Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Some Notes on Concussions


AS A COACH
To offer some perspective, I hope it might be helpful to relay the concussion protocol in my school district. Coaches are required by the state to take concussion awareness training prior to each and every season. The training includes medical explanations, symptoms to look for, actions to take, and protocol for allowing players to return. I am not qualified to diagnose a concussion, but sometimes it's obvious. However, a large part of the obviousness is in that I know my players' mannerisms, how they react to hard hits, where they look when returning to the huddle, how they walk, how quickly they move, etc. That is one advantage that I have when watching my own players. Any player who shows concussion-like symptoms is automatically sent to an athletic trainer for an evaluation. He is not allowed to return to practice unless the trainer determines that he does NOT have a concussion. The initial test - which I have been present for numerous times - typically includes questions about symptoms, some long-term questions (Who's the president? When's your birthday? What's the date today?), some short-term questions (repeat this sequence of numbers or items to me), and an examination of eye dilation/focus (How many fingers am I holding up? Can you follow my fingertip with your eyes?).

AS A FAN OF MICHIGAN
I watched the game on television, and the fact that Shane Morris was still in the game at the beginning of the fourth quarter was extremely frustrating. Not only was he ineffective, but in the middle of being ineffective, he sprained his ankle. And not only did he sprain the ankle in the middle of being ineffective, but Michigan also had a better option waiting on the sideline the whole time in the form of Devin Gardner. When Morris originally took the hit from Minnesota defensive end Theiren Cockran, I said, "And now our quarterback just got killed." Upon a closeup review of the play, however, I noticed a couple things. First of all, the initial force of Cockran's helmet hit the bottom bar of Morris's facemask, which snapped his neck back. Secondly, the majority of the blow seemed to be taken by Morris's upper left chest area. Is it possible that a concussion occurred from the blow to the helmet? Yes. Is it also possible that a concussion could occur from a hit to the chest/shoulder? Absolutely. Not all concussions require a hit to the head. Knowing that Morris had a bum ankle, his stumble into Ben Braden did not necessarily indicate to me that he had a concussion. Furthermore, the deep breath of air taken and released by Morris on camera did not seem consistent with concussions I have seen. I have seen concussions that ended high school seasons and careers, and breathing deeply is not something I associate with the injury. That looked more to me like a guy who may have had the wind knocked out of him and was trying to gather his breathing back together. When Morris finally retreated to the sideline, his behavior while sitting on the bench and being examined also did not indicate to me that he had a concussion. Again, people react differently, and I am unqualified to play doctor from my living room, but I'm just comparing it to what I have seen in my daily life.

AS SOMEONE WHO HAS RESPECT FOR BRADY HOKE
I believe much of the heat he has taken has been unwarranted. First, we have seen his staff remove players for various injuries in the past, such as Taylor Lewan last season. Numerous players have missed time due to injuries of all kinds, and I have never seen or heard him challenge players to man up or play through injury. Just this season, players like Devin Funchess, Jarrod Wilson, Jabrill Peppers, and Raymon Taylor have missed significant time with injuries. Despite a strong need for Jake Ryan and Jake Butt, the Michigan staff has held to their plan of working them slowly back into games by using a predetermined number of snaps. Second, what would Hoke gain by keeping Morris in the game despite injury? Morris is not the best quarterback on the roster, and he had been playing terribly. Literally every other player listed above is/was more valuable to this team than Shane Morris is this season, so it's nonsensical to believe that Hoke would put Morris in serious harm's way while being cautious with Peppers, Butt, Ryan, etc. Third, this overwhelming vitriol directed toward Hoke does not support what we have seen on a regular basis from him. While many have questioned his ability to coach the sport of football, it has been widely acknowledged that he's a man of high character who cares about his players. What sense would there be in risking his players and his reputation in order to keep his backup quarterback in the football game at that point? Fourth, this whole discussion would not have reached such huge proportions if not for Michigan's current record. If Michigan were 5-0 or 4-1, Michigan fans would have let this incident slide already. It would have been a footnote or a follow-up question at a press conference or maybe an issue that would die soon. In its current state of disarray (a 2-3 record, a paltry offensive output, a quarterback controversy, dwindling attendance, etc.), the Michigan program has invited widespread criticism. But with issues like this, I think it's important to think about "What would this look like if Michigan were winning?" and then calibrate accordingly.

TO THOSE WHO SAY "IT DOESN'T MATTER WHETHER MORRIS HAD A CONCUSSION OR NOT"
I say that's hogwash. It absolutely does matter. As I mentioned above, coaches know their players. Just like you know your coworkers and your mom and your son and your wife, coaches spend hours upon hours with their players in very difficult situations. I could tell by the way my dad walked in the door whether he had a good day or not. I can tell by watching my players if they have a slight hamstring pull. When they walk in the locker room, I can sometimes tell which player it is just by the sound of their footsteps. There were numerous players and coaches watching the game, and whether the two main guys (Hoke and Doug Nussmeier) saw his behavior or not, some people thought Morris was okay to continue. When Morris came to the sideline for a short stretch, he was still deemed ready to return for an "emergency" play when Gardner had to be removed. Fans and people watching on television thought he was concussed, but the people who know him best - the people on the sideline - thought Morris was okay to go. If the as yet unreleased medical results show that Morris was indeed lacking a concussion, then there are some people who owe Hoke an apology. According to Monday's press conference, Morris would have practiced on Sunday if not for the ankle injury. That indicates that his head is not a hindrance to him playing at this time.
UPDATE: Dave Brandon released a statement revealing that Morris was evaluated during and immediately after the game, and no concussion was detected. A third test has determined that he indeed has a mild concussion. So it took three tests for medical professionals to determine that he had a concussion.

