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Published: Friday, 8/17/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

COMMENTARY

Hoke should sit Toussaint vs. Alabama

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST

Idle thoughts from an idle mind, wondering why after just 20 perfect games in major league history, three more have been accomplished this season. What's the mathematical probability?

■ It's a coin flip as to whether we should believe Michigan coach Brady Hoke when he said, in reference to running back Fitzgerald Toussaint's indefinite suspension possibly extending to the season opener against Alabama, "I haven't made that decision, and I probably won't make that decision for awhile."

Maybe Hoke is waiting for Toussaint's court date on Aug. 28, four days before the 'Bama game. Maybe strings are being pulled. We'll see. Otherwise, this should be a no-brainer.

Toussaint was arrested for drunk driving in late July after running a red light. This is not peeing in an alley. He's lucky a van filled with kids wasn't pulling through the intersection on a green light when his Ford F-150 went through on the red.

Michigan exceeded all expectations a year ago by going 11-2 and winning a BCS bowl game in Hoke's first season. Toussaint's 1,000 yards rushing, especially his late-season production and the pressure and physical punishment he took off quarterback Denard Robinson, was a big part of that. As a result, expectations are sky high for 2012.

There are three scenarios, though, any of which are realistic. The Wolverines could suffer as many as four losses against an awfully tough schedule -- Alabama at a neutral site, at Notre Dame, Michigan State, at Nebraska, and at Ohio State to highlight a handful. Or they could win enough of the latter three to play in the Big Ten title game. Or they could win all of them to play for a national championship.

Shooting for the big crystal trophy would likely call for a win, or at the minimum an inspired bid, against defending champion Alabama, and solving the Crimson Tide's vaunted defense would figure to be much more challenging if Toussaint is in street clothes.

When Hoke announced the other day that Toussaint and defensive end Frank Clark -- he's charged with lifting a laptop from someone else's dorm room -- had been reinstated for practice, he said, "Believe me, they have paid a heavy price and will continue to pay a price for actions unbecoming of a Michigan football player."

It may have been Toussaint's first misstep with the law, but DUI is a big misstep and the price, in his case, should include a suspension against Alabama.

If the schedule fell otherwise and the opener was against Air Force or UMass, teams UM faces the following two weeks, we wouldn't be having this discussion. You know it, I know it, Hoke knows it.

Just because the game is bigger doesn't mean the price should be smaller.

■ It's nice the Mud Hens released their 2013 schedule on Wednesday. It gave us something to think about besides the Tigers' Triple-A team wrapping up the worst of three straight losing seasons.

■ Hard to tell what the ownership change in Cleveland will mean for the Browns. For all the grief Al and Randy Lerner took for the team's failures to win, financial commitment was never the problem.

■ Don't be surprised if ex-Toledo Rocket Barry Church starts at strong safety for the Dallas Cowboys. An undrafted free agent in 2010, Church is having an excellent camp and has ascended to No. 1 on the depth chart.

■ I think Church's former team at UT will win eight games this season. Bowling Green will win seven. Toledo will win a close heads-up meeting. Neither will play in the MAC championship game. Both will go to bowl games. How's that for turning three months of games into one paragraph?

Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: dhack@theblade.com or 419-724-6398.



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