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The Michigan story has officially gone off the rails

Here's a good rule of thumb for athletics departments and coaches. Heck, it's a good rule for all of us. If Congress starts poking around in the way you do business, something has gone wrong.

We're now at that point in Ann Arbor.

Following the Shane Morris incident during Michigan's 30-14 loss to Minnesota Saturday and the Wolverines' disastrous follow-up culminating in a 1 a.m. press release, New Jersey Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr., has sent a letter to Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany urging him to change the league's concussion protocol.

I'll spare you the 10 paragraphs of grandstanding and cut to the end (you can read the entire letter here, courtesy of MLive):

I strongly urge you to investigate the circumstances surrounding Shane Morris’s injury and the decision to return him to play. Additionally, I ask that you reexamine the protocols in place and determine what changes can be made to improve them. I also urge you to establish penalties for violations of concussion protocols. Every concussion is brain damage and must be diagnosed and treated by appropriate medical personnel, who prioritize players’ health, safety, and well-being.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter, and I look forward to your response.


Bill Pascrell, Jr.
Member of Congress

Back in Ann Arbor, a petition is circulating for athletics director Dave Brandon's ouster. It will have passed 8,000 signatures by the time you read this. (A competing petition to keep Brandon in his current post has three. It's summary? And I quote: "I like Brandon. He's a nice guy.")

It reads: Dave Brandon is the current Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at the University of Michigan. He has held the title since 2010. Upon being named the Athletic Director, Mr. Brandon stated "athletic programs play [a role] in helping to shape the culture and image of our university community." Unfortunately, under Mr. Brandon's tenure, the football program, one of the most prominent programs at the University of Michigan and in the nation, has become a black eye for the University of Michigan. Instead of adding to the image and prestige of the university, the state of the athletic department has hurt the connection shared between alumni, fans, and the university. Furthermore, policies and decisions of the athletic department have alienated the current student body. As a result, the university risks producing a generation of alumni that are disinterested and disengaged. Finally, President Mark Schlissel previously stated that one draw of the athletic program is to provide an avenue for "public attention on to the other wonderful things that are happening on campus..." When the athletic department produces overwhelmingly negative media attention, it distracts from the main mission of the university."

On top of that, commenters on the popular blog site have organized a "Fire Dave Brandon" rally at 6 p.m. on campus. Students were also heard chanting "Fire Brandon" during the loss to Minnesota.

The ire of the Michigan fan base has fallen on Brandon rather than head coach Brady Hoke, although the tide has turned against both.

None of this is good for Hoke, but it seems the swarm of hornets has bypassed him in favor of his boss. Letters to the Big Ten commissioner, petitions to fire the AD, on campus rallies, that's ultimately out of his sphere of influence. What Hoke can control, though, and really topping off a long four days for Michigan: the 2-3 Wolverines are three-point underdogs at Rutgers on Saturday night.