THE TAKEAWAY
At this point there are too many people shooting first and asking questions later. People are smearing Hoke's reputation and/or pleading for his firing when there's at least a decent chance that what he did was completely fine. However, I do believe Michigan has mishandled the press up to this point. Athletic director Dave Brandon has failed to step forward with any authoritative take on the situation, and Hoke himself has been evasive. The easiest way to handle this would have been to release a statement saying "Shane Morris does not have a concussion." Whether Michigan is trying to stick to its own policy about discussing injuries, trying not to violate HIPAA laws, or simply misjudging the public response, they are losing in the court of public opinion. The University of Michigan's response has been subpar. As for Hoke himself, perhaps he should be fired. Michigan's win total has been declining from 2011-2013, and it does not appear they will improve on their 7-6 record from last year. The offense is inadequate. Special teams and overall player development have been questionable. If you want to say that a 9-9 record over the last 18 games is unacceptable, that's someone's prerogative. I can't make a good case for Hoke remaining at this point, even though I'm not exactly in favor of firing him right this moment. But I also believe the Shane Morris incident should not be the deciding factor, especially if Morris is not concussed.

78 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. I just got another call from my buddy with the incredibly beautiful, intelligent and chaste daughter down at Clemson.

      So let me be clear.

      While I do think the kid got it on the chin along with the chest, I think his problem was breathing more than concussion symptoms. I also think he shouldn't have gone back into the game, but I don't think he should have been in the game int he first place.

      The whole thing smacks of a desperate coach doing dumbass stuff because he is drowning.

      I'm holding on to Hoke until we start losing recruits as I don't see a viable replacement. I do think Hoke is doomed as it's only a matter of minutes until kids start running for the exits.

      I also think that the next guy will benefit mightily from the job Hoke has done here restocking talent. Although the way this program has poisoned itself recently makes it extremely unlikely that this hire will go any better than the last two.

      I finally think that this is just a wonderful lesson for all the "Michigan Men' who deliberately poisoned RR's tenure here out of pure malice. Yeah, I'm talking to you Freep asshats, Braylen, Brandon, etc. I'll also add that the only guy out of that entire gaggle to possess an ounce of class is Ricky Leach who remains a better Right Fielder that he ever was a Quarterback.

      Fire Brandon.

      Delete
  2. per David Brandon:
    http://www.mgoblue.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/093014aaa.html

    ReplyDelete
  3. I totally disagree about whether or not he had a concussion matters. He wasn't even evaluated is the problem; you can't begin to have the "did he have a concussion or not" debate without the evaluation taking place. Between his behavior and the hit, there was a possibility that he was concussed, yet the trainers didn't evaluate him for one before sending him back out. Now UM releases a statement saying that post-game evaluations determined he probably did have a concussion. I think this all illustrates what a shit show the sidelines have become - I don't think Hoke made any decisions with malice or a cynical need to win so much as he was make decisions out of ignorance and general staff incompetence.

    I agree, though, that I think part of this has gotten so vitriolic because people are looking for reasons to get Hoke out as soon as possible. I think he'd still catch a lot of flack for it even if things were going better (the situation played out very similarly to the controversy after Colt McCoy got blind sided by James Harrison), but the calls for immediate resignations are definitely fueled more by poor team performances. I'm not sure what UM has to gain by ousting Hoke now as opposed to at the end of the season, but I think people are just sick of Hoke and his coaching at this point.

    ReplyDelete
  4. As your update shows, there was a reason Michigan couldn't just come out and say Morris did not have a concussion. Is it fair to lay that on Hoke? I don't know, but the sequence of events that led to Morris going back in was a fiasco. Putting an obviously injured player on the field because nobody else is ready is terrible coaching, even without a suspicion of concussions. Under these particular circumstances it's hard to forgive. It's possible this incident will have some effect beyond Michigan. If it turns out that sideline tests missed a concussion, then something needs to change,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Speaking of terrible coaching, I think it's important to remember that Hoke had two timeouts. Bellomy isn't ready, and Hoke chose not to take a timeout there to get Gardner back in.

      Delete
  5. Kudos to you Thunder/Magnus for taking the side of sanity. I can't believe the way people are reacting to this over at MGoBlog. Well, actually, I can believe it because the Hive leader (Brian Cook) has made his position clear and the masses must follow.

    I firmly believe that this "righteous indignation" is a product of the sh*tty record and lousy on-field performance. If UM were 4-1 right now this would have been a non-issue with most fans. Most UM fans simply want Hoke gone NOW because the team stinks but they are deluding themselves into thinking that they are just "thinking about the children".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the MGoBlog outrage is over blown, and I don't think Hoke will get canned immediately (as I said above, I think Hoke is more incompetent and ignorant than cynical or malicious). But the calls for his head are coming from places outside that particular group think tank. Maize'N'Brew posted an official stance that he should be fired. It's been making the rounds on the national news circuit (and not just ESPN drumming up drama, but news outlets that usually don't care about football are covering Morris's return to the game). To dismiss the outrage as all a factor of Brian is to ignore a whole lot of other very loud voices.

      And whether or not this would be an issue if Michigan's record is better? Putting injured, possibly concussed players back into harms way should be an issue, regardless of record. I think he would have caught plenty of flack for it (and deservedly so), even if Michigan were 5-0 or 4-1, probably just not as vicious and without the calls for immediate firing.

      Delete
    2. It would certainly be an issue if Michigan were 5-0 or 4-1, but it wouldn't be this big of a deal. The program's current status combined with Saturday's incident have combined for the uproar. The question wouldn't be "Should Hoke be fired?" The question would be "How can teams prevent this confusion from happening again?"

      Delete
    3. Wait until the end of the season when we're 2 - 9 and there are more empty seats than attendees... you haven't heard anything yet!

      Delete
    4. FWIW, if Michigan were 5-0 or 4-1, it's unlikely that Shane Morris would have been on the field.

      Delete
    5. ""How can teams prevent this confusion from happening again?""

      With a coach that knows what he is doing. -- That's kind of the point.

      Delete
  6. As someone who makes a living taking care of trauma patients I have to say that this is why it is so important that it is out of the coaches hands. I don't fault you for not having medical knowledge but that's why we need trainers and physicians on the sidelines.

