Fitz Pleads Guilty of Operating While Visibly Impaired

Submitted by Frank Drebin on August 28th, 2012 at 2:32 PM

Pleads down from OWI. You would have to figure this is the day Hoke was waiting on to make the final say in whether or not he plays. After pleading down, I have to think he is going to play. the crime was committed in July, and he has had nearly 1 1/2 months to pay the price, along with having to suffer the legal consequences. I would be surprised if we don't see Fitz on the field at some point on Saturday.



August 28th, 2012 at 3:39 PM ^

I think he should sit, but I'm not going to consider Hoke "nutless" or burn my Michigan paraphernalia if he plays. I agree that you need to send a message, but to who? Other players within the program or everyone else? With the Fort on lockdown, we have no idea what punishment they may have received. I was young and stupid and drove drunk twice. Once because, in my 22 year old mind, I had no other choice. I have no excuse for the other (for either). I was lucky not to get caught, and I don't really even drink anymore (I don't consider "having a drink" and "drinking" to be the same thing). Coach Hoke will do the right thing, even if some of us don't agree on what that is.


August 28th, 2012 at 3:44 PM ^

Median here is sit Fitz for the first half. He is still being punished game time, but doesn't lose out on all 4 quarters. This is a first time offender and the situation seemed pretty tame, ie he was cooperative with the Police and everyone else. Lord knows Hoke & Co. have made him pay dearly during practices, with possible early morning running sessions up and down the bleachers in the Big House (I believe Arrington had to do something similar a few years back). As far as Frank Clark is concerned, he should definitely sit the whole game. Hoke still makes a strong point to his players and appeases the masses, without doing too much and overreacting to make a statement and appease the Drew Sharps of the world. Not saying he would make a decisoin based on D.S., but you get my point.

My name ... is Tim

August 28th, 2012 at 3:59 PM ^

Can't people have rational differing opinions on this? I'm personally of the opinion that a college kid getting a DUI or an MIP or something of that sort for the first time doesn't need to be suspended. If it's a second offense and appears to be a course of conduct or if it's a first-time offense involving violence, then yes, absolutely. However, a DUI or an MIP can often be characterized as a mistake. One that will be dealt with by law enforcement officials and the judicial system. I get that some programs do consider it suspension worthy but does that mean that Hoke has to adopt their take? He just kicked Darryl Stonum off the team for repeating similar conduct. I don't think if he starts Fitz that he's capitulated to the "FOOTBALL OVER ALL ELSE" frenzy. It's not a disgrace to the University if he starts Fitz. Maybe you think he should be suspended, which is a reasonable opinion, but I don't, and I think anyone who embraces my viewpoint shouldn't be colored as someone willing to just chuck away all the University stands for in order to get football wins.


August 28th, 2012 at 7:00 PM ^

Stonum was on what, his seventh chance? That's not exactly iron fisted discipline. But I can appreciate your stance in defense of young college kids everywhere. I'm sure if this were a hypothetical MSU player (we'll just hypothetically call him "Rucker"), you would be taking the same noble and forgiving tone.


August 28th, 2012 at 4:09 PM ^


Gene Wojciechowski  has a column up at the WWL on the start of the season. Halfway through the column, he has a section about Casey Pachall, the starting quarterback at TCU.


Pachall is a talented QB, setting records in completions, percentage, and yards. However, Wojciechowski writes,

a recent report revealed that Pachall tested positive for marijuana use in February and that he also told police he had used cocaine and Ecstasy. TCU coach Gary Patterson was so outraged by the behavior that he suspended Pachall for zero games.

Here is the key sentence:

Given how other programs have dealt with misbehaving players, TCU's leniency seems either naive or conveniently calculated.

Wojciechowski then goes through what other programs did:

  • LSU star Tyrann Mathieu's drug-related violation of team policy resulted in his dismissal from the Tigers.
  • Former Auburn running back Michael Dyer was drop-kicked from Arkansas State after marijuana and a gun were found in a car he was driving.
  • An offseason drug arrest resulted in a two-game suspension for Clemson star wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
  • All-SEC wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers was suspended indefinitely by Tennessee after a reported substance abuse violation.

According to TCU, Pachall's situation was handled "internally," which included drug and alcohol counseling and possibly drug testing.

Wojciechowski's conclusion?

