out a play earlier. 


September 28th, 2014 at 4:05 PM ^

No, it's not. It's evidence of incompetence.

Disregard implies not caring about the players. You can't see Hoke kneeling over an injured Dennis Norfleet last game, stroking his helmet and trying to comfort him and come to that conclusion. On the other hand there are multiple examples of the game moving too fast for Hoke.

Hanlon's Razor says "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity," which I think applies here. 


September 28th, 2014 at 5:01 PM ^

If he cared, like you claim, he would make it his job to know. He has stated that he did not know. Thus, he does not care. Your claim that he cares is false. His actions clearly indicate that he was not interested in knowing the state of Shane's health.  It was not an important enough issue for him to care about. He even stated that he didn't know Shane left the field on a cart!  That's not evidence that the meathead cares about his players. It is evidence of indifference.


September 28th, 2014 at 3:31 PM ^

The coaches left Shane in for one play after he was drilled. What exactly changed in their minds during that one extra play? Shane actually looked less wobbly during that last play. The only thing that makes sense is that the coaches realized they should have taken him out a play earlier. 


September 28th, 2014 at 4:41 PM ^

Two things changed. When waiting for the call after the late hit, he was farther from the sideline and although he was woozy, someone could confuse that for him having just taken a big hit and trying to shake that off as well as the leg he hurt earlier.

After the next play, he was closer to the sideline and the clip clearly shows he could barely keep his eyes open. I think then is when they realized he might have had a head injury, not just a bruised body.

For what its worth, I put this all on Hoke. But what in the name of Christ are Paul Schmidt and Phil Johnson doing while this is going on?

As for putting him back in, I'm sure I'm in the minority, but he had been looked over by the trainers and seemingly cleared. I say seemingly to leave two options open: Hoke demanded Morris go in against Schmidt's wishes (unlikely) or Schmidt was too incompetent to keep Morris out pending further examination (also unlikely). I dont know, man. Huge fuckup. But there are way better explanations than evil or incompetence: people make mistakes. Thank God this one didn't compound itself.


September 28th, 2014 at 3:39 PM ^

I don't care what the score is. What the team's record is. You cannot handle your players like that. Even in an imaginary world where the team is 5-0 and Brady Hoke is the toast of Ann Arbor this is absolutely atrocious player management.

The days of tough guy meathead play til your drop football are over. Even if Morris doesn't take that devestating shot from Cockran, there's no reason for him to be limping around like that. Not effective as a player. Doesn't help the team. Subjects him to further injury.

Some things are a little more important than winning a football game.


September 28th, 2014 at 3:44 PM ^

I happen to be a doctor, and from my vantage point (yes, an armchair) none of those with responsibility to keep the kids out of unnecessarily dangerous situations (Hoke,trainers) can be trusted with that responsibility anymore. Was it a concussion? Can't say with 100% certainty. But obviously likely. What is undeniable is that Morris could no longer protect himself on the foeld.


September 28th, 2014 at 3:51 PM ^

I'm not a doctor and I can definitely see that based on the video evidence that it's likely. Like I said, the right thing is to take the kid out immediately to be safe. But on the other hand doing it one play later after the kid didn't want to come out initially is not the cataclysmic event everyone is making it out to be.



September 28th, 2014 at 4:08 PM ^

I'm sort of ok with him taking a play before he realizes/someone makes him aware Morris has a problem. But then he *put him back in* instead of burning a time out after ample opportunity to properly evaluate the situation. That's what makes the sequence, though not "cataclysmic", damning.


September 28th, 2014 at 4:12 PM ^

But on the other hand doing it one play later after the kid didn't want to come out initially is not the cataclysmic event everyone is making it out to be.

Yes it is.  It's the coach's call, not the kid's, especially when the kid is clearly wobbly.  Morris is 19 years old and wants to prove himself.  He should have absolutely no say in the matter.  What if he had gotten popped again?


September 28th, 2014 at 4:31 PM ^

I guess I'm doing a poor job framing this. I absolutely think leaving him in there for one more play was a mistake. Full stop. And for the record, he needs to be fired, but not for this. I just hate to see people twist this into a Hoke doesn't care for his players thing when it's pretty clear that this is just another in a long string of incidents where he's been caught deer in headlights style during games. Some of the comments here are frankly nothing short of character assasination.

Bill in Birmingham

September 28th, 2014 at 5:25 PM ^

FWIW, I think you are right on the mark here. I think this is a case where being clueless is much more important than bad blocking schemes in the big picture. I do not in any way think Brady Hoke was intentionally leaving Shane Morris in consciously aware that he was endangering the kid's health. But unfortunately I believe that is what he did consciously or unconsciously. The video is clearly damning in that regard.


September 28th, 2014 at 4:34 PM ^

No fighter, no athlete, no competitor at that level wants to come out unless some severe injury precludes them from physically able to do so.   Why do you think there are so many cases of CTE in the NFL?  Because the players get concussions, but they keep playing because that's the culture and what they're taught to do.  It's up to the coaches and the staff to act in the best interests of the players because sometimes they are unable to do so themselves.  


September 28th, 2014 at 3:31 PM ^

I've been arguing against Hoke from the start. Y'all finally coming around enough to actually say that Hoke needs to go are seizing upon this Morris incident to justify your outrage, to pretend you've been leading this charge. Hoke should be fired but he did not know that Morris was concussed. 


