If you’ve been living under a rock up until today, you’re probably one of the only people who has not heard what has been happening in Ann Arbor.
On Saturday, Head Coach Brady Hoke left starting quarterback Shane Morris in a game in which the Wolverines were being blown out, despite the fact that he was walking gingerly and wobbling back to the huddle. Hoke said that Morris remained in the game because he is a competitor and wants to win, however, replays showed Morris taking a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit directly under his chinstrap. Although Morris was literally leaning on his offensive line, Hoke stuck with the lefty.
This alone could be a fireable offense, yet no one has explained why Morris continued to play, and not a healthy Devin Gardner to finish the game. Gardner eventually came into the game, but was removed for one play due to his helmet coming off during a play, an NCAA rule states that a player will need to be taken out of the game for one play if his helmet comes off, and in came Morris, again.
Morris was being evaluated on the sideline, but was thrown back in when Russell Bellomy couldn’t find his helmet. This led to outrage from fans and reporters, and for good reason. The sophomore was physically beaten, and may possibly even have had a concussion, but the extent of the injury was not revealed. Gardner led the Wolverines on a touchdown drive after reentering the game, but the damage was already done.
The leadership of this team has been questioned for the duration of the season, and starts at the very top of the athletic department. Dave Brandon has been under fire all year, as well as Hoke, and this may have been the last straw for the university. The Wolverines need a leader, and it needs to come from someone on the current roster, and anyone willing to step up and save a season will be welcomed with open arms. The Head Coach seems as if he will not fill that role, the Athletic Director is in that boat as well, and it is a shame because this is when they are needed most.
Maybe a senior on the roster will step up, maybe someone younger, but someone will need to step up, and fast. This team is too talented to be 2-3 on the season, yet the play on the field suggests that the team should be happy with the two wins, playing probably the worst football in the Big Ten as of late. There are no captains on the team, and that is a problem. There are no leaders in that locker room, and that is a problem. But more problems loom as the status of Brandon and Hoke are up in the air.
If this team wants to finish 2-10, they damn well can if they continue to play this way, but do not think this is all on the players. While the product on the field has been putrid, the coaching and general direction of the program has been even worse. Michigan prided themselves on being, “the Leaders and Best,” yet that seems to be propaganda at this point, as none of that has proved to be true up to this point.
But one thing remains clear: Heads will roll in Michigan. Who’s head remains to be seen, but far more should be rolling now, and not later. I can make an argument that the 2015 recruiting class will suffer, but in reality, what has this staff done with recruits, anyway? Star-studded classes have came and went since Hoke arrived, and only one BCS bowl win, and zero Big Ten Championships have been attained in his tenure.
Change needs to happen, and soon, or else this University will be stuck on those forty-two Big Ten Championships, and remain a punchline for National media. A leader is needed, and anyone willing to step up will be appreciated, or else this team will be in trouble far longer than the 2014 season.