    From the initial hit alone and knowing what I do about the kinematics of traumatic head injuries I was immediately screaming at the TV that he had a concussion. Watch it in slo-mo. You can see his head immediately snap back as the crown of the helmet hits his chin/bottom helmet bar. That's brain insult #1 (and possible C-spine or vertebral artery injury) his head then comes back forward bit, and as he slams to the ground his helmet appears to bounce of the turf. That's impact #2. Minimally he had a coup contrecoup type injury.

    His immediate reaction was to GRAB HIS HEAD. Yes, he took a deep breath but abnormal breathing is not uncommon in head injury patients. His staggering gait is again immediately indicative of a possible brain injury and him stumbling is again indicative of brain injury. Look at how he shakes his head like he's trying to clear his head. Again brain injury. Look at the photos of him immediately afterwards his eyes are glazed over. Brain injury.

    The fact that seemingly no one on the UofM sideline noticed this is why I'm so pissed off. Sure I'm upset at the poor play on field as a fan but the utter incompetence with how a kids brain has been handled is what has me burning up inside as a health care provider.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm greatly thankful to you for specifically identifying what it was that indicated brain injury, from a professional perspective.

      Watching this, what is your opinion on Hoke? Is he responsible because medical staff seemed not to see/not to communicate that Morris needed to be evaluated for a concussion? Certainly then in a "He's the captain of the ship" sense, but is there also a more specific blame to be placed on the medical staff for not immediately intervening?

      Thinking to the way that I work--and I'm not in a medical profession--when I witness something that indicates that I need to play it safe, I'm gonna go ranting and raving, go crazy if necessary, to make sure that everyone in charge knows what we have to do, because better safe than sorry, and because that is my job. I've been in subordinate positions responsible for the welfare of other people before, and this is what I've done if anything goes awry. I imagine that as a medical professional, your level of awareness of this is heightened. Hoke can be faulted, perhaps, for being unaware, but is there also fault for not making Hoke aware?

      Curious to hear your thoughts--yours is the kind of analysis is the kind that I've been begging all the armchair doctors at MGoBlog for since this has gone viral.

      Delete
    2. So I'll get it out of the way that I'd like to see Hoke removed but before this weekend it was because of the apparent regression of the team, the losing etc.

      After this I'm still of that opinion. He needs to also be let go for this fiasco as well. I see it as fuel on the fire essentially. I look at it from any other business perspective, you are the head of the ship, if your team(and by team I mean other staff) aren't getting it done you're ultimately responsible. There was a clear communication issue, but Brandon's statement only further muddies the water about it. So perhaps there is some hierarchy issues going on here that damage communication. If that is the case then he definitely bears some blame, especially if he is the one creating the hierarchy.

      Yes there is fault for making Hoke not aware, but again if he wasn't made aware because people were following some hierarchy he created then that is on him. Problem is we don't know enough facts and the Brandon release was clearly trying to keep the waters muddy.

      I would post on Mgoblog but I dont have enough points to post unfortunately.

      Really this speaks more to systemic problems within the program in my mind. Concussions are a huge issue in the NFL, it really is hard for me to believe that a major college football team is so tone deaf to that and doesnt have a better defined process in place to handle a situation like this.

      Pardon any typos I'm at a conference on trauma. Ironically one of our afternoon presenters is doing a presentation on more rapid identification of concussions.

      Delete
    3. Great perspective. Thanks for posting.

      Delete
  7. What will be said when Cockran receives a 1 game suspension for the hit this week? I am only surprised Morris got up from that head shot.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Well I thought the concussion might have come from when the back of his head slammed into the ground after the hit. So just because it didn't happen on the hit itself doesn't mean it didn't happen at all... at this point we'll never know.

    I think the main issue is that it doesn't looks like the concussion protocol was used at all. My wife who is an MD (though not a Neurologist) and who watched the whole sequence looked at me and said "they're not going to do the concussion protocol on him??" Then he went back in the game after Gardner lost his helmet she again looked at me and said "what the hell are they doing?"

    This is where the anger stems from in this situation. The whole does he have a concussion or not doesn't matter opinion is valid because there's no way they could have known he didn't without doing the protocol. So for all intents and purposes Brady Hoke was willing to send someone back out in the game with a concussion because he couldn't have known otherwise... which is where the disgust comes from I think.

    ReplyDelete
  9. As someone who makes a living taking care of trauma patients I have to say that this is why it is so important that it is out of the coaches hands. I don't fault you for not having medical knowledge but that's why we need trainers and physicians on the sidelines.

    From the initial hit alone and knowing what I do about the kinematics of traumatic head injuries I was immediately screaming at the TV that he had a concussion. Watch it in slo-mo. You can see his head immediately snap back as the crown of the helmet hits his chin/bottom helmet bar. That's brain insult #1 (and possible C-spine or vertebral artery injury) his head then comes back forward bit, and as he slams to the ground his helmet appears to bounce of the turf. That's impact #2. Minimally he had a coup contrecoup type injury.

    His immediate reaction was to GRAB HIS HEAD. Yes, he took a deep breath but abnormal breathing is not uncommon in head injury patients. His staggering gait is again immediately indicative of a possible brain injury and him stumbling is again indicative of brain injury. Look at how he shakes his head like he's trying to clear his head. Again brain injury. Look at the photos of him immediately afterwards his eyes are glazed over. Brain injury.

    The fact that seemingly no one on the UofM sideline noticed this is why I'm so pissed off. Sure I'm upset at the poor play on field as a fan but the utter incompetence with how a kids brain has been handled is what has me burning up inside as a health care provider.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I made a comment above on your anonymous post; I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

      Delete
  10. An adult voice of reason in the howling storm of childish outrage. Thank you.

    The reactions elsewhere are driven by an attempt to demonstrate greater righteous outrage than the previous poster. Today's politically correct culture forms the basis; the Internet provides the megaphone and the feedback loop.

    Over on Maize-n-Brew one commenter called for the immediate suspension of Hoke. He made a mocking reference to "due process" then called for Hoke's firing after the preordained verdict was delivered. That's not just foolish, from a football perspective that's dangerous. The trampling of due process in pursuit of feel-good judgment is already taking root on campuses and elsewhere. It will spell the very death of Michigan football if it creeps in there as well.

