Fitz being "prepared" to play Bama

Submitted by Phil Brickma on August 13th, 2012 at 10:10 AM

According to an AA.com article, no decision on Fitz has been made yet, but according to Fred Jackson, Hoke said to prepare Fitz as if he was going to play the season opener. Both Fitz and Clark return to practice today. Interesting to see how this thing plays out.

"Brady just said to prepare him, and that’s what we’re doing," running backs coach Fred Jackson said Sunday during the team's media day.

http://annarbor.com/sports/um-football/michigan-preparing-suspended-tailback-fitz-toussaint-as-though-he-will-play-against-alabama/[email protected]

 

Comments

jblaze

August 13th, 2012 at 10:33 AM ^

1) you have no idea what Hoke made him do/ promise (other than missing the 1st week of camp)

2) Other than blowing a .12, other details were not released

3) The legal system has not yet weighed in on his case (e.g. look at Marvin Robinson)

It's not as simple of an issue as you think, and even if it were, you don't know what Hoke

Lionsfan

August 13th, 2012 at 10:58 AM ^

What other details need to be released? He blew a .12, which is considered drunk driving. This isn't like Clark or Furman where the details are fuzzy, it's a clear cut case. It is as simple as we think, and like Magnus said below, doing some extra running doesn't feel right for something that kills thousands of people every year

SC Wolverine

August 13th, 2012 at 11:12 AM ^

If it was you who had made a mistake -- or been accused of one -- you would think that all the details were essential to understanding what you had done.  The details always matter because that is where the truth lies.  For Hoke to treat the players fairly, he has to care what the truth is.

SC Wolverine

August 13th, 2012 at 11:39 AM ^

I have no idea.  But the point was whether or not it should matter to Hoke, who probably does have the details.  There may or may not be relevant details that are influencing Hoke's decision.  But the fact is that we do not all have a right to know all the details.  Hoke probably does have that right and he would be wise to take details under consideration.  Treating people fairly does not require having a cookie-cutter approach that ignores important facts.  

For what it's worth, I would prefer Hoke to suspend Fitz for the Bama game, according to the information that I have.  I just don't have the details.

SC Wolverine

August 13th, 2012 at 11:42 AM ^

Let me give you some possible details that might make a difference: 

1)  Perhaps there is evidence of operator error.  Maybe Fitz blew a much lower number when he was brought into the station, calling into question the accuracy of the original test.

2)  Perhaps the police officer has a record of targeting college athletes...

3)  Perhaps Fitz was taking prescription medicine that might have rendered a false test.

4)  Perhaps Fitz was driving because his daughter had to make an important hospital appointment.

Now, none of these is probably true.  But they are examples of details that would matter.

go16blue

August 13th, 2012 at 12:13 PM ^

2 and 4 wouldn't matter, if he was drinking and forced to drive for some urgent reason (taking a friend to a hospital, for example) we would know, but that's not the case here. If he were taking his kid to a hospital appointment it would be even worse that he decided to drink first. 1 and 3 would just mean he wasn't driving drunk. All of these comments are made under the assumption that he was driving drunk, obviously if he wasn't, and he was completely innocent, there would be no reason to suspend him.

The dude drove drunk. He should be suspended no matter what for that alone, the severity of the punishment will depend on a lot of things, but anything less than a full game is too weak imo, considering he drove drunk.

BigBlue02

August 13th, 2012 at 12:24 PM ^

Look, I'm all for him being suspended, but you have no idea what happened. What if he were in a tow zone and he was driving 5 miles per hour while moving it 30 feet around a corner? What if he wasn't actually driving and he was just sleeping in his car drunk? You can get a DUI as long as you have your keys on you. I'm not saying he shouldn't be suspended, but to proclaim we know what happened and we should all be disappointed if he isn't suspended is ridiculous.

UMaD

August 13th, 2012 at 1:18 PM ^

I get the argument for being cautious in passing judgment, but there is a very high liklihood that we know what happened here. The courts will dispel justice, as appropriate, and that's where we have to have all the facts. 