There's a perception TCU was soft on Pachall after a failed drug test . . . the program's own fault.

If Hoke does not sit Fitz the entire Alabama game, the perception will be that Michigan is soft on drugs, alcohol, and crime. I detest Drew Sharp, but he said much the same thing in a different way. For the sake of the program, it just isn't worth playing Toussaint.

My name ... is Tim

August 28th, 2012 at 4:17 PM ^

I understand your point and initially that was my first conclusion in the matter, but the more I thought about it, what impact does the perception of media types (re: "tough on crime" attitude of programs) actually have on the programs? If we don't believe he should be suspended because he doesn't deserve it, do we really need to capitulate just because Drew Sharp or Wojo tells me that Michigan will now be perceived as soft on crime? Particularly when there's directly contradicting evidence in the form of Darryl Stonum, a player who would be unbelievably instrumental on this year's team.

Look at all the damage the perceived/real moral issues surrounding Saban's stance on oversigning and Dantonio's stance on discipline have caused.

Monocle Smile

August 28th, 2012 at 6:17 PM ^

I heavily dislike the cries from the "there needs to be a public example" crowd. It's as if no matter what Toussaint does in private, it will never fulfill some moral obligation to the public that a suspension will.

I once thought this 2007. Now? After the Chris L. Rucker stuff and Glenn Winston and Tatgate...NO ONE CARES now except a few Michigan fans wringing their fists from ivory towers.

Screw public opinion. I'm not sure any fanbase in the country is as hard on its football program as Michigan.


August 28th, 2012 at 4:21 PM ^

As usual, I disagree with Sharp... he says the longer it goes, the more like Touissant plays.

I think, however, that the longer it goes, the less likely he plays..... at the very least, Hoke will have both of them dress but not play a single play, a scarlet letter of sorts....  but the most likely is that they don't travel with team, nor play.


August 28th, 2012 at 4:34 PM ^

This situation is a "win / win" for Michigan-Haters.  If Fitz plays and does well...then they criticize Hoke for playing him.  If Fitz does not play and Michigan loses, then they laugh and say that Michigan is not ready to play the mighty SEC.

Its really a crappy situation so the best thing to do is what Coach Hoke is doing and just tune that shit out.


August 28th, 2012 at 4:51 PM ^

It's simple.  Fitz should not and will not play. Let the legend of Thomas Rawls be born behind, what I see as, a very underrated O-line at his point. Pound Rawls right up there crimson asses. Sorry, THEIR. I know the rules around here. Just a little slip.


August 28th, 2012 at 4:53 PM ^

Why didn't fitz contact the firm at the top of mgoblog to "avoid a DUI conviction" and secondly, why should the rest of the team, those that didn't get caught drinking and driving, have to suffer because fitz screwed up? Any punishment should be solely for fitz, not the entire team. Make him speak to hs kids about drinking and driving. Make him attend Survivors Speakout, but to say he has to miss a game to be punished is ridiculous. Should he decide to go pro after this season, missing 1 game isn't going to teach him anything.


August 28th, 2012 at 6:36 PM ^

Letting your teammates down is probably the biggest punishment you could ever receive. Is running extra sprints and waking up early ever going to resonate as loud as letting down your entire team. My senior year of football our starting linebacker got a DUI and missed four games. I'll never forget how bad he felt about letting everyone down, he could hardly look any of us in the eye.


August 28th, 2012 at 5:03 PM ^

The kid made a mistake.  Did the pellet gun he had on him come up at all?  That was the most disappointing thing about all of this, that he was carrying a pellet gun that had been modified to look like a real gun.

He also had a previous DWLS, so I hope that doesn't mean jail time.

Kids make mistakes, but I think Hoke needs to sit him for at least 1 game.


August 28th, 2012 at 5:39 PM ^

Id be shocked if he's on the field...Hoke's whole point about "this is Michigan" goes deeper than wins and losses and recruiting. Based off the tolerance for Stonum, I'd say we won't see Fitz in Dallas. This is Michigan and if the past is any indicator, he will be suspended.


August 28th, 2012 at 6:06 PM ^

Hoke, by playing the wait-and-see game, has worsened the situation. He's made it bigger. Either way, he should have made a call on this already and put it in the past. Why keep it alive like this? Now, if plays Fitz, it will look especially bad. Which is why I'm guessing he's not playing him.