    My list of sports "favorites" in my browser has been reduced in the wake of all this faux outrage by some sites. Thankfully Touch the Banner remains a site where reasoned commentary and civil exchanges still prevail.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don, shut up. This is perhaps the least reasonable post I've ever read from Magnus. This isn't the "adult voice of reason." This is "cover my ass because I left it hanging in the breeze."

      Magnus is WRONG about the evaluations. They looked at his ankle during the game. They did not administer the concussion protocol. That's what people are pissed about. All the trolls who love being contrarian for its own sake should probably take five.

      Delete
    2. So much for civil exchanges.

      Delete
    3. Man Don. I think what you're talking about is definitely true and definitely happening but that doesn't mean the issue is irrelevant. It's like arguing _insert your favorite band___ is awesome because youtube commentators make dumb critiques, or -__ insert band you hate___ is bad because the youtube commentators like them. It's beside the point.

      Michigan IS at risk of losing it all in football. That's not fans fault nearly as much as it's Dave Brandon's.

      Delete
  11. Eh, I don't know, Magnus. I don't think you're acquitting yourself very well here. It's one thing to argue that Hoke's character shouldn't be assassinated over this, I and agree with that argument. It's another to argue that this situation was handled properly by the staff. It sounds like you're claiming that coaches are in the best position to determine if a concussion test should be administered because "they know their players." You admit, however, that "just knowing your players" is not part of the official concussion awareness training that you receive. According to the medical community, this is a hogwash means of assessing your players health.

    Bottom line is if you get your clock cleaned like Morris did on this play--getting your head smashed on impact and smashed again by landing directly on it--you take the kid out and give him a full assessment. Arguing otherwise doesn't make you sound very good as a coach.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, I'm not saying that a concussion test shouldn't have been administered because of that. What I am saying is that it's a reasonable conclusion to think that Morris was okay to continue. The story is that a couple important people did not see the hit, which is understandable because the ball was thrown far downfield. It's only natural to follow the football with your eyes, and you don't always see late hits on the quarterback. If you then turn to see your quarterback limping and wave off the sideline, it's reasonable to think that his leg injury is the issue.

      I can tell you that I have missed late hits on our quarterbacks, only to later see a vicious hit on film. It happens. You can't always catch everything. We've had kids get concussions in the middle of the second quarter but they stayed out on the field, so we didn't find out about it until halftime. Part of the issue, too, is educating players and telling them that it's partly their responsibility to remove themselves from the game if they feel woozy, concussed, etc. I'm not blaming Morris entirely, but he probably should have stayed on the ground, walked off the field, waved for a replacement, etc. I have had concussed players take themselves out of games immediately, so it's possible.

      Maybe you SHOULD be removed by the coaches if you get your clock cleaned. But what happens if the people who are supposed to remove you are distracted by the ball being thrown 20 yards downfield? What if they're turned away talking to a coach or player? There's something to be said for human error. We give baseball umpires, football referees, etc. the benefit of the doubt for having to see everything, but sometimes they don't see the strike zone correctly or they miss a holding call. I would say this is somewhat like missing a holding call, although obviously it has much larger implications.

      Delete
    2. Magnus, you don't have two giant screens throwing up replays. Cockran was flagged for roughing the passer and then the replay was shown. The ENTIRE CROWD knew Morris took a hit. Are you telling me NO ONE ON STAFF paid attention? Because I don't believe that for a second.

      Delete
    3. Fine. Don't believe it.

      So I ask you this: what's your rationale for what happened? Do you think Brady Hoke and Co. saw all of what was going on, and yet nobody suggested that he should be removed from the game? So we just have an entire staff of coaches who don't care about Shane Morris's health?

      Delete
    4. I can maybe buy that. And I wish that was the explanation that Hoke would've given right away on the postgame presser. Admit you missed something and made a mistake. All of the avoidance and denial is making this so much worse.

      Delete
    5. " it's a reasonable conclusion to think that Morris was okay to continue"

      No, it wasn't. If he was wobbling that hard after a dirty hit you have to take him out. You can think it's a leg injury, but you don't know. You have to find out.

      It was not OK.

      It was a mistake. It was a defensible mistake maybe, but it was a significant one that they should have immediately owned and apologized for.

      Delete
    6. I think there are several answers to that.

      1. They look to the head coach to make the decision. Hoke doesn't wear a headset so he can focus on his players.

      2. They look for medical staff to make the decision. Part of Hoke's job is to make sure there is a process for this.

      3. They look for the player to make the decision. This is wrong.

      4. The rest of the staff cares, but not enough. Not enough to overcome the culture of "be tough" "play through it" "be a gamer". Culture is the coaches job.

      Delete
  12. However, he DID have a concussion as stated by David Brandon in his 1am statement.

    ReplyDelete
  13. "UPDATE: Dave Brandon released a statement revealing that Morris was evaluated during and immediately after the game, and no concussion was detected. A third test has determined that he indeed has a mild concussion. So it took three tests for medical professionals to determine that he had a concussion."

    This is not true. The release makes clear that Shane was not evaluated "for a concussion" during the game -- only his ankle was looked at.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Magnus, the Brandon statement explicitly says he was not given a neuro evaluation during the game, just an exam of his ankle. That's why some people are pissed. Just because it's was "not at all clear" that he was concussed, which he was, does not mean, had a proper evaluation been given he would have been cleared to return.

    It's kind of strange that you say that evidence that Morris didn't have a concussion would absolve Hoke, but when faced with the actual evidence that Morris did have a concussion you do not alter your conclusions in the slightest. You can say whatever you want about knowing your players, but Morris looked concussed, was concussed, and wasn't properly examined before he saw the field. That's bad. It's not malicious, in my opinion, but it's clearly a result of a hallmark of Hoke's tenure: a disorganized as fuck side-line, whether that is with player substitutions, getting the right number of people out on the punt team, or getting your goddamn back-up QB a helmet.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Beyond the concussion stuff...the fact you are not convinced Hoke should be fired for FOOTBALL reasons is ridiculous. What else do you need to see? What case can you make to support him? I think Cook has gone overboard with this...but I can't respect the opinion of a man who has watched what has transpired ON THE FIELD the last 3 seasons and concludes that Brady Hoke deserves to remain coach. Is it RR's fault? What excuses can be made. You call the offense "inadequate" and the special teams and player development "questionable". Very kind of you. So you're a Hoke fan who wants Hoke to succeed...nothing wrong with that. Don't call out other people or blogs for biased opinions when you aren't the paragon of objectivity yourself though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't make a case to support him, other than saying that he has/had good recruiting classes which are in the process of matriculating through the program.

