On Sunday morning, I published a column, entitled "The Fireable Offense of Brady Hoke," that called for Hoke to be fired immediately after he was grossly negligent in his handling of Shane Morris against Minnesota. The column outlines second by second exactly how Hoke and his staff inexplicably allowed Morris to take two snaps even though he was clearly demonstrating concussion-like symptoms the instant after being viciously drilled in the head by Minnesota defensive end Theiren Cockran, including one snap where Morris was reinserted into the game. I strongly encourage you to read the column if you have not done so already, or watch the sequence of events at a minimum, before proceeding.
In the 48-plus hours since I published that column, there have been many new developments as the media and fans pressured Michigan, athletic director Dave Brandon, Hoke, and the medical and training staff to answer why Morris was not removed from the field of play immediately after he appeared to be concussed.
There was Hoke's press release on Sunday night, which focused solely on Morris' high ankle sprain, completely ignored the idea that Morris had suffered any sort of head trauma, and stated that he was "confident proper medical decisions were made."
There was Hoke's press conference on Monday afternoon, during which Hoke denied that Morris had a concussion, claimed that Morris would have practiced on Sunday night if not for his high ankle sprain, vehemently stressed that he would never keep a player in the game he thought had a concussion, "assumed" that correct concussion protocols were followed on the sideline, and referred to a medical statement he said would be released later as if it would corroborate his story.
In lieu of a medical statement, Brandon released his own statement in the wee hours on Tuesday, which contradicted much of what Hoke said during his presser 12 hours earlier, revealed that Morris was diagnosed with a "concussion" on Sunday, admitted that "there was a serious lack of communication that led to confusion on the sideline," listed two procedural changes that will be implemented to prevent such an event from reoccurring, and apologized. Of course, our John Williams has already detailed everything that was wrong with Brandon's press release.
Then, on Tuesday afternoon, Hoke spoke briefly on the weekly Big Ten teleconference, during which he said he had nothing to add to Brandon's statement and it would "speak for itself," you know, the same statement that contradicted almost everything Hoke had said on Sunday and Monday. Hoke added that he and Brandon are working towards the same goals and supportive of each other, of which I am not so sure.
With this new information, I felt it was necessary for me to follow up my Sunday column and provide my additional thoughts on this utter Michigan debacle:
1. Shane Morris' Diagnosis Is Not the Pertinent Issue
Before Brandon released his statement on Tuesday morning that informed the public that Morris had indeed been diagnosed with a concussion, a few people asked me how I could write my column calling for Hoke to be fired without knowing for certain that Morris had a concussion, with one person even insisting that I must apologize for what I wrote if it was announced that Morris did not have a concussion.
My response: why does that matter?
The pertinent issue here is not Morris' diagnosis but that Hoke and his staff failed to pull him off the field immediately after he displayed concussion-like symptoms. And it was quite clear there were concussion-like symptoms. After taking a violent hit to his head, Morris walked around dazed and confused for a few seconds before he wobbled and almost crumpled to the ground. If you do not believe those are concussion-like symptoms, then I do not know what to tell you.
It was at this moment that either Hoke, offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, any of the other coaches, or a member of the medical and training staff needed to remove Morris from the game. Why? Not because Morris had a concussion, but because he may have had a concussion. That is a key difference. The point of concussion testing and protocol is to remove a possibly concussed player promptly to then determine if the player does indeed have one. If he has one, then he must be kept out of the game and taken back to the locker room for further tests. If he does not have one, then he can be cleared to return. Either way, a player with a possible concussion should not be allowed to play an additional snap and risk further serious injury until a diagnosis is made.
But no one pulled Morris out immediately. Brandon claims that no one the sidelines saw the hit Morris took to his head, which I seriously doubt for various reasons, and that only the team neurologist recognized Morris' wobble as a concussion-like symptom rather than a result of his high ankle sprain. However, because the neurologist was so far down the sidelines away from the play, he was not able to evaluate Morris for a concussion before he was allowed to take two additional snaps, including the one where he was reinserted into the game after Devin Gardner lost his helmet mid-play. This is appalling and grossly negligent on so many levels because, whether or not Morris did have a concussion, he was allowed to play when it was evident he may have had one.
Of course, that Morris was diagnosed with a concussion, which means he was allowed to play with one, will be the "smoking gun." This will be what the rest of the national media latches onto as they continue to report this story, which is why I want to reiterate that Hoke and his staff were in the wrong whether or not Morris had a concussion.
And, to be clear, I wish that Morris had not been diagnosed with a concussion. I never would want anyone, especially a 20-year-old, to have to endure any sort of head trauma and the health consequences associated with it. I wish him a speedy recovery and hope he will cleared to play football, which is all he wants to do, soon.
2. The "Attacks" on Brady Hoke's Integrity
Whenever an event with this much national attention occurs, there generally is always a strong reaction, which then leads to the reaction to the reaction. After Hoke and his staff demonstrated gross negligence in allowing Morris to take two snaps when he seemed to be concussed, I at Maize n Brew, Brian Cook and Ace Anbender at MGoBlog, and the football beat at the Michigan Daily called for Hoke to be fired for his incompetence immediately. Others began to take this stance, including numerous fans and those that have no affinity for college football.
