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Big Ten Notebook: Michigan in turmoil

BY DANNY PAYNE | OCTOBER 01, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Michigan football program found itself in hot water over the weekend — and not just for the team’s play, either.

After quarterback Shane Morris suffered an ankle injury in a 30-14 loss to Minnesota and was cleared to return to the game, he took a brutal hit to the head area from Gopher defensive lineman Theiren Cockran.

When he got up, he appeared to be in a wobbly daze. Morris leaned on one of his offensive lineman and waved toward the sideline.

He took one more snap and threw an incomplete pass before being subbed out for Devin Gardner. Gardner lost his helmet one play later, and Morris returned to the field to hand the ball off. After the game, he was carted off the field.

Michigan head coach Brady Hoke took a lot of heat for allowing Morris to play when it appeared he had concussion symptoms.

“We would never put a guy out there when there was a possibility with head trauma,” Hoke said Monday afternoon.

Michigan Athletics Director Dave Brandon released a statement regarding the incident at midnight Monday (CDT). He said the communication between Hoke and the medical staff was poor, and Hoke didn’t know Morris had been diagnosed with a probable concussion and a high ankle sprain before he spoke Monday.

However, in his most recent public comment, Hoke was quick to make his position on the matter very clear.

“I want to refer to the statement that we made — that the Athletics Department released regarding Shane Morris,” Hoke said on the Big Ten teleconference Tuesday. “I’m not going to add anything to that statement other than echo the safety of our student-athletes is top priority and make sure we get it right.”

Tuesday evening, Michigan President Mark Schlissel released a statement (which, as of this writing, is the latest public statement from Michigan on the situation) noting his disappointment with the handling of the entire case.

“As president, I will take all necessary steps to make sure [new protocol changes] occur and to enforce the necessary accountability for our success in that regard,” Schlissel said in a statement. “Our communications going forward will be direct, transparent, and timely.”

Melvin ‘Sweetness’ Gordon

The Wildcats are set to face another tough opponent this weekend in Wisconsin. On the Big Ten teleconference, head coach Pat Fitzgerald noted one player he’s particularly worried about: Melvin Gordon.

Fitzgerald compared the Badger running back with Walter Payton (yes, that Walter Payton) Monday and backed that statement up on the Big Ten teleconference Tuesday.

“I was a little kid when Sweetness was playing,” Fitzgerald said of the former Chicago Bears great. “He was the best. No. 1, he had great vision, he had great balance, and you see that with Melvin.”

Regardless of how Gordon performs, Fitzgerald’s expecting a very competitive contest at home.

“You better know this, when you play Wisconsin, you better have some extra air in your helmet and your chinstrap buckled up a little tighter because it’s going to be a physical Big Ten game,” Fitzgerald said.

Follow @dannyapayne for updates, news, and analysis about the Iowa football team.


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