Believe it or not, there’s news happening in the world of college football that doesn’t involve Penn State today.
Unfortunately, it’s more bad news for yet another Big Ten school.
In a statement released Monday afternoon, Michigan head coach Brady Hoke confirmed that running back Fitz Toussaint has been indefinitely suspended after making a “poor decision.” That poor decision apparently stemmed from a drunk-driving charge over the weekend.
“Fitz made a poor decision and has been suspended indefinitely because of that action,” Hoke said in a statement. “There are expectations that come with being a football student-athlete at the University of Michigan and those responsibilities were not met in this instance.
“We will use this as an opportunity to educate Fitz and make sure he understands the high standards that we have established within our program.”
It’s unclear if the suspension will bleed into the season opener against defending national champ Alabama, although that’s a very realistic possibility.
According to SalinePatch.com, Toussaint was arrested late Saturday night in downtown Ann Arbor and charged with operating a vehicle while impaired. The initial stop, part of a joint drunk driving detail, was due to a traffic violation, with a subsequent breathalyzer revealing the back was over the .08 legal limit.
How far over the limit was not divulged.
In starting 11 games last season, Toussaint led all UM running backs in rushing yards (1,041) and rushing touchdowns (nine).
In the midst of reports that he had a physical altercation with one of his Tennessee players during summer camp this year, Butch Jones labeled the speculation “absolutely ridiculous.”
Apparently, his bosses agree with the head coach.
At a board meeting Thursday, UT-Knoxville chancellor Jimmy Cheek stated that he and athletic director Dave Hart had done their “due diligence” in investigating the accusations that Jones and senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder were involved in some type of physical skirmish during practice this past August. The end result of interviews with Jones, coaches and players was the conclusion that there was nothing to the reports and message-board rumors.
“There’s been a lot of rumor and misinformation on social media and message boards about an alleged incident during football practice,” Cheek said according to GoVols247.com‘s Wes Rucker. “It’s not our practice to respond to rumors, but I thought it was important to let you know that we’ve done our due diligence and Dave Hart and I are very confident there was no inappropriate conduct with any players or coaches.”
Shortly after Cheek spoke at the board meeting, Crowder took to Twitter with a series of missives that speaks around the issue.
Michigan played without its leading rusher in Week 5. The Wolverines are hoping there won’t be a repeat in Week 6.
De'Veon Smith sustained a lower-leg injury in the Week 4 win over BYU and didn’t travel with the team for last Saturday’s win over Maryland. Smith has been practicing with his teammates throughout the first few days of this week, and head coach Jim Harbaugh is guardedly optimistic that the running back will be available for what’s turned into a huge Big Ten matchup with Northwestern Saturday in the Big House.
“He’s practicing and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’s going to stay good and be ready to play,” Harbaugh said during a radio appearance Thursday morning. “But we’ll (keep) looking at that every day.”
Despite essentially missing a game and a half, Smith currently leads the Wolverines with 331 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. He’s added four receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown coming out of the backfield the first four games.
Should Smith be unable to go again, the Wolverines have three other backs with at least 100 yards on the ground: Ty Isaac (187, 7.2 yards per carry), Drake Johnson (125, 4.2 ypc) and Derrick Green (100, 3.3 ypc).
In addition to Smith, Harbaugh is hopeful Channing Stribling will be available this weekend as well. The starting cornerback didn’t play against the Cougars because of injury