I've been a Hoke fan since 2008, and no it's not because his cards rolled over like a puppy for UB during the MAC Championship game. It's also not because he broke the hearts of Cards fans by bolting the post for another mid-major job.
I was a Hoke fan because he rebuilt the program in Muncie. Then I grew fonder of the coach when he did the same thing in San Diego. Heck by the time the Wolverines hired him I liked hoke so much that I was on the verge of rooting for them. I never did cross that line of insanity but I cam damn close.
My man crush on Brady Hoke was broken this past weekend when he left his quarterback in the game after suffering perhaps the worst single hit I have ever seen a collegiate passer take. The fact that Shane Morris managed to get back to his feet is a testament as to how tough the kid is.
Note I used the word kid!
He looked like a boxer climbing up on eight after repeated blows put him down. He could barely stand both dizzy from the hit and hobbled by an ankle injury. There was no reason on earth to leave a quarter back in. Some folks would argue if he was a senior and this was the BCS championship then maybe, sans the head blow, you leave him in but I disagree.
These guys are kids who don't fully appreciate what these hits will fell like in 20 years. I myself was a runner, nothing as glorious or high impact as football but those thousands of miles run do come back to mind on a crisp autumn day when my knees ache for no reason.
Of course Hoke tried to pull out the old chestnut "You play though the pain" but this was not pain. This was a world class beating and at the end of the day it's Hoke who is responsible for the safety of the kids under his charge. In this instance it was clear to every lay person in the world that Morris was not good to go.
Even before the hit that knocked him silly Morris was already hurt and the game was out of hand. Just looking at the crushing blow delivered by the Gophers any reasonable person would say "He is done for the day". It should not have required a neurologist or trainer to tell Hoke that his starter was or was not ok.
To make things worse the Michigan AD released a limp statement which uses the first few sentences saying both he and Hoke own player safety and then paragraphs making excuses for failure.
Our friends over at Maize and Brew did a fantastic job destroying the release.
Everything wrong with the Dave Brandon Press Release - Maize n Brew
The summary is clear. Brady Hoke is in over his head and his actions and inaction Saturday were a fireable offense. Meanwhile, Dave Brandon has further sullied his reputation by allowing Hoke to remain as head coach and by attempting to pass lies and misdirection on to an intelligent fan base.
My only concern here is that this level of anger is being levied by some fans, in part, because of how bad Michigan has been. If Nick Saban pulled this would Alabama fans be calling for his job? I sure hope so but I honestly don't know, nor can I positively say would have any different.
I hope that two things come out of this experience. The first would be accountability for this event. I don't know if that means Hoke's job or not but it can certainly be no slap on the wrist. If this is a few games off the sideline it's not enough. At the very least he should be done for the year, without pay until after the Bowl season is over.
The second thing I hope is a greater sense of awareness by college football fans and more pressure on coaches and administrators to put the "student" in front of the "athlete". That might mean a few more losses here and there but in the long run it may help a lot of kids and save the game from itself.