      What I can say is that I don't see how firing Hoke right this minute is a good idea. It leaves Michigan without a coach (a grad assistant would probably be hired as a position coach), nobody else is a clear candidate, and the likely choice to replace him would be Nussmeier, whose offense is highly in question.

      I think Hoke deserves to have the rest of the season. If he reels off six or seven wins to end the season (unlikely, I know), then he shouldn't be fired. If the season keeps going in the current direction, then obviously he needs to go.

      Delete
  16. First time I've ever commented on any of your articles and I'd also like to note I prefer TTB over other blogs. I'm a very avid follower of Michigan Athletics and read many blogs...thank god this blog has some logical things to say about this situation.

    This has gotten so blown out of proportion it isn't funny. If Gardner would have started the damn game we wouldn't even be having this conversation. I think it's safe to say that Hoke's/Brandon's ship has run its course but the real question in my mind is who are we going to find to replace them. By the sounds of it Harbaughs are out of the mix and don't believe that Les will come to Michigan.

    Lastly, when the hell are we going to see more of Peppers? Jesus he could play any position he was asked too with flying colors and we haven't seen him on offense which really surprises me. The kid is way too athletic to be sitting the bench. I hope he isn't prone to injuries because I'm going to have some serious crow to eat...As always Go Blue

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As far as I know, Peppers has not had injury problems in high school. That's why it was frustrating to see him get hurt in the first half of his first college game.

      Delete
  17. I call BS on this quote: "Dave Brandon released a statement revealing that Morris was evaluated during and immediately after the game, and no concussion was detected." That is absolutely not what the statement says. The statement says: "That probable concussion diagnosis was not at all clear on the field on Saturday or in the examination that was conducted post-game." As a lawyer, I am absolutely qualified to diagnose the statement as extreme parsing. That statement indicates that may have been unsure if he had a concussion or not and further evaluation was necessary, it absolutely does not mean "no concussion was detected." I would guess that the medical professionals probably used the term "concussion like symptoms." But that wouldn't look good for Hoke, et al. What I am sure of, is if they were still examining him for three tests, there was enough concern that no medical professional would have allowed him to play football. To suggest otherwise, as Hoke explicitly did in his press conference, can only lead to the conclusion that Hoke is lying or incompetent.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're exactly right on the medical professional side of thing. The fact that he had 3 tests suggests they were suspecting concussion. The fact that is took 3 tests to show it just means it is a slow progressing concussion/brain injury. This can be the case with any sort of brain injury, it's why I feel very strongly against allowing any player to get back in the game after a suspected head injury ever. You've got any sort of head/neck injury in the course of the game and you're done. Helmet taken away, taken off the field and examined by a neuro doctor.

      The reason for this is second impact syndrome. If you've never heard of it, then I suggest reading the wikipedia article on it. It is why I'm so fired up on this subject. You literally could kill or permanently disable a player just for what? A game? Not worth it.

      Delete
    2. Why do you suppose the medical professionals didn't tell the coaching staff about their concussion concerns and only mentioned that Morris' ankle sprain would prevent him from practicing on Sunday? Would the mere concern of a concussion and the start of observation be enough to hold him from further practice/game play? Or, the other possibility is that they did notify the Brady Hoke and then Hoke told a lie of monumental proportions and the medical professionals have remained silent. Hmmm

      Delete
    3. I believe Hoke lied (perhaps under orders) with the expectation that the "medical staff statement" would back him up. It's the only logical conclusion. I don't believe that Hoke doesn't receive a daily, if not more frequent, update on the health of his players. Even high school coaches get that. I don't believe that the report he received would have neglected to mention his possible/probable concussion. It just defies belief that Hoke did not know by Monday afternoon that Morris had a concussion. In this case, the obvious answer is probably the right one.

      I would argue that the medical staff haven't remained silent. They're not going to give a press conference or issue a statement outside of the athletic department. That's just not their job or how they would act. But, the fact that the statement that ultimately issued some 12 hours after it was promised disclosed a concussion diagnosis in direct contradiction to Hoke's press conference statement tells me that knew the score and chose to publicly expose Hoke's lie anyway.

      Delete
    4. Somebody will again ask Hoke about the post-game time frame and at what point Paul Schmidt, or the neurologist, told him they were initiating the concussion protocol. Do you think he'll lie and say he was never told, and when he does, do you think the medical staff will directly challenge his lie?

      Delete
    5. @Trauma Pro

      "against allowing any player to get back in the game after a suspected head injury ever"

      I think you are right, but I don't know how realistic that is. There's also been research that points to the repeated head blows (especially that linemen and linebackers take) to be damaging as well. To an extent, it's the nature of the game. But you have to draw the line somewhere.

      I'm not really arguing with you, I just think if you're going to say "any" head injury gets you pulled from the game, you either need MUCH better equipment or you'll just have to stop playing football because it's too dangerous. (Or move to 7 on 7 where the injury potential is at least somewhat diminished, two-hand touch, or some other watered-down version of the sport we all like.)

      Delete
    6. Fun fact, the technology exists, but the NFL doesn't use it.

      In the medical field there have been numerous suggestions as how to make the game safer but most of the suggestions are sitting on the proverbial sidelines riding the pine. No more 3 point stance, helmets with special impact sensors etc.

      And if I can have a moment of arrogance, I know I'm right about the not allowing players back in with suspected head injuries and I think the more public outcry over these sorts of hits and the more education and community outreach my profession can do the more realistic this will become.

