"While it would be great to have Darryl on the field this season, we feel it is in his best interest and the best interest of our program for him to redshirt, Darryl will continue to be an important part of our team and family. He has done everything we have asked him to do, but our number one priority is to help Darryl grow as a person."The above quote is from a release today regarding Darryl Stonum's redshirt for the 2011 season. This move has been widely praised by Michigan fans and I think there are several reasons for it.
1). It sets up nicely that it shows that Brady Hoke is not putting winning at any cost as the raison d'être of the Michigan football program. This will please a not insignificant portion of "The Clans" who are big on "doing things the right way."
1a). It sets up nicely to do a little relativistic recruiting. To wit:
- Brady Hoke redshirts a player for a year after his second DUI offense.
- Brian Kelly reinstates a player without missing any game time after his third alcohol related offense.*
- Mark Dantonio...well, OK, do we need to run the list?
2). It speaks to the accountability of the players to the team as a whole, which means that the players on this team know that they will be held accountable to the staff and to one another. It's a bold opening gambit, but one that only means something if it is the consistent line going forward. Coach Hoke has to know that this sets the tone and in setting the tone, he will be measured against this, but if he believes what he is doing is right, then it should not be a problem.
3). A redshirt senior Darryl Stonum will now, theoretically, line up at wide receiver in 2012, the year of the killer schedule, with a senior Denard Robinson at quarterback. This is not a bad thing.
4). This is the closest I will come to moralizing on this blog, but here goes: A DUI is nothing to brush off. Statistics will tell you that alcohol related issues on college campuses around the country are a significant problem, one which should be taken seriously. It might be easy to say that one DUI is a mistake, an indiscretion, a youthful moment of bad decision making which can and should be learned from. The fact that this was Darryl Stonum's second DUI offense during his tenure at Michigan means that he did not learn his lesson the first time and tougher measures must be meted out. If this means that Darryl Stonum learns a lesson from this incident, that's great and that's the best that can be hoped for, but more importantly, if this means that someone else Darryl Stonum's age (or anyone, really) maybe reconsiders driving under the influence because of what happened here, then more's the better.
Honestly, I am a little more upset about the Hagerup suspension for the first four games...not because Hagerup is suspended for a violation of team rules, that's fine, it's that Hagerup was JUST suspended for the Ohio State game last year for a violation of team rules and now he's suspended again for a violation (whether the suspensions are for the same violation remains to be seen, and we likely will never know) means that he did not necessarily learn his lesson. Now Michigan will be without a punter who averaged 43.6 yards a punt last season for its first four games, which, yes, is the non-conference schedule, but still a critical period. It is likely that Matt Wile, in addition to being held up as the savior of the kicking game will now also need to take on punting duties. It's a lot to put on a freshman and I hope he is able to make the transition. But more importantly, I hope that Will Hagerup gets his head on straight, realize that he's hurting his team, and will come out of this better and stronger. (By the way, I really hate to say this right now, but this is where I will really miss the sheer crazy of T-Force, I mean, he has perfected the Brian Griese Tribute pooch punt. Imagine, if you will, Forcier is back there as "the punter" for the first few games, and now, during the Western game, Brady Hoke decides to run a fake punt pass play like he's calling a game on NCAA 12. Even if it doesn't happen again, you're making the opposing teams think you will do it. Of course, since Brady is from the Lloyd school of playcalling, all of the good crazy plays will stay in the back of the playbook until the bowl game.)
I sort of look at today's announcements as an extension of the family metaphor. I'm the oldest of three kids in my family, and I screwed up, relatively speaking, my fair share. I had my fair share of "talking tos" and I spent most of my teenage years having extended discussions and debates with my parents because we did not agree about my decisions. My siblings, who are 18 and 33 months younger than I am respectively, told me that they learned a ton from me when I got in to it, because they saw that I didn't get anywhere in arguing, other than perhaps extending out the final decision and perhaps making it worse.* If you're a younger sibling and you're smart, you learn from the eldest kid and gain "wisdom" from their mistakes. If the Michigan football family learns from the poor decision making of Stonum and Hagerup and T. Robinson, then every member of the Michigan football "family" benefits, and we, as Michigan fans, by extension.)
*-Update: Further research (read MGoBlog) points out that Stonum failed to do his probation work on DUI #1 and went to jail for it, whereas M. Floyd's three alcohol related offenses are two MIPs and a DUI, so it's not apples to apples.