Roundtable: Concussion Debacle Examined

GoBlueWolverine's Sam Webb sat down with former Michigan All-American and Big Ten Network analyst Marcus Ray and WTKA college football analyst Steve Clarke discuss how a breakdown as serious as the one that occurred on Michigan's sideline last Saturday actually takes place. The crew shared its thoughts on who was to blame on the field, on the sideline, and more.

Sam Webb:  I want to get both of your takes on the breakdown at Michigan last week.  We were all in the press box last week and there certainly things I missed in the moment.  I did not see Shane Morris get hit.  I saw him stumble and I made the connection only after I saw the replay.  There were obviously a number of breakdowns from that point on Steve and I’m curious on your take on how that went down and how it has been handled since, kind of where you are with all of that.

Steve Clarke:  “One of the things that I look at is how the media handles it.  It’s funny, the amount of misinformation that was out there early, the hyperbole that was going and forth and some people I think were somewhat lucky with the way they were branding about that Shane Morris had a concussion before he was diagnosed with a concussion.  This gets a little behind the box a little bit.  You have the video that everybody got to see and everybody got to be outraged about.  The information was out there that Brady Hoke knowingly knew that he had a concussion and sent him back out on the field anyway.  That’s what most of the country thinks right now.  Most of the country thinks that Brady Hoke knew he had a concussion and sent him out on the field anyway, and that’s where a lot of the outrage is from.  Then you also got the audio supporting it from the ABC News commentator, Ed Cunningham.  This is not his fault of anything like that.  He is a former offensive lineman and knows people who have gone through concussions, but as a color commentary, Marcus speak up here at any point, you’re job is to be insightful, and maybe point out that people didn’t realize but seems kind of obvious.  One of the things that he was going about was the game is over, Shane Morris is over, he is limping, he should probably sit.  He wasn’t sitting and he kept getting hit, kept getting hit, he kept limping and limping and then eventually had to go all in about his opinion about why he should be sitting and he wasn’t being sat.  Then when he got hit the way he did, as I said, his chips were all in the game and he had to go out swinging at that point.  When you have all that audio of him doing that, it makes it even a worse case from Michigan’s perspective, on that particular point of view.  For the others, I think Dave Revsine was one of the few people that was quoted on that national network stuff.  He said, let’s buy into the fact that Brady Hoke didn’t see the play, didn’t know what happened, somebody needed to tell him.  I think that is where a big part of that breakdown occurred and the thing that just does not look right, right now, is the statement from Dave Brandon, which came about 12 hours after the statement was said was forthcoming.  That was a little bit difficult.”

Marcus Ray:  “When I go back to watch that series.  It was first and ten, Shane threw a pass, Kalis got beat and held the defense tackle.  The defense tackle took, I think is what is a cheap shot at Shane’s ankle.  That was first and ten.  Shane was 100% before that happened.  (Later) you go on first and 20, they ran a draw play.  Second and 16, you throw the high ball out of bounds to Funchess.  Shane is clearly hurt.  My thing is, the officials… this is where is started.  The officials should have stopped the game on the ankle injury because Shane was clearly hurt.  Third down, I don’t know why Nussmeier would call a rollout pass anyways with a guy with a bum ankle that is still in the game even if he is trying tough it out.  Shane takes a cheap shot.  Referees again, when Shane was laying face down, should have stopped the game.  That’s an injury.  Any quarterback, where we are in this world with head injuries and targeting, if you are going to throw a personal foul, stop the game and eject the guy, get everything under control.”

“Where Brady went wrong in my opinion, he didn’t call a timeout when Gardner’s helmet came off.  Shane playing through with injury, that’s a judgment call.  I’m a former player.  We played through injuries.  If he didn’t see the hit… how can you see the hit when you following the track of the football.  Now you’re trying to figure out what the penalty is.  Yeah somebody should have told him, ‘Shane got hit, he took a shot, Brady hold on, let’s figure this out.’  There is so much going on, on that sideline.  I just don’t like how Brady is taking the heat for everything. That’s for me what is real bad, but it starts off with officiating.  You didn’t make the right call.  You didn’t stop the game.  They didn’t do anything to protect Shane Morris either.  He played one more play after the penalty and he took the hit.  He threw a bad pass and now it is time to come on out.  Now you’re on the sideline, he’s getting treatment, he’s being looked at.  People are trying to figure out what’s going on.  Brady is still trying to manage the game – Devin is in there.  Everybody has got a job to do on that sideline.” 