For football, its about what message it sends to fans and players.  This isn't petty theft we're talking about - it's putting other people's lives at risk.  If there are some extenuating circumstances, they should come to light.  Otherwise it sends a horrible message that driving drunk 'isn't really that bad'.

wolverine1987

August 13th, 2012 at 8:05 PM ^

making a first mistake and getting a DUI became some major punishable offense? Yes, it is wrong and deserves punishment. And to be clear, for example I totally supported the Stonum getting kicked off team thing. But a first offense for a DUI, (for a 22 year old who drinks legally) which is a stupid decision, IMO is not nearly as serious as for example, Frank Clark's stealing offense. Or MSU players beating up guys,  Or selling and doing drugs. I think Hoke is fully capable of punishing the hell out of Fitz the next few weeks, and potentially playing him. And I think that's ok. I'd say the same for any other kid on another team as well.

Soulfire21

August 13th, 2012 at 1:32 PM ^

At some point, we must realize that there should be punishment given the details that we know:  Fitz was operating a vehicle, blew a 0.12, that is drunk driving.

I wonder how many people on the board would jump like this to defend a Spartan or Buckeye player under similar circumstances?  My guess would be close to nobody.  There would be no "well, what if so and so had this" and "consider these scenarios"... there will only be "sit him out for 1 or x amount of games"

And if Dantonio or Meyer chose to play him?  There would be outrage.  We'd be calling universities Thug U and the like, etc.

I'm as upset about Fitz as anyone else on the board, but the message our program and our coach needs to send is a true zero tolerance message.  The perception of the program should be that we run a clean program with integrity.

Now, I am certainly open to the fact that we may be missing relevant details (that hopefully emerge later, after Hoke announces his decision).  But what I (and I think others) are saying is given what we know, he should probably sit out at least a game as punishment.

As I said, I'm open to not knowing the whole case (I don't, no do I pretend to).

MilkSteak

August 13th, 2012 at 12:08 PM ^

I know it's not always black and white, but what could Hoke have possibly made him do or promise to do that would serve as ample punishment for a DUI? I personally don't think any amount of running or promising to not do it again or promising to give 5 speeches to high schools about drunk driving would send as much of a message as sitting him for one of the biggest games of the year.

I'm commenting with the information that we do have, which is that he has been charged with a DUI. If it comes out later that the cops got it wrong and Fitz is not guilty then I will change my stance, but unless this happens before the Bama game I'm not going to be excited to see him playing. It sends a bad message to the rest of the team if you allow someone with pending DUI charges off the hook.  

ijohnb

August 13th, 2012 at 10:44 AM ^

a DUI is serious, if the choices are "serious" and "not serious," I don't think anybody would disagree with that.  But young twenty somethings figure that out by the ocean-full after their first offense, with fines and drivers license restrictions and generally feeling like shit about yourself for a very long period of time.  But this "please don't play him" stuff, I feel like it is attempting to reach for an unnecessary pedalstal with regard to a first offense DUI, and also securing a built in excuse for a possible and very feared result in the Alabama game.  He could have hurt somebody, he could have ruined his life, he could have ruined somebody elses life, but the reality is that he didn't.  He will be answering to a Judge, a probation officer, the secretary of state and himself for quite some time.  I am not sure that I think the Alabama game has much to do with anything.   I hope that he has learned his lesson, that he gets through this time of his life and become a better person for it, and gain 150 yards against Alabama.

Now I'll duck.

MilkSteak

August 13th, 2012 at 11:57 AM ^

You make some good points but I still believe he shouldn't play in the Alabama game at the very least. Yes, he is being punished through legal action and through shame, but I think that a football related punishment (suspension from games, not pushing sleds) is important as well. Making him sit out for the Alabama game shows that serious run ins with the law will not be tolerated at Michigan regardless of how important you are to the team or how big the game is. It has nothing to do with wanting an excuse for a loss against Bama. 

MGoBender

August 13th, 2012 at 12:07 PM ^

I hate the "he could have hurt someone, but didn't" argument.

Imagine someone took a gun to a semi-populated area, randomly fired off 12 shots over the course of a few minutes, and happened to not hit anyone.  Would you argue that he shouldn't get any serious punishment because nobody got hit?

