By: Jeff Riger
I admit it, even though it’s pretty obvious.
I attended the Michigan Signing Day press conference on Wednesday afternoon solely because I was hoping Brady Hoke would talk about expelled kicker Brendan Gibbons. I couldn’t care less about recruiting, and if the Gibbons thing was not out there, I would have remained in my Livonia home, wrapped up in a blanket in my basement watching the latest episode of “Justified.”
It was only worth my time if Hoke was going to address the former kicker.
Sure, Hoke issued a statement about Gibbons on Monday when a small, select group of media was invited to talk to the coach for the first time since the Wolverines lost to the Wildcats in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in early January. At that press briefing, Gibbons was discussed briefly, but not everybody was asked to come. In fact, there were several radio members, TV media and writers a lot more important and respected than me that never knew Hoke was going to chat.
The guy had been silent for 5 weeks plus; don’t you think people would be interested in what he had to say?
But, Michigan didn’t care.
The school even failed to invite “The Michigan Daily,” the student run newspaper that actually broke the story about Gibbons. Go figure! These kids do a heck of a job working and breaking a story and for an award; they get their access revoked, at least for a day. Now Michigan claims nobody was left out intentionally, and that the people, who showed, requested interviews weeks ago. Forgive me if I don’t buy it.
Of course there was an alternative! Michigan could have sent out a press release to everybody that usually comes to Wolverine football related events and talked about Gibbons then. Go in front of the media, answer the questions that you can, don’t comment about what you can’t and put the entire thing behind you. This way, Wednesday would have truly been about the kids and not about a player with a history that has dated back to 2009.
So as I walked into the presser yesterday, I knew it was only a matter of time before the first “Gibbons related” inquiry would be thrown the coach’s way.
“Brady, when did you become aware of the investigation into Brendan Gibbons” a reporter inquired about 3 questions into the press conference. Hoke replied “you know I put a statement out on Monday!”
What a cop out.
He wasn’t asked if he lied about Gibbons, who Hoke claimed didn’t play in the Ohio State because of a muscle issue and the bowl game because of a family issue.
He wasn’t asked why Gibbons played a mere 3 days after a letter was sent to the kicker’s house indicating a preponderance of evidence was found by the school.
He was simply asked when he found out about the investigation. Why not answer it?
The tone of the presser turned back to recruiting until another media member inquired about general thoughts about the Gibbons investigation. Hoke went with a typical “I don’t know” for his response this time.
I felt like the Gibbons issue was dead at that point, it seemed like the remainder of questions were indeed about recruiting; go figure.
But then Drew Sharp from Free Press grabbed the microphone and gave everybody a reason for coming out.
“In the last six weeks your program has had to change offensive coordinators, you’ve had the Gibbons affair which everybody at the University is very reluctant to talk about and there also seems to be a growing sense of the outside about the direction of this program?” Sharp asked. “How challenging of an off season has it been for you considering this is the first time in your three years here that you’re taking a little bit of heat?”
Hoke danced around the question the best he could until Sharp felt the need to follow up.
“Does it worry you though that you guys refuse to talk about the Gibbons affair that some people think that this University is trying to hide behind something?”
Hoke responded “that’s your opinion!”
No Brady, that’s everybody’s opinion and you have done nothing to make people believe otherwise.
The media was allowed one more question after Sharps, it was not Gibbons related. However I was able to grab a microphone and Michigan gave me the last word. I figured it would be the last word on Gibbons as well.
“Don’t you think people, because there is so much interest, that people deserve more than just a statement” I asked.
Hoke replied “in my opinion, did I give you a statement?”
Not knowing if I was supposed to answer Hoke’s question or not, I did…
“Yes, so obviously that’s it” I replied.
And it was!
Hoke never answered and just like that the presser was over.
Seems like the Michigan we used to know is over too.
-A 7-6 season
-Getting pounded by MSU…again
-Questions about if the school president talked to a stadium full of people intoxicated?
-The firing of an offensive coordinator
-Holding a press conference to announce the new offensive coordinator, a presser where the head coach doesn’t talk but the Athletic Director does.
Wonder what’s next? I’m thinking it isn’t going to be good.