By Chris Emma-
(CBS) How bad have things gotten for Michigan? The Baltimore Ravens — yes, those Ravens — tweeted coach John Harbaugh’s denial of interest in replacing Brady Hoke as coach.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Winter Weather Advisory Issued For Illinois; 1-3 Inches Of Snow Possible
“I’m interested in Brady Hoke being the head coach at Michigan for a long time to come,” Harbaugh said, as relayed by the same Ravens’ Twitter account that once tweeted the victim of domestic abuse apologizing for her role in the act.
A tweet from the Ravens on Hoke’s job security seems like something that would stem from The Onion. Like Baltimore didn’t have enough of its own problems, but every item of this Michigan story is a mess.
As the CEO of a powerful football brand who looks a recruit’s parents in the eyes and promises to take care of their child, Hoke let quarterback Shane Morris play with a concussion Saturday against Minnesota. He endangered the kid, and it was evident to every viewer on ABC’s national broadcast and the two-thirds capacity crowd left in Michigan’s Big House.
Morris could hardly stand on his own two feet, let alone throw a football. Leaving him on the field for that one play was so reckless, so egregious, that it should have cost Hoke his job, the 2-3 record aside.
Even if Hoke had believed Morris was wobbling because of a leg injury, why put a promising sophomore quarterback limping on the field in the fourth quarter of a blowout? That’s just another tactical decision in which Hoke failed.
Then, Hoke doubled down on ignorance and stupidity, forcing Morris to stumble back on the field to substitute for Devin Gardner, sidelined for a play after losing his helmet. Morris was being tended to on the bench, his helmet off. Third-stringer Russell Bellamy had his helmet in hand, but Morris was led back out.
Just one week prior, I stood on the Ryan Field sidelines and watched Northwestern star linebacker Collin Ellis removed from the field by team personnel, have his helmet immediately stripped away and a concussion test administered. That’s the proper protocol to diagnose a significant brain injury, one which has lasting effects beyond football.
Are there any adults in charge of this Michigan program?READ MORE: Chicago Park District Hosts Polar Adventure Days At Northerly Island
The head coach either didn’t know it or chose to ignore it. His assistants, support staff and medical team failed, too. But all the blame falls first to Hoke, clearly in over his head at a power program like Michigan.
As if two blowout losses in the Big House, the Morris mess and public outcry weren’t enough, things would get worse for Hoke in the wee hours of the night. Michigan’s official statement in response to the ordeal from athletic director Dave Brandon hit the wires 12:52 ET Tuesday and did Hoke no favors.
“In my judgment, there was a serious lack of communication that led to confusion on the sideline,” Brandon said in part of the statement. “Unfortunately, this confusion created a circumstance that was not in the best interest of one of our student-athletes. I sincerely apologize for the mistakes that were made.”
A buried statement like this is the step before firing Hoke. His seat is more scalding than a Hot Pocket.
Factor in how this statement contradicts every mumbling statement Hoke made in his Monday press conference, attempting to deny any knowledge that Morris had suffered a concussion. Brandon knew of it Sunday.
Hoke could be fired for his coaching failures, as Michigan has become a shell of itself. But the irresponsible actions of leaving a concussed quarterback on the field, then putting him back out there, are unacceptable. That trumps any loss in the Big House.
Blame Brandon, too, who should also be shown the door. The Wolverines have become a Big Ten punch line. Offering two free game tickets for a purchase of Coke products was bad, but Brandon’s rock bottom was still a long way down. The athletic director likely won’t cave on Hoke until the money stops coming in from donors and ticket sales.
The lack of leadership in Ann Arbor is appalling. Even the Ravens are acknowledging it.
Somebody at Michigan has to use their authority and dismiss Hoke. But nobody in charge has used proper judgement, so it shouldn’t be expected now.MORE NEWS: Northwestern Medicine Study Gives Clues About How Long COVID-19 Symptoms Can Linger
Chris Emma covers the college sports scene for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.