August 28th, 2012 at 10:13 PM ^

None of us knows what really happened, but the police did report that FItz was well-behaved and extremely polite.  That is not a common description of a completely wasted drunk.

Also, when most imperfect medical tests--like the breathalyzer---are done, some people will inevitably be miscategorized (eg called drunk when they are sober).

To illustrate, suppose a test correctly detects 99% of real drunks (True positive (TP) rate=.99. However, when the person is not really drunk, it calls them drunk 20% of the time (False positive (FP) rate=.2.   Suppose further that 30% of people who are pullled over and tested really are drunk, but 70% are not.  Then, a positive test for drunk driving among 99 people will correctly identify 66 true drunks but falsely accuse 33 people who are not drunk.

Clearly, the results could be less extreme for the breathalzyer.  But there would still be a substantial percentage of falsely accused.   One would then need to rely on other behavioral evidence of intoxication, and only the courts can  really judge the quality of such evidence.


FP rate .2

TP .99  rate.

Prior chance of being drunk = .3  Prior Odds of being drunk = .3/.7

Posterior Odds of being drunk= Prior Odds  x .TPrate /FP rate =  .3/.7 x .99/.2  = about  2: 1

But that means  that among 99 people tested,  66 real drunks will be found but 33 will be falsely called drunk

(this purely hypothetical example assumes that someone actually verifies the drunk-sober status of those not pulled over by police and it is based on a simplifying assumption of conditional independence.  Less extreme but still illustrative results would be produced by relaxing this assumption).


August 28th, 2012 at 6:57 PM ^

I would say "I can't wait to see how you guys reconciliate this with your delusion that UM is morally superior to the rest of college football", but it seems you've already done it. Does the UM hypocrisy know no boundaries?


August 28th, 2012 at 7:10 PM ^

ideally. Fitz would have come clean with Hoke as to what really happened and Hoke would have lain out a plan for him in terms of redeeming himself at that point. Don't see why the legal reprocussions would have made any difference under those circumstances


August 28th, 2012 at 8:31 PM ^

(as occured with my last post)

You ask a reasonable question.   My answer: The problem is that none of us--except perhaps Fitz, his lawyer and his coach--know exactly what happened.   While a truly intoxicated person clearly deserves serious punishment, the determination of intoxication is not always so clear. To take an extreme example, would you not feel unjustly accused of drunk driving if you had a half of a beer, then narrowly avoided an accident, got pulled over, and falsely test positive on a breath test (for any of the reasons cited above)?

I am not saying that this actually happened to Fitz (in fact, I doubt it).   I only point out that there can be a grey zone between being completely alcholol free and completely inebriated.  Just where Fitz stood in that grey zone---while certainly subject to misrepresentation by a dishonest, self-serving coach--- could rightly have a bearing on the punishment that an honest coach gives him.



August 28th, 2012 at 7:24 PM ^

 Is the primary evidence re: Fitz's intoxication a breath test?  If so, the number of possible sources of error in that test is breathtaking: eg differences in individual breathing patterns and physiology, conditions such as gingivitis, esophageal reflux, activities such as kissing, use of breath spray or mouthwash, as well as variations in the time of alcohol consumption and a multitude of possible test errors.*  (indeed, if he drank brandy, as he says he did, then I wonder if this more aromatic substance would be more likely to yield false positive test results.  I also wonder if the lower breathing rate of athletes does the opposite of hyperventilation and falsely increases apparent alcohol in the breath tests).

In any case, Fitz's plea down to a lesser sentence may have arisen because the police could not definitively prove that he had an illegally high blood alcohol concentration.  Perhaps the "visible evidence of impairment" acknowldged in Fitz's plea was based on other, subjective evidence, such as police impressions of his speech, eye movements, finger-to-nose testing, etc.--but these impressions too can be subjective and prone to error.

I raise these questions merely to illustrate how one could wrongly assume that a breath test is definitive proof of a DUI.  It is not.  However, I do not in any way justify Fitz's apparent poor judgment.  IMO, he does deserve some punishment for himself.  At the same time, though, the team itself really does not deserve punishment, and to keep him out of the whole Ala game would reduce their chances of victory.

