The Michigan Wolverines have high expectations for their upcoming season after being voted the favorites to win the Big Ten Conference title in 2012 by the media, however their chances to live up to the hype may have been dealt a significant blow on Saturday night when redshirt junior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint was arrested on charges of operating a vehicle while impaired according to the SalinePatch.
Saline Police arrested Toussaint after making a routine traffic stop in downtown Ann Arbor. Toussaint, who started at running back in 11 of Michigan's 13 games in 2011, took a breathalyzer test and had a blood alcohol content of .12, which is over the state of Michigan's legal limit of .08.
"The officers could smell intoxicants on his breath," Saline Police Chief Larry Hinik said according to ESPN.com. "They had him take a PBT and ended up arresting him and brought him back here to process him. It was a cut and dry report. The nice thing is that he was very cooperative."
Second-year head coach Brady Hoke announced that Toussaint has been suspended indefinitely, which leaves the Youngstown, Ohio native's future up in the air for the time being.
"Fitz made a poor decision and has been suspended indefinitely because of that action," Hoke said in a statement released to the SalinePatch.
"There are expectations that come with being a football student-athlete at the University of Michigan and those responsibilities were not met in this instance. We will use this as an opportunity to educate Fitz and make sure he understands the high standards that we have established within our program."
Toussaint became the 31st Michigan running back to rush for over 1,000 yards in a single season by tallying 1,041 yards and nine touchdowns on 187 carries. In Michigan's final five regular season games, Toussaint eclipsed 100 yards in four of those contests. The Wolverines were 4-1 during that period.
I will not begin to speculate as to how long Toussaint's suspension will last out of respect for Michigan's coaching staff and the standout running back, but the more time Toussaint misses at the beginning of the upcoming season the less likely it becomes that the Wolverines will be able to win the Big Ten title.
Former Michigan wide receiver Darryl Stonum, who transferred to Baylor to play out his final season of eligibility, was suspended for all of last season by Coach Hoke after the Texas native was arrested on charges of drunken driving for a second time in May 2011.
Stonum was eventually dismissed on January 18th for violating team rules.
Seeing as how this is Toussaint's first offense I do not expect the 5'10", 195-pounder to be suspended for the entire 2012 season but this issue will not be taken lightly by Coach Hoke.
If Toussaint does miss any game action though sophomore running back Thomas Rawls would likely be Michigan's every down ball carrier with senior Vincent Smith continuing his role as a blocker and pass catcher out of the backfield in third down situations.
Coach Hoke also announced Monday morning that sophomore defensive end Frank Clark, who has been battling with Brennen Beyer for the starting spot at rush end after recording five tackles and an interception in Michigan's 2012 Sugar Bowl victory over Virginia Tech, has been and will remain suspended due to a second-degree home invasion charge.
"We are aware of the case regarding football student-athete Frank Clark," Hoke said. "This is a serious accusation and we will follow the lead of the judicial system. Frank was and will continue to be suspended pending the outcome of the investigation."
Kyle Meinke of AnnArbor.com reported via Twitter on Monday afternoon that Clark has been accused of stealing a MacBook Air from Stockwell Hall.
Clark's preliminary hearing is scheduled for August 2nd.
The loss of Clark would not hurt as much as losing Toussaint for an extended period of time, however the rising sophomore appeared in 10 games last season and losing him will effect Michigan's depth along their already thin defensive line.
More updates will be provided about both of these cases as they become available.
Zach Dirlam is the former Lead Editor of the College Basketball section as well as Big Ten columnist for the FOX Sports/MSN/YardBarker affiliate website Sports at Work. Check out his blog, Dirlam’s Dirty Dugout Sports Blog, which features this story, along with other articles and video reports on major sports.
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