      It's a matter of education and overcoming the macho attitude that is still extremely pervasive in football. If you can get over those two giant hurdles it'll be realistic.

      On the other hand, if a player for a major team pro or college dies or becomes permanently disabled because he went back out there after an initial head injury you'll also see this change happen. Honestly I'd much rather the first thing happen.

      Delete
  18. Here is the crux of this ... this entire incident is indicative of how Hoke thinks, reacts, and manages. Which in larger context is supported by the performance and regression of the football team as an overall unit. Hoke hesitated, was not part of the moment as a leader/manager, didn't grasp the weight of the situation, etc. This is how the team has been run. He furthermore did not grasp the weight of his stance at the press conference and continued on the same path as always. If you watch the sidelines during the game players do not respect/engage/listen to him. This is primarily due to the fact they have to listen to their position coaches/coordinators who are getting/giving information. Superficial "drop-in" at various position groups on the sidelines and then moving on is really emblematic of his entire approach to coaching/leadership. The organization reflects the personality/psyche of leadership and we are seeing what that looks like 4 years into it. Regardless of Brandon's ham-handed or manipulative (or both) statement this morning Hoke still is unfortunately significantly out of his depth. He has lost the team/locker room.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! That is exactly the crux of the matter. For whatever reasons, Hoke has lost control of this team and this program. The whole Morris incident just reinforces that. If we were 5-0, then you MIGHT be able to write this off as a disturbing, but isolated incident, but taken in context, you just can't.

      We have gone from a reasonably good team with optimism for a decent season to a shambles and a laughingstock in the space of less than a month. That's all on Hoke and his staff

      Delete
    2. Neither of you has ever played big time college football. Very rarely does a head coach interact with a player on any significant level during a game.

      The exceptions are few. Some coaches speak to their QB a lot. That's it. Other than that, it is all pop-ins for motivation or to stress a particular thing.

      Delete
    3. I am the first anonymous in this thread and yes, I actually have played football at this level and did quite well. Furthermore, my seats are such that I can see EVERYTHING happening on the Michigan sidelines. Also have access to several practices a year as well so I you are incorrect on a number of levels.
      I am talking about attention paid to the coach during the game. I know many coaches are limited to popping in to lend insight/criticize/motivate. They are also actively involved with the game via their communications (headsets..) They are making active decisions on a play-by-play or at least series-by-series basis. When they approach players they are given attention. It is not happening here. When hoke is on the sidelines a vast majority of his role is literally clapping and slapping ass. He engages the refs and occaisionally interacts with Nuss/Mattison on a real time basis while they are sending in calls.

      Delete
  19. This is nothing more than a reason for the fan base to all rally together to get Hoke fired before the end of the season. People pretending to care about Morris' health is absurd and all you had to do was read some of the comments made on the game thread over at the other site to understand this. We are becoming irrelevant and a laughing stock but its more because of the fan base than it is the play on the field or the coaches. I'm ashamed at how we are acting as a group.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think some people honestly do care about safety.

      Me personally, I think it's more of a culture of football "toughness" thing and what Hoke did is the same thing a lot of coaches would do.

      I care more about the fact that Hoke is not trying to win football games. Playing Morris in the first place was incompetent. Playing him in the 2nd half just double downed on that incompetence. Then keeping him in repeatedly after injuries just looks like stubbornness and trying to avoid embarrassment.

      Delete
    2. @Lanknows
      Hoke isn't trying to win football games? Spare me the bullshit. I can't take this fan base seriously anymore. Good god.

      Delete
    3. @Anon

      You can rationalize starting Morris. It's a stupid argument, but it can be made. You can even rationalize keeping him in in the 2nd half after he had again proven incapable. ...I guess. Maybe Hoke thought the clearly inferior QB wasn't inferior. Maybe that's just dumb more than it's not "trying to win".

      What you can't rationalize is the game strategy in the 4th quarter. How do you explain the strategy after Gardner led that TD drive? Punting, not going for 2, not hurrying, etc.

      He did not try to win that game after Morris went out. Why?

      Delete
  20. If/when we fire Hoke they better clean house and start new...the problem with that is it's going to put the program back even further until a new coach gets to that four/five year mark with his recruits. It's not fair to blame the coaches solely.

    Am I the only one who thinks the players are kind of just going through the motions when they are out on the field? I'd be strait pissed off if a team I played for, and for the matter coached for, was under this much scrutiny and I would take all of my aggression out on the field. It just doesn't seem like they do that. Where is the sense of urgency? Late in the games when we are down, where's the sense of trying to make a play to get us back in the game? You just are not seeing that from Team 135.

    I hate to say it but Dez wasn't in the wrong when he said, "I can go to a practice and point somebody out -- that guy right there, he wants to be great -- I think the only guy who I saw (at Michigan) who had that kind of swagger about him, may have been Jabrill Peppers."

    ReplyDelete
  21. Your stance is well put, and I agree with 80-90% of it. But here's a few things I think you're missing.

    1. "You know your guys". Well, OK fine, but Brady Hoke claims he didn't see it. If he didn't someone else did or should have. "the people who know him best" -- they were wrong. Kind of blows your argument out of the water. Even if it's true most times, it's not sufficient.

    2. "It matters that he was concussed." Yes and no. It does matter because, duh. It doesn't matter because there was CLEARLY a risk that he did - that is enough to pull him from the game. He should have been and wasn't.

    3. "nonsensical to believe that Hoke would put Morris in serious harm's way". This is just flat-out wrong. A. HE DID! B. He is trying to cover his ass. He is being stubborn. Morris was clearly ineffective and not pulled. He was clearly hurt and not pulled. Hoke did NOT want to put Gardner in.

    Hoke's strategy made it clear he was not trying to win the game in the 4th quarter, he was trying to limit embarrassment. Why not think he was doing the same with the QB? So, yes, it is completely sensical to think Hoke would be thinking of something other than Morris' safety.

    4. "If we were winning...". Doesn't matter that the issue would be smaller (which it would.) It would still matter and it's a good conversation to have. Fact is we aren't, and this is yet ANOTHER instance of bungling incompetance. Josh Groban wouldn't have mattered either, but it did even though it was a stupid trivial thing. This is not a trivial thing.

