Hoke fails to Deliver on Promise of Player Safety

Something appalling , disturbing and reprehensible happened Saturday at the Big House in Ann Arbor. No I am not talking about the loss the Wolverines suffered to the Minnesota Gophers. You have to give Jerry Kill and staff credit for having their game plan together and the Gopher players executed it, basically handing Michigan a old fashion butt whooping. The situation I am talking about is with Brady Hoke and Shane Morris.

“We’re not going to talk about injuries and I might as well bring that out now. And some of that is because you can say something about something and then you’re wrong. Everybody heals a little differently, and the other thing is for our kids. I want to make sure we’re doing a good job protecting them.”

That quote was from Brady Hoke at his press conference on 9/17/14 via mgoblog.com.

Saturday night versus Minnesota Shane Morris was taking a beating and on one play it appeared he hurt his left leg pretty bad after getting up from avoiding a safety, as the game wore on he continued to get hit and fall awkwardly on that bad leg. You could see Brady on the sideline watching Morris the entire time trying to encourage him. During this stretch something should have clicked in Hoke’s mind that we need to pull this kid before something really serious happens to him right. Nope later in the game Morris takes a shot that was flagged for unnecessary roughness on the passer and when Shane got to his feet and took a few steps he almost fell down and looked woozy. One of his offensive linemen caught him helping prop himself up then Morris decided to kind of shake it off and say no I’m good I’m staying in.

Here is the video of about six minutes of what was going on:

Here is where the very appalling, very disturbing, and very reprehensible actions took place from head coach Brady Hoke and the University of Michigan medical staff. Michigan has touted that they are on the forefront of concussion research and prevention. They have even helped coaches and athletes across the country identify and educate them on concussion symptoms and awareness. When Shane Morris was finally pulled and Devin Gardner was inserted into the game you could see the medical staff start to “work and talk” with Morris on the sideline. Couple of plays into Gardner’s possession after taking over for the injured Morris, Gardner’s helmet came off meaning he had to sit out a play or Michigan burn a time-out.

Michigan easily could have inserted the third string QB for one play just to hand the ball off for a running play or clearly used a time-out. Nope that’s not what happened. Morris went back into the game for that one play. No he didn’t get hurt again on that play but Hoke and the medical staff clearly dropped the ball and should have never let him back into the game period.

Brady, curious as to the decision to leave Shane in after he got hit. Might’ve had a concussion…

“Well, you know, I don’t know. I don’t know if he might’ve had a concussion or not. I don’t know that and that wasn’t something- Shane’s a pretty competitive, tough kid and Shane wanted to be the quarterback and so believe me, if he didn’t want to be he would’ve come to the sideline or stayed down.”

Was it your decision then to leave him in after the late hit foul?

“The late hit foul…yes.”

Brady, just to be clear on when Shane Morris got the hit to the head, did you see him kind of wobbling and fall?

“I did not.”

Okay, because it looked like he was out on his feet. Nobody saw that on the sideline?

“I didn’t see it. I can only answer for me.”

These quotes are from mgoblog.com post game press conference.

How did Hoke not see Morris after that hit stumble and being helped stay on his feet by his offensive lineman? How was Hoke not paying attention to what was going on?
When Morris came to the sideline and the medical staff was evaluating him how do they not go to the coach and say he can’t play we are still evaluating him even if the kid didn’t have a concussion?

Hoke has clearly shown he seems to have no clue as to what he is witnessing right in front of him or he is in denial. This is definitely a case were wearing headphones on the sidelines communicating with other coaches upstairs would have helped.

Today I am not here to bash the Michigan program or make fun of them but what Brady Hoke and the medical staff did Saturday night was beyond the scope of looking out for a players safety and something needs to be done to Hoke. Yes if this were to happen at Ohio State I would be calling out Urban Meyer, Hoke failed his players. Have to wonder if recruits are rethinking their commitment to Michigan when it looks like the head coach doesn’t seem to be looking out for them.


  1. Eric van der Walde says

    I was at that game yesterday(don’t ask). Morris wobbling and having to be held up by his lineman after that hit was shown in replay on both of the Jumbotrons in the stadium right after the play. Everyone in that stadium saw it.

  2. It feels like piling on at this point, but it sure seems like this was some bad juju for Michigan and Hoke. It wasn’t just Hoke that screwed up here. There were more than enough people on that sideline that should have stepped in and intervened.

  3. I think we should be careful… Glass houses and all. A few times over the past few years,, we’ve seen Braxton or Pryor get up woozy after a teeth-jarring hit and have applauded them for “being tough” and hanging in. Or remember how the CFB community practically deified Byron Leftwich for staying in on his game winning drive, even though his linemen had to literally carry him to the line of scrimmage after every play. Maybe we all have some pondering to do…

    IMO, Hoke’s biggest mistake was having a staff that was so clearly untrained for the situation. Any one of his dozens of coaches and trainers could have made the call – any good coach empowers his staff to do so. The fact that it didn’t happen means that Hoke hasn’t empowered his staff with basic decisions like this. Which means either (1) he fails at basic head coaching, or (2) he doesn’t trust them and is one of those types that micromanages everything, even when failing.

    So long, RichRod 2.0.

  4. Braxton Miller played the entire Orange Bowl with a mangled shoulder. A shoulder he hurt before the game even started….and a shoulder that was blasted early in the game. Coaches new his shoulder was torched and still played him.

    Could the same be said about Meyer?

  5. Clearly there were major mistakes made on Michigan’s sidelines and ultimately it falls on Brady Hokes shoulders. There was a similar issue that happened to Colt McCoy when he was playing for the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburg Steele LB James Harrison put a hit on McCoy causing a concussion. The coaches said they were oblivious to what had happened and new guidelines were put into place. University of Michigan claims to be on the forefront of the whole concussion stuff and have helped set up guidelines so how does this happen? I understand a player wanting to play hurt ie Miller in Orange Bowl last year but that was a shoulder and Morris with his leg wasn’t a major issue except you knew your offensive line couldn’t stop anyone and he was getting killed. The concussion is a major thing now in sports and teams are finally taking it seriously. Morris should not have went back in for that one play period. Use your back up or call a time out. Hoke and his whole staff failed but Hoke is the top dog that has responsibility for everything.

  6. I think there is a clear difference from playing hurt and playing injured. I think we agree in general most guys who play football are playing hurt most weeks in some way or fashion. Some even play with serious injuries. The one area of a person where there should be zero tolerance is brain/head injuries. There has been a ton of focus on this issue the last 10 years or so and it should be taken serious no doubt.

    Dont though think for one minute that anyone really cares about Shane Morris injury if he does have a concussion (has it been determined?)

    If Michigan had won it would be a non-issue. They lost and now this is becoming the rallying point for UM fans to call for his dismissal. This is an easy way to dump a coach who is underperforming on the field.

    Coaches play injured players every game it happens. Win and no one cares. Lose and it is a pile on situation.

    • I agree with you Jeremiah. The sad thing is we will probably never know because Hoke never discloses any about injuries. There were reports that Jabril Peppers was sat because of something that was said at practice and later during the weekend it was leaked he was out of practice all week and seen on crutches. With their control of information unfortunately we will probably never know the truth.

    • sportsMonkey says

      Totally agree, SYR. The only reason the situation is so high profile is due to the UM fans having an “excuse” to push out Hoke. In 2007, VG and company gave several concussion-inducing hits to Henne & co, and UM fans lauded Henne for hanging in there even though he didn’t even know who his mama was by the end of the game. The sad reality is, if you’re going to play an injured person, at least be winning.

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