Michigan head coach Brady Hoke is starting off this week the way last week did, with his hot seat extremely flammable. The tensions and criticisms revolving around Hoke’s job security took on a new level in Saturday’s defeat at home to Minnesota. But the end result of the game was the least of the concerns for those calling for Hoke’s job. Instead, the alleged mismanagement of handling the health of quarterback Shane Morris has been cause for criticism.
As a refresher, Hoke named Morris his team’s starting quarterback for the Minnesota game. It did go well. Early in the fourth quarter Morris was on the receiving end of a roughing the passer hit from defensive end Theiren Cockran. You could make an argument Cockran should have been ejected for targeting, but he remained in the game. Regardless, Morris got up noticeably wobbly and shaken. Morris looked to wave off the need to be replaced and stayed in for another play, resulting in an incomplete pass. It was at this point Morris finally came off the field and Devin Gardner took over. Gardner had to come out of the game for one play soon after that, because his helmet came off during the play. And this is where Hoke really came under fire.
Rather than burn a timeout or sending third string quarterback Russell Bellomy, who was seen getting his helmet on and heading to the field, Hoke instead sent in Morris. It seemed awful quick to be sending in a player who showed visible signs of being rocked by a defender, especially in today’s day where there are so many ways to test and diagnose concussion symptoms. Hoke’s reasoning for sending Morris back in was very questionable.
He didn’t know if Morris had a concussion or not.
“Well, I don’t know if he might have had a concussion or not,” Hoke said when asked about the decision to put Morris back in the game.” I don’t know that. Shane’s a pretty competitive tough kid. Shane wanted to be the quarterback. So believe me, if he didn’t want to be, he would have come to the sideline or stayed down.”
It sounds like Hoke is letting the inmates run the asylum. Hoke is paid to run the football program, not his quarterback. It is Hoke’s responsibility to ensure his players are safe and cared for. By sending Morris back out under that situation is nothing short of irresponsible. Should Hoke be fired for that decision? Some are making that case, but ultimately athletics director Dave Brandon needs to address this head-on, and not by turning it into some sort of public relations spin opportunity. It is beyond that time for Michigan.
That kind of logic from Hoke may have been accepted 10 or 20 years ago, but the culture has changed with regard to attention to head trauma. Hoke needs to admit he was wrong to use Morris in that situation. Anything else should be unacceptable.