A few disturbing reports have leaked from Ann Arbor throughout the last couple months, and it’s leaving many to wonder if the Michigan Wolverines have a serious problem with discipline off the field. In February, news broke of former kicker Brendan Gibbons being investigated for an alleged rape incident in 2009, and on March 20 we learned former offensive lineman (and NFL Draft prospect) Taylor Lewan is being charged with three counts of assault from an incident in December.
Both Lewan and Gibbons are well known for their time spent in Ann Arbor and have built up a great deal of respect among the many supporting fans. That’s what makes the news difficult to digest — these two men were supposed to represent what Michigan football is all about.
The nature of the mistakes made by these two young men takes it beyond the classic “everyone makes mistakes” excuse. That’s another large pill to swallow. This isn’t about missing curfew or getting caught with a beer. We’re talking about rape and aggravated assault.
Every team in America from high school and beyond deals with discipline issues. That’s part of the human element we admire so much. But this goes to another, disturbing level.
One of the main issues I have with this whole thing comes from the manner in which Brady Hoke handled Gibbons’ situation. Hoke told the media before the Ohio State game on Nov. 30 that Gibbons was out with muscle. And again leading up to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl less than a month later, Hoke cited family issues as the reason Gibbons was not with the team.
I won’t claim to understand the best approach to dealing with these issues as the coach of a major program at a respected university — neither should you — but I did not care for the way in which Hoke handled that situation.
Beyond that, though, we’re staring down the barrel of a much larger problem. As mentioned above, these two gentlemen were supposed to be representations of how things work in Ann Arbor.
It’s been scary to watch these events unfold, especially since they’re naturally compounded in the offseason. Though I can’t speak for the character and integrity of every player on that Michigan roster — there are few who can — I can confidently say the Wolverines have a couple large scars to patch up.
The best way to do that is by defiantly setting a standard and not allowing it to waver. I can imagine every player has the trust of Hoke until they give him a reason to think and act otherwise. This isn’t an issue concerning an individual, though; it’s an issue concerning the team.
I want a crackdown on this behavior, and I want it coming from nowhere else but Brady Hoke. That’s how you re-establish a diminishing perception, and that’s what Michigan is need of right now.