Friday, January 20, 2012

Darryl Stonum Dismissed from Football Team

The Michigan football program announced on January 17, 2012 that wide receiver Darryl Stonum is no longer with the team. Stonum had been suspended from the 2011 season for a DUI charge. Stonum would have been a true senior in 2011 but was granted a redshirt by head coach Brady Hoke.

Stonum's redshirt will not come to fruition because he violated "team rules." It later became public knowledge that he had violated probation by driving himself to the probation office. Stonum was senteced to ten days in jail. has the story, but here's a quick snippet:
Stonum, 21, was charged with violating probation after being ticketed Thursday morning by Ann Arbor police for driving on a revoked license.

He was pulled over after stopping at a probation office downtown, where he lied to a probation officer, telling him that a female friend had dropped him off in the area. Stonum was charged with the violation because of the ticket and lie, said Stonum's probation officer, Steve Hill.

While Stonum admitted in 15th District Court today that he violated probation, he said he wasn't aware of any infractions on his Texas driver's license that would prohibit him from driving. Judge Charles Pope said Stonum will have to convince the court that he can continue in the sobriety court program.

"Nobody did this to you," Pope said. "You did this to yourself."

Officers led Stonum away and took him to a cell.

Pope said earlier that Stonum has had four alcohol-related encounters with the criminal justice system, which he called "extremely unusual" for someone Stonum's age, putting him among less than one percent of the population.
When initially asked about Stonum's status, Brady Hoke said, "Until we know everything, it hasn't changed." At the Michigan blog known as Maize n' Blue Nation, Brad speculated on the possibility of Stonum's permanent suspension and what it meant for the team:
Given the nature of these wrongdoings alone, I don't think they merit a dismissal from the team, but certainly the frequency of these mistakes and his decision-making ability overall signal a serious problem. Darryl has been a bright spot for this team when he has played, and I certainly don't want to see him go, but I wouldn't be surprised if that did happen.
Most Michigan bloggers agreed with this assessment. It seemed unlikely that Stonum would be dismissed from the team for driving to meet his own probation officer. Brady Hoke said that it was also important to hold players accountable for their actions, and Stonum's decision, while probably made with good intentions, was still a mistake. Upon reviewing Stonum's situation with the Ann Arbor courts, and the violating of probation, Hoke decided that it would be better if Stonum did not continue with the football team.

"I love Darryl and wish him nothing but the absolute best," Brady Hoke explained in a press release. "However, there is a responsibility and a higher standard you must be accountable to as a University of Michigan football student-athlete. That does not and will not change. It's unfortunate because I believe he has grown a great deal as a person since the beginning of the season. My hope is that maturing process continues."

So Stonum's status went from being in limbo to officially removed. For Michigan fans, this is a shame largely became Stonum's ability was being looked forward to at his position. Michigan will need a playmaker at wide receiver, and fans were hoping that Stonum (having sat out the 2011 season) would be that player.

Michigan will now have to pursue other options at the position, which is one of the Wolverines' deepest. They still have Jeremy Gallon, Roy Roundtree, Drew Dileo, and Jeremy Jackson, among others.

"I appreciate everything the University of Michigan, Dave Brandon and Coach Hoke have done for me," Stonum said in the same press release as Brady Hoke's. "I look forward to continuing my football career down the road, but more importantly, right now I'm focused on graduating from Michigan this spring. I understand only I am responsible for my actions. I'm sad about how all of this turned out, but I completely understand. I love this school and my team and will miss them all greatly. But I'll always be a Wolverine. I know I have grown and matured as a person over the last nine months, and I will continue to learn and grow every day. I want to thank everyone for all of their support, and I hope they will support me in the future."

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Michigan Kicks Off 2012 with Sugar Bowl Win

After watching Michigan's 23-20 overtime victory over Virginia Tech, if you thought that Michigan had a lot of the same luck as they did against Notre Dame—well, you'd probably be right.

Pretty much everything about this game that needed to be said has been said. Maize n' Brew (after a long hiatus) returns with an extensive recap of the game, in case you missed it. ESPN also posted highlights. The play that literally won the game was a field-goal kick by Brendon Gibbons in overtime.

