4th & 18: Michigan Football, Finding the Cost of Victory


Brian Heissenbuttel, Managing Editor

The University of Oregon, The Ohio State University, Florida State University, the University of Southern California, the University of Alabama: These schools are often recognized for their fantastic football programs and near certain victory on the field. The success of their school is determined by the numbers on the scoreboard and the shiny trophies in their cases. Is it safe to say that these football programs will do anything to win?

The University of Michigan, despite their lack of success this football season, is often included in that group of competitive football programs. Last Saturday, their head coach Brady Hoke came under even more fire than usual, when he and the coaching staff pushed sophomore quarterback Shane Morris back onto the field after he showed symptoms of a concussion earlier in the game. Granted, Michigan really wanted to start off their conference schedule with a win and keep Hoke off the hot seat. However, concussions are serious injuries that must be taken seriously. Even if Michigan won, it does beg the question: Is it worth it?

It is not as if this is the first time injury has been cast aside in the name of football. John Elway made it into the history books when he dove over the Green Bay Packers for the touchdown in Super Bowl XXXII, despite the fact that sliding short of the goal line would have been far less risky. However, medical personnel are taking more and more action to keep players healthy and help the injured players heal as quickly as possible. Very few players, such as Brett Favre in his later years, would put opinions of the medical staff aside to play.

Nowadays, young athletes are being pushed further and further in order to get a shot to play at the college level or the pros. They start training a lot younger, they play more often, and they work far harder than the athletes before them needed to. They are trained by the sports on television that true heroes in the game line up under center when their bodies are damaged but their will to win holds strong.

Throw a coach on the verge of losing a fantastic coaching position in the mix and what is left is a Michigan football program that is endangering the lifelong health of their quarterback. For what exactly? For the little brown jug that the University of Minnesota ended up winning.

So now it is time to reconsider the questions: How far are athletes and coaches willing to go in order to win a game? What is the true cost of victory?