September 28th, 2014 at 4:50 PM ^

This is my take. The film shows Morris hobbling after every play of the drive. One could mistake his wooziness for just being beaten up.

Then, the film shows him barely being able to keep his eyes open, right in front of the coaches, at which point he is immediately yanked. This seems prudent.

He is then seen talking to the trainer, and goes in for one more play. If the trainer thought he had a concussion, he doesn't go back in.

Hoke didn't know. Should he have? Yeah. Does it speak to some level of cluelessness? Yeah. But this is a huge pileup because the team sucks and that loss was the result of the worst offensive performance I've ever seen at Michigan.


September 28th, 2014 at 3:31 PM ^

I sense that Hoke has beat "toughness" in the player's heads so much if they get hurt they are too scared to exit the game for fear of Hoke giving them the eye roll. There's a serious problem and Hoke is it.


September 28th, 2014 at 3:34 PM ^

Haven't been able to keep up with the hundreds of comments posted on this topic, so SIAP but maybe this would get Michigan out if its $2 or $3M buyout of Hoke's contract.


September 28th, 2014 at 3:34 PM ^

Brandon and Hoke, or is it Hoke and Brandon. I am embarassed.

Maybe we ought to do a seance and call up the ghost of Don Canham for advice on the matter, although I'm sure what he would say: clean house.

Am missing Rich Rod.




September 28th, 2014 at 3:41 PM ^

Hoke has lost all credibility. This incident plus how he handled the late hit on Gardner in the nd game shows who he really is. When he made his first year here all about the seniors, I thought it was a real class move. But if he was really a coach who believed in toughness and taking care of his players, he would have stormed across the field after either of those hits and screamed his head off at the ref until he got an ejection or something. Instead he stands there like a coward and all his players follow suit. When you hang your players out to dry, they don't want to play for you.

I'm really conservative about firing coaches. I thought rich rod should have gotten one more year. Going into this season I thought hoke should get one more no matter what. But his handling of these two incidents has changed my mind. Fire him and Brandon tomorrow. If you don't, players are going to start leaving. I would.

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September 28th, 2014 at 3:42 PM ^

Whatever Hoke knew or didn't know, his actions put a player in an incredibly dangerous position. Incompetence, stupidity, malevolence? Who knows. Doesn't matter. He is in a position of tremendous responsibility for the welfare of young people. If he can't do his job appropriately, he needs to go.


September 28th, 2014 at 3:42 PM ^

"Bluntly, anyone arguing that we shouldn't jump down Hoke's throat because of the slight possibility Morris was not concussed is an idiot."

This is the correct answer. When it comes to a possible head injury, it is unacceptable in today's world to not take extra precautions. It is ludicrous that seemingly NO action was taken, when an entire coaching and medical staff on field AND staff in the booths should have clearly seen what everyone watching on their couch could also see.

Reno Drew

September 28th, 2014 at 3:43 PM ^

As a physician and Michigan fan, I'm shocked like everybody else at the way this whole thing played out.    Hoke, the coaching staff and most importantly the medical staff has some serious questions to answer that I'm sure they will avoid in the next few press conferences.   What I don't understand was 1) Was he evaluated on the sidelines and 2) if he did have a concussion, why the medical staff didn't take his helmet away from him.   That's a really easy common way to ensure that a player doesn't make his way back on the field during the game without being cleared.


September 28th, 2014 at 5:00 PM ^

I dont disagree in any material way, but its not on any of the coaches, it is on the head athletic trainer, Paul Schmidt.

There is good reason for this. He is trained in this and they are not. They are worried about a lot of things and could presumably make just this mistake, he should not.

Two scenarios: Morris didn't suffer a concussion, was cleared by Schmidt, and went in the game. Ugly situation, but no harm.

Or, Schmidt either misdiagnosed, didn't take the helmet away, or in some other way fucked up.

It's on Hoke, in the end, but the whole thing comes down to whether Schmidty was right or wrong in allowing Shane back in.

Blue Durham

September 28th, 2014 at 8:26 PM ^

It is on the head coach. If he needs more time to know what the fuck is going on, he could have put another QB in. The coach should error on the side of safety.

Part of what is particularly ridiculous is the fact that Morris and the offense was totally ineffective. Removing Morris was not akin to removing Joe Montana.

What was gained by leaving Morris in? Absolutely nothing. It was an incredibly stupid decision made by a totally clueless coach.

And Hoke could have used his damn time outs to gain time and get more information. They aren't that fucking precious. And certainly not at that point.

As head coach, Hoke controls what goes on the field with regard to the team and each and every player. He didn't, the events controlled him.

Blue Durham

September 28th, 2014 at 9:57 PM ^

Just because an underling doesn't hold a player out doesn't mean that it is OK to put that player back in.  They are not the same, and should not provide cover for the person who has ultimate responsibility. 

I didn't think that Morris should not even have been in the game when he took the head-shot, let alone after that. 

Am I holding Hoke to too high of a standard to actually know what is going on around him, in what is a fairly confined area?

And if he doesn't, at least to realize it and get the information he needs to make a sound decision?  He has assistants and other personnel, he has time outs.  Is that really too much to ask?  Particulary after such a violent hit?