Of course, because there always must be a reaction to a reaction, Sports Illustrated's Michael Rosenberg published this column on Monday evening, which claims that people are attacking Hoke's integrity and character and argues that those traits should not be "indicted" because he made a mistake and there is no notion that he and his medical staff have created an entire culture of silence regarding concussions. And there have been others that have taken similar positions, stating that it was not as if Hoke knew Morris had a concussion and still chose to reinsert him in the game.
To Rosenberg and those Hoke apologists, I ask where you saw Cook, Anbender, the Michigan Daily football beat, or myself conclude that Hoke demonstrated malice and knowingly disregarded Morris' health concerns by allowing him to continue to play.
I will wait...
Those people cannot find anything because none of us wrote such a thing. None of us actually think that Hoke does not care for his players or would purposely put them in a situation that could risk them to serious further injury. But we all think he is completely clueless and sufficiently incompetent to allow such a scenario to arise, as it did on Saturday. And this is not Hoke's first display of incompetence on the sidelines. Far from it. But it is the first time his incompetence has put one of his players in serious jeopardy.
I do not know about you, but I think that is pretty indictable.
3. The Delayed Release of the "Medical Statement"
As written above, Hoke held a press conference on Monday afternoon, during which he denied that Morris had a concussion and referred to a medical statement that would be released later. For this section, I am not so much going to focus on the substance of the "medical statement" as much as I am on the timing of its release, which was more than 12 hours after Hoke's presser and almost an hour after midnight.
But, before I dive into the timing of the release of this "medical statement," which was rather a first-person narrative by Brandon, who is not a doctor, it is important to note that Brandon's statement revealed that Morris had been diagnosed with a "probable, mild concussion" on Sunday. Sunday.
So here are my questions: why would Brandon wait until 12:50 a.m. ET on Tuesday morning to release this information to the public? Why not release this statement on Sunday night rather than the one Hoke released that completely ignored the idea that Morris had suffered any sort of head trauma? Or why not release this information to the media on Monday afternoon when, at his presser, Hoke denied Morris had a concussion? Why withhold Morris' diagnosis for about 36 hours or so after it was made? Why not get in front of the situation and be up front with the public that a mistake was made?
I believe I know the answers to those questions, especially when I see the words "probable" and "mild" preceding the word "concussion" in Brandon's statement, which is complete bullshit. It looks like a poor attempt to mitigate that Morris did suffer a concussion. And, because of this, I think I know why it took Brandon so long to come forth with this information. However, because I do not have concrete evidence to make such an allegation, it is probably for the best that I do not state it explicitly.
But you should be able to figure it out for yourself.
4. Dave Brandon Fed Brady Hoke to the Wolves to Save Himself...
When Brandon released his "medical statement" on Tuesday morning, it contradicted almost everything Hoke had said on Sunday and Monday. Brandon knew on Sunday that Morris had been diagnosed with a concussion and stated in his press release that he "met with those who were directly involved and who were responsible for managing [Morris'] care and determining his medical fitness for participation." Does that not include Hoke? Because why would Hoke then release a statement on Sunday that never acknowledges that Morris may have a concussion and then deny Morris had a concussion on Monday?
Why? Brandon did not inform Hoke of the update to Morris' health status because he is sacrificing Hoke to save his own job. After the Wolverines' 2-3 start this season and now the Morris incident, Hoke is done as Michigan's football coach. It is no longer a matter of "if." It is a matter of "when." And Brandon, who is feeling the heat as Michigan students and alumni call for his resignation or termination, realized that his own neck is on the line, so he fed Hoke to the wolves by not informing Hoke about Morris' concussion diagnosis before Monday's press conference. This made Hoke to look like a flat-out liar, while Brandon tried to appear concerned and apologetic 12 hours later with the hope that the media and the fans would then assign all of the fault on Hoke.
5. ...Which Is Another Reason Why Dave Brandon Must Be Fired
This is yet another reason why Brandon must no longer be Michigan's athletic director. You already know all of the other miscues that have happened under his watch, many of which, but not all, are included in this column at Land-Grant Holy Land, SB Nation's Ohio State blog. Yes, Matt Brown, an Ohio State blogger, wrote a column about why Brandon, Michigan's athletic director, should be fired. Think about that.
And now Brandon just completely threw Hoke under the bus to save his own skin. So, when Hoke is eventually let go and Michigan has a vacancy for the position of football head coach, who in his right mind would want to take that post and work under Brandon after how he just treated his subordinate? None.
Under Brandon's watch, the Michigan football program has transformed into a complete clown show that has allowed something that was once prestigious become a black eye for the university. This has become a debacle for Michigan. They have embarrassed themselves time and time again and could not have screwed up this situation much worse. If Michigan wants to fully move past this, it needs to fire both Brandon and Hoke -- Brandon first. Then, with a new athletic director in place and an atmosphere that hopefully is no longer devastatingly toxic, Michigan can attempt to hire a great football coach and begin the rehabilitation process once and for all.