    5. "Hoke's a good guy." He probably is 9 times out of 10, but clearly he takes the "toughness" thing too far. There was the frostbite incident at Ball State (running his guys in -7 degrees Fahrenheit) and now the "I didn't see it" incident. That excuse is plausible but unlikely, but ultimately irrelevant because the alternative is incompetence. Then there is the cover-your-ass presser which is further evidence that he isn't. A good guy admits when he screwed up and tries to fix it.

    Being charismatic and charming and likeable does not make you a good guy. Hoke has done a lot of good things but he's also skated by because people like him and give him the benefit of the doubt. It's not enough to obviate you of the need to do what you can to keep your players safe.

    I hate playing the "safety card" as much as the next guy who takes issue with the over-cautious bubble-wrapping of everything, but in this case there is simply no arguing that a bad mistake happened and the attempted cover-up just makes it all the worse.

    I don't think anyone is arguing this is the ONLY reason to fire Hoke, but you can make an argument that it is enough. I don't buy it, but on top of all the other incompetence, I think it's wise to let him go. At this point he is a dead-man walking. There is really no point in continuing the agony.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Regarding #1: I don't see how a coach can be held accountable for a hit that he didn't see. As Brandon's statement implied, there are going to be further precautions put into place. If this were a left guard taking a hit to the helmet from a defensive tackle who lowered his head, we wouldn't have an issue with Hoke not seeing the hit. Because it was the QB, everyone assumes Hoke was looking at him even after he had released the football. I have also been guilty of not seeing my team's QB get hit late - because there are 20/21 other players on the field to watch.

      Delete
    2. Yes yes yes. People want to believe that the head coach either sees everything or sees what they see. The fact is that coaches are busy running a football team. This is the reason why the trainers make the call on who plays and who doesn't. They aren't busy with anything but player health.

      Delete
    3. It is plausible Hoke didn't see it. He can't see everything. A head injury is a thin line in many cases, it's part of the game, and I don't think it's as easy as people make it out to be, but it doesn't change the fact that a mistake was made. You are right to say, IMO, that it could have been an honest mistake.

      Maybe he didn't see it. But somebody else did; his teammates did, training staff did, and presumably some coaches did. A mistake was made when none of them said anything. Maybe it's not Hoke's fault, but it's his responsibility.

      If he was winning and running a competant program, there would be reasons to think the mistake was just that. However, we see a pattern of incompetence.

      If he owned the mistake and admitted it and said he would fix it, there would be reasons to think the mistake was just that. He tried to ignore it and then he shifted the blame. Maybe it was at the AD's direction maybe not, but again - it's HIS football program. He's the guy in charge.

      Hoke is responsible for the entire sideline. He is responsible for the entire football program and what happens on the field. If camera guys are a problem, it's his job to tell the media people to fix it. If health issues aren't addressed adequately, it's his job to tell the medical staff to address it. When it affects football, it's his job.

      Delete
    4. As the leader of an organization you are responsible for the people under you. You can be forgiven for their mistakes, but not for not addressing them. And if the mistakes are happening repeatedly, on many fronts, you deserve to be fired.

      At this point there is no way Hoke can come out of this.

      Delete
  22. Magnus,

    On one hand, thanks for bringing thought and intelligence to these issues. It really stands out and you are the only blogger I read now.

    On the other, sadly you are telling people mostly what they already know or could figure out (though certainly the coach's perspective is new and valuable). They just choose to join the feeding frenzy and inflame the situation more. Is it if worth telling people what they already know? I think so. There's so much power in the pulpit, as they say; seeing one person model reasonable behavior I think has a large influence.

    Thanks. Many professional journalists could take a lesson from your thinking and writing.

    Long Time Alum



    ReplyDelete
  23. I'm not sure, and maybe I haven't received an update, but last I knew "probable" was not synonymous with "definite" so it would be incorrect to say Morris suffered a concussion when the qualifier "probable" is used.

    And another thing, if the medical staff was concerned enough in the immediate post game to start a concussion protocol, why did they not immediately tell the coaching staff? Rather, the only information they apparently forwarded to the coaching staff was that Morris would not be available for practice because of his ankle sprain. Was Paul Schmidt trying to hide concussion concerns from Brady Hoke? If so, why? If not, and if Dave Brandon and Brady Hoke grossly misstated the truth, why aren't UM medical personnel publicly stating as much? Seems to me that by staying silent they would be putting their own credibility on the line.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Because at this point the lawyers are in charge.

      Delete
  24. Magnus,

    I would add: I was watching on TV and I didn't see the hit until they showed the replay, though it happened on-screen. I was watching the ball just like everyone else. Someone said the whole stadium saw it; obviously most people would have been watching the ball and did not.

    LTA

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The whole stadium did not see it. Some did. The whole stadium, no.

      Delete
  25. Basically, someone is being dragged through the mud because he doesn't run a spread offense.

    Hoke made a huge mistake. It was an understandable mistake. It was a common mistake. It was compounded by the mistakes of others, some who are more culpable. But only he can make the team run Brian Cook's preferred offense.

    Want proof? How many words has mgoblog written about Shane Morris's health?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure that's what the TV announcer was thinking when he called out Hoke for keeping Morris in the game. "What would Brian Cook (who I have probably never heard of) think about this?" I'm sure the ABC producers who put this on national TV were thinking "Maybe this will help Michigan run a spread."

      Cook is what he is, but what happened was not a common mistake. QBs who wobble dont just stay on the field, then get called BACK out onto the field without being checked out.

      Maybe you should save your Mgoblog complaints for Mgoblog.

      @Thunder

      This blogs comments have grown to be pretty healthy and robust. Several have commended the site for having a good civil discourse. The anon's aren't helping that. It might be time to try dropping the Anonymous posts again because the garbage ratio just seems to be going up and 9/10 are coming from Anon.

      Delete
    2. This, the most acidic post on this thread, wasn't written by Anonymous, it was written by....well you can scroll up and find it for yourself.