BiSB

August 13th, 2012 at 12:15 PM ^

Imagine someone took a gun to a semi-populated area, randomly fired off 12 shots over the course of a few minutes, and happened to not hit anyone. Would you argue that he shouldn't get any serious punishment because nobody got hit?

Well, yeah. Someone who does that will be punished WAY differently by the law if he kills someone (manslaughter or 2nd degree murder) vs. if he misses everyone (assault with a deadly weapon, illegal discharge of a weapon, etc.). The law absolutely takes into account the results of a crime, not just the potential results of a crime. If Fitz had killed someone, he'd be in jail for a long-ass time. But he didn't. The same actions based on the same decisions and mental state can result in vastly different punishments.

Does that mean that a football coach has to follow the same theory? Of course not. But you have to at least recognize that it is a perfectly reasonable distinction.

ommeethatsees

August 13th, 2012 at 12:27 PM ^

No but the judicial system considers it differently than if one of those bullets hit someone and for good reason.  If he's caught driving intoxicated it's DUI.  If he kiils someone while driving intoxicated it's vehicular manslaughter.  Should a person who is just driving while intoxicated receive 10 years in prison?  Should a person who kills someone while driving intoxicated get 12 months probation?  There is a difference in the outcome and so there should be a difference in the punishment.  I'm not seeing your point.

Mancave Moe

August 13th, 2012 at 1:25 PM ^

As a blogger, we don't need to support our judgments with proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

The big distinction between the two sides of the argument is what burden of proof the government needs to find the player guilty/punish a player versus what burden a blogger(anyone besides the government) needs. 

As we all know, the Constitution requires close to certainty (reasonable doubt) to support a criminal conviction, in this case DUI. So, the AA prosecutor probably needs "all of the facts" and needs to prove them beyond a reasonable doubt to take away a person's right via whatever means they punish a drunk driver.

As an average person making a judgment, like all other judgments we must make in carrying out our lives, we don't need to support our judgments with proof beyond a reasonable doubt. You do not have toinvite your brother's friend Jim over your house anymore if you think he cheats and steals; Jim can't whine that you do not all the facts  and 99% certainty to support a cheating allegation. This extends to people like Hoke: maybe his standard for disciplining players is a preponderance of evidence (51% certainty) or clear and convincing evidence.

For a blogger, a .12 BAC is probably good enough proof a problem to make an informed judgment. For the State, 98% certainty is not good enough. I have seen a few examples of this at trial where the highway patrolman admits he did not calibrate his device twice. Ooops. Without double calibration, the State cannot convict despite a pretty good idea that the device only fails 1 in 1 million times.

Moreover, using pre-robbery OJ for example, nobody would call you out for stating that OJ was a criminal based on the criminal jury's failure to convict. You could make your own judgment of the guy based on the facts that you do know because you are not the State. You just can't throw him in jail for your conclusion. 

In Fitz's case, what if the arresting officer failed to calibrate the breathtest 2x and Fitz got off? Would we rather say, "See, he was not guilty all along, you shouldn't rush to judge when you don't know all the facts." Or would we rather realize there probably was an underlying problem, drinking and driving, and someone in the athletic dept. should intervene even though DUI cannot be proven to 99% certainty.

Tater

August 13th, 2012 at 10:16 AM ^

First offense, DUI: not enough to make him miss a game if he jumps through all of the other hoops that Hoke will require.  

OTOH, I am eagerly awaiting to see how Clark's case works out.  Was it a misunderstanding, a vindictive move on on the part of someone he angered, or did he actually steal from a fellow student?  I would be in favor of him coming back in either of the first two scenarios, but I don't want to see Michigan be a program like the one in EL if he is guilty as originally charged.

 

Magnus

August 13th, 2012 at 10:27 AM ^

Disagree.  Almost 11,000 people died from alcohol-related accidents in 2009.  A bit of extra running doesn't teach these kids how serious of an offense that is.

If he doesn't miss the first half of Alabama, the entire game, or more, I'm going to be disappointed in Hoke.  This isn't about football.  It's about life.  Toussaint has a kid.  What if he ran into a tree, flipped his car, and died?  What if he killed someone else's brother or son or mother?  Drunk driving has the potential to be a very serious, catastrophic decision.

