Thursday, August 9, 2012

Hoke with a tough call on Toussaint

In the world of college football there is a loose interpretation of the term “doing what is right.”
There isn’t a program in the country that doesn’t have “off the field issues” involving players.
Some more serious than others.
Some involving more talented players than others.
The conundrum always comes with handing out punishment. It is a tight spot for the coaches of the program because their decisions are reflected in two key ways.
1. If you punish a big star, it could result in losses, which ultimately impacts the coach’s job.
2. If you fail to hold a big star accountable, it sends the message to the other players that they can get away with making mistakes as long as they produce on the field.
Brady Hoke finds himself is this very spot right now as running back Fitzgerald Toussaint is suspended from the team currently due to a DUI arrest in the offseason. Defensive end Frank Clark is also suspended from the team after being charged with second-degree home invasion. Clark has some promise and can help the team, but Toussaint is really the focus here.
If Michigan is to be successful, it is believed that Toussaint will be a big part of that. He rushed for 1,041 yards and nine touchdowns last season and took a lot of the pressure of Denard Robinson in both the run and pass game.
Toussaint will also be very valuable and necessary if Michigan hopes to contend with Alabama in the season opener. Even if he is on the field, it will be a big uphill climb for the Wolverines to win.
So, the question is, what does Hoke do? Do you keep Toussaint from playing the season opener, or perhaps even longer? Or, does missing some of training camp equate to a worthy punishment?
Hoke sent a big message last year by redshirting Darryl Stonum for the 2011 season following his second DUI arrest. Many applauded the move and I also feel it sent a good message to his players about being accountable (Stonum ultimately would be dismissed from the team for good in January for another incident off the field).
But now, Hoke’s punishment of Stonum must equate properly to the likes of Toussaint and Clark. I am not saying Toussaint should sit the year. It was a first offense. But, I am not sure missing just one game sends a clear message.
What Hoke does with Toussaint will go a long way in defining his character. Given his track record, I expect Hoke will do the right thing, and not just in a figurative sense.

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