Michigan's Brady Hoke is already dangerously close to being fired.
Publicly endangering one of his star players probably won't help his case to stay.
Sophomore quarterback Shane Morris was playing his first significant action for the Wolverines, taking over the offense's reigns after the team had stumbled to an unimpressive 2-2 record. He was supposed to give the team a spark, but instead he got a jolt when a Minnesota defender almost dislodged his head from his shoulders.
The brutal and illegal hit got Morris right in the skull during the fourth quarter of Michigan's Saturday night 30-14 loss. Morris got hit late on the play and stumbled into one of his fellow offensive linemen in the aftermath. Even from the distance of national television cameras, the quarterback looked dazed, confused and simply sick.
But Hoke didn't notice any of that. And though Michigan was trailing 30-7, he kept his signal-caller in.
Not enough concern
Morris threw another incomplete pass before finally stumbling his way to the sideline and checking himself out of the game.
That's when Hoke can be seen giving his passer a quick pat on the stomach as a nearby trainer leads him off the field.
Hoke later told reporters that he hadn't seen Morris' wandering, wobbly walk following the devastating hit.
"I don't know if he had a concussion or not," I don't know that," Hoke said. "Shane's a pretty competitive, tough kid. And Shane wanted to be the quarterback, and so, believe me, if he didn't want to be he would've come to the sideline or stayed down."
Morris was slow to get up after the hit and was walking with an evident limp, and his significant handicap was clear to most television viewers. Yet it is a real concern that players fighting for time often don't want to admit when they're struggling with concussion-like symptoms.
Still, if there was any doubt as to whether Morris had a concussion, the coach should have pulled him for one play just to check. Ignorance is not an excuse when the whole stadium saw the play and yet none of the assistant coaches or trainers flagged Morris down for a quick checkup.
"I did not [see the hit]," Hoke told reporters. "I didn't see it. I can only answer for me."
Facing the hot seat
Even without the stunning mismanagement of his player's injury, Hoke would have been facing questions about his job security after the surprising loss to Minnesota.
His predecessor, Rich Rodriguez, went an awful 15-22 (6-18 Big Ten) while coaching the Wolverines, which led to that coach's departure after three seasons. Compared to that record, Hoke's 28-16 (15-10 Big Ten) record is glowing.
But expectations are high at the big house. And when a coach not only loses, but does so in a way that is both embarrassing and dangerous to his players, it's about time for the school to move on.
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