LSA Aught One

August 13th, 2012 at 10:32 AM ^

I think we need to ask for an "I couldn't agree more" moderate tag.  In the absence of one, I chose Insightful.  I know too many people whose lives have been changed for the worse due to alcohol related driving incidents.  This is not something that should be overlooked. 

lbpeley

August 13th, 2012 at 11:05 AM ^

stop, though?

How many more 1000's died due to speeding? If he had been pulled over for doing 30 in a 25 are we going to teach him the dangers of speeding by missing games?

What if he'd been busted for texting while driving? They are starting to view that as almost, if not more, dangerous than drunk driving. Sure, Fitz could have hit a kid crossing the street while looking at his phone. He didn't, though.

I'm not saying play him and it's not serious. I'm just pointing out that it's just not as simple as we are making it out to be.

Magnus

August 13th, 2012 at 11:21 AM ^

I don't know about texting and driving.  That's a relatively new issue, and I don't think it's been studied as in depth.  But maybe texting and driving should warrant the same response.

As far as speeding goes, I don't know how many people it kills.  The difference is that an aware driver who's going 5 MPH over the speed limit isn't that dangerous.  There's a reason that a speeding ticket up to 19 MPH over the speed limit isn't punished that severely...but when it hits 20 MPH, it turns into a reckless driving charge.

I would rather be driving near someone who's speeding than someone who's drunk.  The law views those things very differently, so I don't see why we would view them as being the same.

BiSB

August 13th, 2012 at 11:27 AM ^

A guy named David Strayer at the University of Utah has done some great studies about the effects of cell phones on drivers. Talking on a cell phone (hands-free or not) gives someone approximately the same level of cognitive impairment as having a BAC of about .08 to .10.

teldar

August 13th, 2012 at 11:48 AM ^

What do they say about having passengers?
As far as the study goes, are people instructed to stop paying attention to the phone in times of driving emergency? Study details are as important as results.

I use hands free fairly frequently. I don't stop paying attention to driving to talk to people. I imagine some people do. Frequently.

BiSB

August 13th, 2012 at 12:04 PM ^

And passengers didn't have nearly the same impact. They hypothesized that it was because passengers also notice traffic conditions, and tend to adjust their conversation accordingly. They are also able to indicate to the driver, "hey, there's a moose in the road."

To engage in conversation, you need a certain amount of brain power, which necessarily pulls some of your brain's processing power away from the road. It creates what researchers call "inattention blindness." So when you say "you don't stop paying attention to driving," you really do. And that's the danger; people don't think it affects them because their eyes are still on the road, but the information isn't being processed nearly as well. It's like people saying "I'm a good drunk driver."

MileHighWolverine

August 13th, 2012 at 11:08 AM ^

I'm conflicted and I'll tell you why - drunk driving is not just a football problem. What would happen to a regular student if they were arrested for DUI? Are they booted out of school? Told they shouldn't go to the first week of classes as punishment? I'm not sure but I don't think that's the case. So, shouldn't Fitz be allowed to continue on with his life, like everyone else does when this happens, and then deal with the legal ramifications as they unfold?

OTOH, I do think it reflects poorly and he needs to be taught a lesson. Not sure how or what should be done but I don't think holding him out of a game is going to teach that lesson. I think you do that OFF the football field.

just my $0.02.

Magnus

August 13th, 2012 at 11:15 AM ^

A regular student isn't a public representative of the school and the program.

There are increased expectations for athletic team members, just like there are increased rewards.  A regular student might not be suspended from school, but he also doesn't get free clothing, free tuition, free meals, free tutoring, etc.

MileHighWolverine

August 13th, 2012 at 11:37 AM ^

I understand what you are saying but there are multiple forms of punishment that don't take him off the field. 

I'm not sure what the right punishment is, but I'm not sure having him sit out is the one I would opt for immediately. I would actually prefer he get counseling and community service first and then go from there.

The other thing is I don't know Fitz personally so I'm not sure what level of punishment he needs to get the message. He might need to miss football or he might already have figured out he messed up badly and is set straight. Different kids need different punishment to get through to them.