When asked what was going through his mind when Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer called a timeout to ice him, Gibbons said, "Brunette girls. Every time we were struggling with the kicking, Coach tells me to think about girls on the beach or brunette girls. So that's what we did. Made the kick." This quote is sure to find its way into both Michigan football lore and infamy.

And, of course, Brady Hoke delivers some great words on the win.

Here are a few thoughts:
  • There were two or three moments that decided the game. All of them came in overtime, in the last minute of play. The first was the call that overturned Danny Coale's would-be catch in the endzone. The second was VT kicker Justin Myer's missed field goal. And needless to say the third was Brendon Gibbons' field goal kick. Each of these moments has equal value. If the call had not been overturned, Michigan would have had to go for a touchdown. If Myer had not missed the field goal, Michigan would have either had to go for a touchdown to win or make a field goal to send it into another overtime. And, obviously, if Gibbons hadn't made the field goal, Michigan and Virginia Tech would have played another round. This is exactly why college football overtime is so "sudden death." Those who say that Coale's overturned catch decided the game would be wrong. Michigan didn't win by default. They had to make a field goal. Because they did that, they won.
  • Seth at MGoBlog takes an objective look at whether or not Coale in fact made a catch. My opinion is that it was not a catch because Coale, despite great effort, did not have possession of the football. This Virginia Tech fan obviously disagrees. (Although, to be fair, there were plenty of VT fans who saw the play and weren't sure if it was a catch.)
  • Not having Rimington Award (Best Center) winner David Molk in the opening drive was huge. Molk apparently sustained a foot injury in pre-game warm-ups, and Rocko Khoury (Molk's backup center) went in and struggled to click with Denard Robinson. Khoury is slated to be Molk's replacement for next year, but he doesn't yet have any chemistry established with Denard that Molk took years to build. Khoury will be a senior and will undoubtedly be the starter—Michigan has no one else—and will have to master the role quickly over the offseason.
  • The general consensus even among Michigan fans is that Michigan did not deserve to win this game, and they got both outplayed and outcoached by Virginia Tech. I generally disagree with this. While the numbers are clearly not in Michigan's favor—on offense, especially, as Michigan only gained 184 yards to VT's 377—Michigan absolutely played their hearts out to eek out a win. Both David Molk and Ryan Van Bergen were playing with injuries. They would not be denied.
  • As for the "outcoached" thing, Frank Beamer's known forte of special teams was clearly not up to par. First, there is the instance where Beamer opted for a "punt option" in which wide receiver/punter Danny Coale faked the punt, ran, then tried to punt, and got tackled—resulting in a turnover on downs. Beamer admits this was a coaching decision. In the first half, after Michigan scored a touchdown to go up 7-6, Virginia Tech fumbled the kickoff return to give the Wolverines a chance to get more points within the VT forty yard line. That play wasn't ineptitude on Virginia Tech's part. Like they have done so many times this year, Michigan forced the fumble and swarmed to the ball. If there is a tangible difference to the coaching between 2010 and 2011, it is that.
  • I have nothing but respect for Coach Beamer. Virginia Tech fans should not be upset that he hasn't won a BCS bowl since 2008. For the past seven years, Beamer's Hokies have consistently had seasons of ten wins or more. Virginia Tech has gone to a bowl game every year for the last eighteen years. Beamer is a guy who runs a program the right way. He should never be in the hot seat.
  • This probably goes without saying, but it's kind of ironic that the two worst aspects of Michigan's gameplay (defense and special teams, kicking game) in 2010 would be the stopping power of 2011, and nowhere was that more apparent than the Sugar Bowl. We've said many times that Michigan's improvement has been exceptional. More importantly, Michigan showed that when the offense was stagnant, the defense could hold firm long enough for someone to make a play.
  • If there was one word that sums up Michigan football in 2011, it is "improbable." From the thrilling last-second victory over Notre Dame to the throttling of Nebraska to the clutch interception that sealed the deal against Ohio State, Michigan has taken a team that probably should have never been in the Big Ten and has become competitive despite obstacles and probabilities of defeat. The carry-over from Rodriguez's era is still apparent, but the coaches and the seniors and everyone involved in the Michigan football program won a lot of their games through sheer determination alone. The prospect of defeating Alabama come this fall is dubious at best, but at least the Wolverines have a lot more going in than they've had over the last three years—and that's a fighting chance.