Now (Russell) Bellomy, whose mind is blew out because he’s not even in the rotation… he didn’t even feel like he was part of the team in spring ball.  Now he is standing there and he can’t find his helmet. That’s on him!  Everybody played a role in this, but you want Brady Hoke to manage everybody (with) eyes on the back of his head.  See the hit, see the ball, could have been pass interference.  He could have argued that too.  You’re mad because Brady isn’t cussing out officials.  Listen, everybody played a role in this, but where Brady needs to take ownership is that he didn’t call a timeout.  He didn’t stop the game and get all this foolishness under control.  From the penalty to Shane… tell your quarterback, ‘if you get hit lay down.  We can put another guy in.’ That helps the safety of student-athletes in my opinion too is to coach them up, especially at quarterback.  If you take a shot, lay down because you might get a penalty and they have time to review it.  Then we can get the targeting and the ejection and then Shane can come out and get looked at.  For Bellomy not to have his helmet that just got everybody all out of whack.  Because now Brady is trying to figure out what’s going on.  Somebody is calling Shane off the bench and what I compare it to is when Chris Webber called timeout.  This is like when Chris Webber called timeout…”

Sam Webb:  Michael Talley was telling him to call timeout.

Marcus Ray:  “…yeah.  Chris Webber traveled first of all and then he is going down the court.  Steve Fisher didn’t yell timeout, Michael Talley yelled timeout.  So did Brady Hoke say, ‘hey Shane Morris come back into the game.  Tough it out son.” Or was somebody else yelling, ‘hey Shane, Shane, Shane’ and he gets up.  So there is a lot more going on the sideline than people really realize. I hate to see a good man, a great man, a great person like Brady Hoke to take the fall and the blame for everybody else’s foolishness.”

Steve Clarke:  “A couple of things. I think on Monday, I think Brady said he was actually trying to go to the referee and see if he could buy a timeout back.  If he called a timeout, he could get Devin back into the game.  He was told not too.  Another referee told him he could and by then Shane was already out there.  Another coach telling him to run out there as quickly as possible, he could be doing that.  The second thing is, 96 hours after the fact and CBS Morning News program reiterating the story and then added the fact that Shane Morris did return to the ballgame to play a few plays later.  He didn’t.  He played the one play and did anybody think at that point that it was going to be a pass play where he could get hit again? The anchor mentioned for the world to hear that Brady Hoke put him in to play for a ‘few plays’ after he was out and that wasn’t the case.”

Marcus Ray:  “I was in the booth a few weeks ago and the one thing my producer kept saying was don’t speculate.  I think that announcer Saturday started a fire that the robots of the world, the ones looking for the negative energy are going to feed into it.  In my opinion, he went too far.  Because he didn’t know either.  He’s calling the game.  I remember I was getting ready to say something when there was a penalty thrown on a punt return and I was saying, ‘a lot of times when there is a penalty’…  my producer said, ‘don’t speculate’… and I stopped talking.  Then I tried to clean it up and say, ‘well there really shouldn’t be a penalty on a fair catch because guys shouldn’t be touching anybody, you run past the ball.’  I left it at that.  But my producer stopped me from going too far because that’s not our place to give our personal opinion.  We’re supposed to analyze the game.  Play-by-play tells you who, what, when and where and the color guy tells you the how and the why.  All that other stuff in my opinion, you leave that alone.”

Sam Webb:  I hear you and as I’ve said before, many of the sentiments that you are uttering now are ones that I share.  Hey, the mistake in the moment is that no one was able to inform Brady to the point where he could have the context to know that Shane took a shot that might have been a head injury… and ultimately as the head guy that falls on you.  But from coming to the sideline and not having the medical procedures all having taken place in time or telling him that they hadn’t been before you have (Shane) getting back on the football field… that’s another layer of the mistake.  Then it is compounded (in the days) afterward.  But as bad as the mistakes were in the moment, you made a great point, a lot is going on.  It doesn’t make it okay that it happened, but you can kind of understand.  It is a fog of war thing.”

Steve Clarke:  “Here is the new Michigan policy on this now and wouldn’t you love to have this job.  You sit down in a lounge chair with a big screen TV in front of you, with a radio broadcast in one ear and the TV broadcast in the other ear, and a coach’s clicker button that says this guy is going off on how this guy got hit in the head.  Click-click, make sure the team knows about it.”

Sam Webb:  That’s how it’ll go from now on.  We can talk about the fog of war, the confusion in the moment, and understanding but not excusing how (that kind of mistake) happens.  The problem is Michigan still didn’t get it right with the benefit of time.  A day later, or two days later… still, it was still like they were in the moment.  It was like things were happening bang-bang, but really you had time to figure this out.  You had time to evaluate everything.  You had time to have everyone, especially the head coach who has been taking much of the blame. As I said yesterday, blame that should be more evenly dispersed than it is.  He should definitely be in the loop (when it comes to receiving medical results) and he wasn’t.  That leads to this grand perception of disorganization that is out there, that is leading to this adversity that Michigan is dealing with now."

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