Magnus

August 13th, 2012 at 11:45 AM ^

"Different kids need different punishment to get through to them."

I agree to a certain extent, but this is a very public issue.  You can't really make Toussaint run and then make Third String Offensive Guard stand there in street clothes for two games for the same mistake.

Punishments have to have some level of consistency.

NYWolverine

August 13th, 2012 at 12:07 PM ^

Yes, and a paid representative at that. He has an incentivized scholarship to publicly play football for the University of Michigan. I don't know if a player has to sign a contract like the one in Dazed and Confused, but as consideration for the scholarship and opportunity to increase his professional stock, I'd argue that Fitz is certainly expected to make grades, practice hard, stay out of legal trouble, and reflect honorably on the university.

But on the same token, my sense is most of us don't feel this is a material breach of that "contract", i.e., one that requires vacating his scholarship and dismissal from the team. So insofar as we're attempting to inject a sliding scale of penalties into a hypothetical contract, this really is not a simple decision. What if Hoke and the Athletic Department took Fitz to task with a community service requirement? And/or required him to speak around campus, become active in VAADD and MADD, wear the red ribbon for drunk driving awareness during the Alabama Game, etc.?

Someone above said that in cases of drunk driving, kids learn "by the ocean-full" after their first offenses: with license suspensions, mandated programs, etc. Unfortunately, for an offense that has the potential for such terrible consequences, it's only a kid's misjudgement away from occurring every day.

And as another poster alluded, the devil is always in the details. Whether this was a first offense, the character and remorse of the kid upon learning the potential consequences, Fitz's want-to desire to make the situation right (i.e., did he run to the coaches crying to join MADD, VADD, and publicly speak out on behalf of families hurt by drunk drivers, or did he make excuses for himself with a me-first attitude?): these things all matter.

I'd love to believe that Fitz is a high character kid who made a terribly negligent misjudgment. Assuming that is true, if Fitz played in the Alabama Game wearing the red ribbon, and the game announcers made reference to it (and why it was being worn) during the game, I think that would be the best response [along with a team penalty, i.e., stairs, community service, etc.].

It would be even cooler if, as an act of solidarity, the entire Team wore red ribbons.

My $0.02.

Section 1

August 13th, 2012 at 11:16 AM ^

Michigan football players have rights like everybody else.  Due process in court, civil rights, etc.

But playing football for Michigan, starting against Alabama, and getting to play a full season, is not a civil right.  It is a privilege.  And it is a privilege that is laden with a lot of responsibilities, particularly in relation to the public image of the University. 

I agree; a DUI charge (not even a conviction) ought not to get a student kicked out of school.  And so Toussaint is not being kicked out of school.

But when it comes to the privilege of putting on a uniform and representing the University, that's a very different matter from "regular students."

BiSB

August 13th, 2012 at 11:17 AM ^

I think too often we conflate "how dangerous is drunk driving" (really, really, really dangerous and stupid and selfish and DON'T DO THAT") with "how serious as a criminal matter is a DUI."

Generally speaking, I believe that football-related punishments should mirror the severity of the legal punishments. While driving drunk is obviously a really, REALLY serious thing, the law treats a first offense DUI as a couple thousand dollar fine and probation. It's really hard to base punishment on how bad things COULD have been, otherwise you have to take a much harder tack on a lot of stuff, all the way down to speeding tickets.

I do think, however, that it is really important that Fitz (or anyone in this situation) understands how bad drunk driving is.  That's why a second offense is much, much worse in both the eyes of the law and any reasonable football coach (cough cough LookingAtYouDantonio cough). Doing it again really indicates that a guy doesn't "get it."

Meth

August 13th, 2012 at 11:54 AM ^

I agree 100% that a DUI is very serious. I just don't agree that the only way to teach a lesson is by missing games. I understand that this is one of the only ways to provide punishment on a football team, but often getting arrested and the embarrassment is worse than the actual punishment. I know that if this happened to me, the legal issues and letting down my team would be plenty enough to make me not want to put myself in that situation again. If Hoke decides that Fitz needs to miss to teach him a lesson (he knows this kid and his personality better than we do) then I am all for it. If this happens again, then suspensions will be necessary at that point.