So, what would be fair?   I have an admittedly unconventional suggestion: Suspend Fitz not for a single game but for 1 1/2 games.  the latter would include the first half of each of the next 3 games (Ala, Air Force, and UMass). That would not punish the entire team by keeping him out of the whole Ala game.  Yet for Fitz, himself,  it would be a longer suspension and demotion than than would a single game (eg for Ala only).  It would also give his replacements longer to challenge his starting status.




August 28th, 2012 at 7:30 PM ^

If he were a music major, would he be suspended from playing in concerts?  If he were an art major, would he not be in the next exhibit?  If he were an english major, no writing for a month?  Face it, these kids major in football, and I personally don't really care what they do outside of that.


August 28th, 2012 at 9:01 PM ^

Good point because if a regular college kid gets busted on a OWVI, he pays his fines, gets his restricted license and goes about his business. It's insanely stupid to drive drunk, but blowing .12 is a lot different than blowing a .21.

The idea that Fitz playing would be morally reprehensible seems to be based on the concept that members of the football team are ambassadors to the entire university (full disclosure: I did not attend) and therefore held to a higher standard than the rest of the student body.

Which means the question becomes: Should they be expected to behave like students or athletes?


August 28th, 2012 at 8:50 PM ^

I am aa little late to the party, but this feels like one of those decisions that gets him on the field.  He'll do the community service, but I'd be shocked if he saw any jail time.  Figure he'll be playing on Saturday.


August 28th, 2012 at 10:49 PM ^

It's up to the Coach if he will play any portions of this game. If it is a blow out by halftime, one way or the other, Hoke will probably keep him out.  Also, you never know what the punishment game is? May be he will sit out in a future game?


August 28th, 2012 at 10:57 PM ^

that is televising the Michigan Alabama game. 

SpartanSam (Speaking in incoherent tones known to every bartender): "How dare Hoke put him in? Dantonio would never do that.”

MichiganMike: “That’s because all his team are repeat offenders.  They’d still be in jail.”

BuckeyeBob (his words slurring together almost incomprehensibly).: “I don’t care whatcha say….He blew a .12….guilty of drunk driving.” 

MichiganMike: “You already said that.”

BuckeyeBob:  Well, I’ll say it again (raising his voice so that it is now almost audible in Columbus): “Guilty Guilty Guilty,”

 MichiganMike: “Thanks for clearing that up.”

Barely able to lift his wobbly head from the bar, SpartanSam  says to Buckeye Bob, .   “Well,  let’s get the hell get out of this goddamn state.  Let’s find a real f-ing sports bar.  A place where there aren’t all these sonovabiches who don’t give a damn about drunk driving.”

BuckeyeBob, ,staggering to keep his balance, replies:….”Okay. .  I’ll drive.”


August 29th, 2012 at 12:33 AM ^

To tardily give my input.  1. I don't care, either way, what happens.  I have no dog in this fight (figuratively speaking) and what Hoke decides, it'll be in a justified manner.  2.  I do think he will play.  Plain and simple.

What ails me is the worriyng over the notion of, "what this will make 'us' look like"; whoever the hell "us" is.  Yes, I know "us" is to mean us and you all, the alums, fans, Universty members, etc..  If Hoke allows Touissaint to play in ths Alabama game, there are many of you worrying how this will make the University look, I guess.  To that I say, Who gives a sh*t?!  You're worried about what other fans will say, what other message board geeks are going to say, what your Ohio and Sparty pals are going to say, etc..  Again, I say, who cares!?  There's this hubris amongst fans these days that we're so protective of "our teams" and we put these "teams", and to some degree the players, on these pedestals and worship them; and when something "bad" happens to them our hubris is outed, to defend and shoot down naysayers.

Has something someone said or has the reputation of a collegiate sporting team you have a rooting interest in, ever affected your life in a real way?  I would guess no for the vast majority of fans; if you answer yes, other issues are at stake.  Seek help.

Let Hoke make the decision.  Cut the "I will be dissapointed if he plays".  The University of Michigan and all of it's members are a classy institution.  This little (not little on a micro level or to be taken lightly, but in the scheme of things involving the University) incident has no bearing on that, AT ALL!  Don't let the jackasses of the world force you or worry you to think otherwise.  It's all talk, sports talk, and most sports talk is a bunch of time-killing; nothing significant nor important in the scheme of things.  If Fitz plays, he'll more than likely have earned it and educated himself on some life lessons while doing so (we can all hope, anyways).