Starting running back Fitzgerald Toussaint and a potential starter at defensive end, Frank Clark, were both left off the travel roster after getting into trouble during the offseason.
Toussaint, Michigan’s leading rusher a year ago, was arrested for driving while intoxicated. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of operating a vehicle while visually impaired.
Clark, an up-and-coming player on Michigan’s defense, was charged in July with second-degree home invasion, a felony. He has yet to be arraigned.
In the weeks and days leading up to the game, Hoke remained mum on the status of those two players. It wasn’t until late in the week that he made it public that he was suspending Toussaint and Clark.
In addition, Hoke’s punishment of the two young men include them not being able to sing the school’s fight song, “The Victors,” and having to refer to Ohio State by its full name (instead of Ohio, which has become the trend in Ann Arbor) for a full year.
Let’s be honest: Michigan was not going to beat Alabama with or without Toussaint and Clark in the starting lineup. The Wolverines could have added Charles Woodson, Tom Brady and Tyrone Wheatley, and they still probably wouldn’t have beaten Alabama.
Still, it took a lot of guts for Hoke to bench two starters — including one of the most important players on the team in Toussaint — for a game that received as much hype as the Wolverines’ showdown against Alabama.
The coach made it crystal clear that players aren’t going to get a free pass under his watch. They’re held to a standard higher than most others; because, as Hoke put it, playing football at the University of Michigan — or at any other big-time college — is a privilege that has to be earned.
We applaud Hoke for his gutsy call to suspend these two players, and would hope that other coaches would make the same call when facing similar situations. These are life lessons to the young people involved — and with Hoke taking the hard stance, these two young men learned that they’re certainly not above the law, and will almost undoubtedly be better people in the future because of their coach's decision.
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Liz Stuck and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.