Hoke Makes Right Call by Suspending 3 Players Prior to Outback Bowl

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Hoke Makes Right Call by Suspending 3 Players Prior to Outback Bowl
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Brady Hoke set a great example by suspending three players prior to Outback Bowl.

Although the details of the suspensions aren't particularly clear at the moment, it's safe to say that Brandin Hawthorne, Will Hagerup and J.T. Floyd don't deserve to play for the Michigan Wolverines in the 2013 Outback Bowl against the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Michigan coach Brady Hoke absolutely made the right call by cutting short the trio's season. While the suspension effectively ends Hawthorne and Floyd's careers at Michigan, it was inherently necessary to do so in order to make a statement—one which Hagerup should pay close attention to as he heads into next season.

"It is an honor to play football for the University of Michigan, and we have high standards and expectations for everyone that represents our program," Hoke said via a written press release. "These young men used poor judgment in each circumstance, and these suspensions are teaching moments for our team."

Foggy statements surrounding circumstances that lead to suspensions are nothing new. In fact, Hoke is one of the best at being as vague as possible, so it's fair to say that the specifics won't be readily available any time soon.

Floyd had his ups and downs in 2012, but he helped anchor a Michigan secondary that was, at one time, the country's best against the pass in terms of yards allowed (Wolverines finished second behind Nebraska).

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Hawthorne wasn't a starter, but he also had moments of respectable play while spelling those in the Wolverines' linebackers corps.

Hagerup's absence, perhaps, will be the most difficult to deal with. He was named the Big Ten's Punter of the Year and was a vital piece to Michigan's special teams operations.

Sitting two starters says a lot. Instead of covering up the issue and waiting until after the New Year's Day date with Gamecocks to take action, Hoke set the tone with a stern punishment. That's a sign of a coach's desire to run his program the "right way," even if it makes winning more challenging.

 

How does suspension impact Outback Bowl's outcome?

Courtney Avery will reportedly start in Floyd's absence. Avery, an Ohio native, was inconsistent most of the year but showed promise. The junior may lack speed, but he often made up for that deficiency with a sturdy tackling prowess.

Dennis Norfleet was moved to the secondary so he could fill in and add depth to the group of defensive backs.

Michigan/South Carolina will be a game of field position. Hagerup gave the Wolverines the ability to defend a long field. South Carolina can score with the best of them. With Hagerup on the shelf, it'll be interesting to see how Michigan fares in the field position war.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Brandin Hawthorne has a moment during Michigan's season-opening loss to Alabama.

With Floyd out of the mix, Avery has to feel the extra pressure that's being placed on him. Throw in Norfleet, and the Wolverines secondary now becomes a mish-mash of available players. It's funny how one person can throw an entire unit of players for a loop.

But that's what Floyd did.

South Carolina's Ace Sanders and Bruce Ellington could end up wreaking havoc if not contained. It's important that Michigan addresses the need for continuity in wake of the team's decision to sit players due to poor behavior/choices.

Michigan could find itself in a predicament if the pair of Gamecocks receivers exploit a now-depleted Wolverines secondary.

 

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Hoke shows grit and character during frustrating time for Michigan

Let's face it, the Outback Bowl is a must-win for Michigan. Beating the Gamecocks could skyrocket Michigan's confidence heading into 2013. And while a win over an SEC power would bode well for the program, Hoke's decision to bench two starters should be seen as an excellent move.

Of course, that move decreases Michigan's chances of winning, but South Carolina also suspended players.

Winning is everything, and Hoke understands that—but he also understands the value of running a team that abides by institutional rules and regulations.

In this case, Hoke had no choice but to set an example, even if it means cutting short Hawthorne and Floyd's tenures in Ann Arbor.

 

 

Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

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