Video: Michigan's coach under fire for leaving QB in game after big hit

This new controversy is actually part of a larger controversy over football at both the collegiate and professional levels, which makes this incident even more surprising. Ever since the NFL began acknowledging the danger of concussions and continued play, both levels of the sport have taken steps to provide more protection to its players after big hits like the one seen here — especially when the hit leaves a player obviously symptomatic, as was the case with University of Michigan’s quartertback Shane Morris. He could barely walk upright after getting leveled by University of Minnesota lineman Theiren Cockran, and his own teammates waved at the bench to get the trainers out to look at Morris. Instead, Morris waved them off and ran one more play before heading off the field on his own — and left a lot of people wondering what head coach Brady Hoke was thinking by allowing him to stay out on the field at all:

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University of Michigan football coach Brady Hoke defended his team’s handling of quarterback Shane Morris, who stayed in Saturday’s game despite appearing dazed and wobbly following a vicious hit.

Morris, already suffering from a leg injury in the fourth quarter of the 30-14 loss, was steamrolled by Minnesota’s Theiren Cockran, sending the quarterback sprawling backward.

Morris flipped on the ground and grabbed his facemask. Upon standing, the quarterback appeared wobbly and shaky, leaning on a teammate for support. Despite being visibly dazed, Morris remained in the game for the next play – and even waved off someone on the sideline, possibly signaling that he wanted to play. He returned for another play later in the quarter.

Following the game, Hoke said he didn’t know Morris was wobbling and he made the decision to keep Morris on the field.

“I didn’t see it,” he said. “I can only answer for me.

“Shane wanted to be the quarterback, and so, believe me, if he didn’t want to be, he would’ve come to the sideline or stayed down,” Hoke said.

Hoke changed course Sunday, saying in a statement that only medical staff members can determine if and when an injured player can return to action. Michigan does not provide details about the health status of any of its players.

The game of football is violent, and there’s no denying that the controlled violence is part of its appeal — not just to fans, but to those who play the game, too. Those are the hits that make the highlight reels, especially on ESPN, and players like making those just as much as fans enjoy watching them. Everyone has an interest in promoting the pad-pounding action, and injuries come with the turf, so to speak.

That’s why it’s even more incumbent on all of the stakeholders to respond properly to a situation where a player may have been left dazed on the field from an obviously big hit. “Shane wanted to be the quarterback” is every bit as irresponsible as a President sloughing off blame for getting surprised by the rise of a terrorist army by claiming not to have been told about it by his intel group. Football players will only come off the field when in serious pain, and a hit like that doesn’t cause pain but confusion. It’s the responsibility of the team’s leadership to intervene in that case, to make the decision for the player when the player isn’t going to be capable of making a rational decision on his own. It’s very difficult to believe that no one on the coaching staff bothered to watch Morris after a hit like that and didn’t see him stumbling, especially when Morris’ teammates waved to get their attention afterward.

The game is violent enough without introducing unnecessary risk for permanent damage through carelessness or indifference. Hoke had the ultimate responsibility on the sideline to intervene at least long enough to get Morris out of harm’s way after that hit and his physical symptoms so that a proper evaluation could be made by the medical staff. Failing to do that was bad enough, but shifting the blame to Morris for not taking himself out of the game is worse.