At Brady Hoke's Monday press conference, he deferred answering questions about Shane Morris' health during and after the game by alluding to a forthcoming statement from medical experts that would answer everything. Media covering the ongoing drama in Ann Arbor waited. And waited. Ordered pizza. Fiddled with Twitter. Waited. And finally, just before 1:00 am, the university released a statement from Dave Brandon. (Who is not a medical expert, but surely wants to control the medical findings in the context of the rest of the he said/he said scenario of game day.)
Here are some quoted highlights and some reasons I believe this statement and its delay served only to make the entire program look more ridiculous and to begin the separation between Brandon and his coach.
- "Following the game, a comprehensive concussion evaluation was completed and Shane has been evaluated twice since the game. As of Sunday, Shane was diagnosed with a probable, mild concussion, and a high ankle sprain." "Unfortunately, there was inadequate communication between our physicians and medical staff and Coach Hoke was not provided the updated diagnosis before making a public statement on Monday. This is another mistake that cannot occur again." So Hoke's own boss, with the program's reputation on the line, knew the results but didn't see the need to personally contact him Sunday or Monday morning before standing him in front of a wall of hungry reporters. He was relying on the doctors to call Hoke instead. The king of micromanagement delegated THAT decision to doctors? Unbelievable. I think Brandon willingly kept him in ignorance or worse, forced him to feign it, in order to give himself more time to line up the bus wheels over the appropriate bodies.
- "Ultimate responsibility for the health and safety of our student-athletes resides with each team's coach and with me, as the Director of Athletics. ...I have had numerous meetings since Sunday morning to thoroughly review the situation that occurred at Saturday's football game regarding student-athlete Shane Morris. I have met with those who were directly involved and who were responsible for managing Shane's care and determining his medical fitness for participation." So, Brady Hoke is responsible for player safety and was on the field at the time of the incident, but Hoke says Brandon hadn't spoken to him about Shane Morris, coaching performance issues, or anything in over 48 hours after the game, a time-frame that certainly included any Sunday morning meetings held with those "responsible" for Shane's health and care. Like Hoke.
- "In my judgment, there was a serious lack of communication that led to confusion on the sideline." All of which would be lessened if the hub of game communications, the head coach, the man responsible and accountable for EVERYTHING could be troubled to wear a headset. At his presser, Hoke reiterated strongly that 'No!' he would not wear a headset. We'll see who wins that argument at the Rutgers game this weekend, eh? And how about game readiness and sideline player management? Should any player be so far from his helmet that he can't find it when an emergency calls him in to play? Russell Bellomy looked like a guy who woke up from a long nap when tapped to come in. The panic on his face at not being able to find his equipment mirrored the panic I saw all over the sidelines. Not having a player ever-ready contributed to Morris returning to the game when he clearly should not have done so.
While I still feel that Brady Hoke should probably lose his job over this and for just pure non-performance, I find myself feeling a little sympathy for him now. He's not a bad man. He's an affable, decent guy who I feel believes he's doing the right things. This job may be over his head, but it's hard to know since his boss has his hand on so many things, we can't tell how much Hoke is allowed to think and act on his own. What is clear, is that Brandon has fired up the bus and has thrown his coach, the team doctors, and everyone but himself under the wheels. With any luck, the bus will drive him out of town not long after he destroys those who report to him.