      Don, shut up. This is perhaps the least reasonable post I've ever read from Magnus. This isn't the "adult voice of reason." This is "cover my ass because I left it hanging in the breeze."

      Delete
    3. It is irony that Brian has attacked Free Press so furiously yet following its footsteps he does not like.
      More, yet he loudly blames Dave Brandon for his profit-first mindset, yet he does not promote his for-profit products whenever possible.

      Delete
    4. @drkjk at 3:53pm -- if you're referring to me, then you're incorrect. I have one post above and that it.

      Delete
    5. @Anon 2:04pm

      I think you are right, but of course I can't read Cook's mind. Here's my impression: Cook in his blog (I don't know him personally at all) has had trouble admitting he's wrong (e.g., eating lemons) and has greatly overreacted to problems (e.g., all the outrage, or remember when he posted the name and contact info of a board member he didn't like?). Again, I only know what Cook writes; I've never met him. Also, Cook the blogger does have his good points, but this post isn't about some serious problems.

      Cook backed the spread offense and RR, and since then has gone after seemingly everyone who made that choice look bad or who, by attacking them, make RR look better: Greg Robinson got the blame for defense, Carr for undermining RR, the Free Press for reporting on him, Brandon for firing him; Hoke for replacing RR and wanting a different offense, Borges for implementing a different offense, anyone for suggesting Denard was a poor QB and better RB ... The pattern is my interpretation, but Cook has openly been gunning for Brandon and Hoke for a long time, and now finally saw a weakness for his latest campaign of outrage.

      He is influential. I've seen him cited by Grantland and Sports Illustrated about Hoke recently; one Grantland writer essentially let Cook write the article. And he has a Rush Limbaugh-like influence on many of his hyper-loyal readers; I even hear people who know nothing about blogs repeating Cook's claims as they filter around the community.

      I think Cook might be Michigan football's biggest problem. The current situation likely wouldn't be nearly as difficult without him. And it's just the latest of the regular online riots he leads like it's another Michigan sport; what will he pick on next? He's smeared one person's reputation after another, including the people I mentioned above. It's disgusting to see and heartless. His outrage at yet another person or event has become routine and laughable: What, you're angry again? Another temper tantrum? He makes it much more difficult for UM to succeed; this year we'd have much better prospects for some recovery without him, but he aggressively tries to bury us. And he's enabled by his followers many of whom are so loyal -- to a blog they read, as odd as that sounds -- that they apparently can't even tolerate criticism of him.

      Again, I don't know Cook personally, I only know what is on his blog. And his blog does have good points. These are big problems.

      @Magnus: While it's not the most erudite post, the parent is nothing compared to other things I've seen on TTB, including about Hoke and Brandon. It's an important discussion and definitely belongs.

      Long Time Alum

      Delete
    6. No, Don, I wasn't referring to you, I was referring to the one that was advising you to "shut up."

      RE: Brian Cook,
      Terribly disappointed with him, a young man with so much writing talent and intelligence. Instead of staying above the fray and only guiding his blog with a soft touch, which he has done from time to time, he has decided to become the fray. Cook is now coming across as one bent on the destruction of Michigan Football as a sort of religious cleansing and I'm afraid that he'll never be satiated.

      It will be interesting to observe his reactions when the inevitable happens and hires are made with which he disagrees.

      Delete
  26. If Les Miles was coaching Michigan, we wouldn't have these problems.

    ReplyDelete
  27. No one likes blastbeat. I do not know why thunder let's his comments be seen. He is rude to everyone on here. And obviously doesn't know anything about football. His comments do nothing but make Michigan fans look bad. Look. I'm posting as anon.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Very interesting that there is only outrage at Hoke, who clearly cares about his players and only put in Morris, by mistake for a play or two, and not about the Minnesota player for trying to assassinate our QB with a cheap hit. It's sad that we'd rather take a minor opportunity to lynch our own than to defend our QB.

    LTA

    ReplyDelete
  29. I don't have a profile, but I have to voice my opinion. In this day and age, a coach has to take the health of the player seriously. You are using a portion of the event to justify that it is overblown.
    Hoke talks about how much he cares about the players, but he couldn't talk to the Medical staff after the game? Did you watch his presser and his indignant answers. Those are not answers of a man who care about his players.
    He might apologize on Wednesday after his AD threw him under the bus. But that guy was defiant until Monday.
    Your take on the winning and losing could be true. People want him gone. What I do have to say is that other blogs are more outraged about DB than Hoke. It seems like you are assessing this based on Hoke only, but the events after Saturday, initiated by DB, played a big role in the outrage.
    I like Hoke. I think he is a decent man. He just doesn't know what to do. Incompetence is a fireable offense. But he didn't have the balls to be outraged about DB's press release so far and the lack of knowledge on the concussion report by Monday.
    Shouldn't he be in the Medical staff's office and demanding the report. Just like everything else he delegated this also.
    So, I am not so sure he is not culpa able. His incompetence and lack of leadership during and after the game in itself is a fireable offense. He is the coach at M and he he has some power. Now he sounds like a puppet for everyone in the administration.
    So, I blame him for being ignorant, indignant and for lack of leadership and most of all, his lack of stubbornness to after the Medical Staff for his players. He should be fired. NOW. Should be after his friend, DB, who threw him under the bus.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The existence of mistakes does not indicate incompetence. Everyone makes mistakes, all the time.

      Hoke did what he did during a football game, with plays every 30 seconds, 115 players and dozens of staff to oversee, plus refs and the other team. We've watched and rewatched those few minutes over days, in slow motion from multiple angles, with input and discussion from thousands of people, experts, etc. Would you want every few minutes of your job evaluated like that? I bet every one of us would come up short. You might have spent longer writing that post than Hoke had to deal with everything.

      You might want to make judgments about someone from their press conference. Everyone I've heard or read who knows Hoke says he's a good man who cares deeply about his players. I think I'll go with their opinions.

      And regarding his imperfection, I could care less if he's indignant.

      Go Blue!

      Long Time Alum

      Delete