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Posted on Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 1 p.m.

Michigan football fans: Brady Hoke's decision not to recruit Penn State players is a tricky issue

By Nick Baumgardner


Michigan football coach Brady Hoke has decided not to recruit current Penn State players, a stance fans seem split on. file photo

After getting pasted with sanctions by the NCAA last week, every player inside the Penn State football program technically became a free agent.

Illinois sent eight coaches to State College for recruiting purposes, and star running back Silas Redd reportedly hosted USC coach Lane Kiffin for an in-home visit on the same day that PSU boss Bill O'Brien fielded hundreds of questions about his program's future in Chicago.

Most coaches seemed to have differing philosophies on how to handle the issue of recruiting current athletes on the Penn State roster, but Brady Hoke's seemed to be a bit different.

The Michigan football coach left little up for debate. He and his staff discussed the situation, and came to the conclusion that they'd be staying out of the raid on PSU players altogether.

"It's not our personality," Hoke said last week in Chicago.

Hoke, who reached out to O'Brien in the wake of the scandal's aftermath, said he made a philosophical choice to recuse his program from the situation entirely. Even if a player reaches out to the Wolverines, Michigan won't be interested.

Good idea? Bad idea?

Michigan fans seemed to be split on the matter.

Some argued that Hoke was preaching a double-standard after accepting a commitment from former Penn State pledge Ross Douglas, and urged Hoke to reconsider his stance.

  • GoBlue1984: "So he won't take current players, but he will poach recruits… so classy!"

  • truebluefan: "It's not our personality"? What does that mean? I don't think there is anything ethically wrong with fielding a phone call from a current PSU football player. If they are interested in going to Michigan, they meet the academic standards, and they fill a need on the team, then why not?! These are kids that want to better their situation. Why not help them out? I don't agree with Hoke here. Dantonio has the right approach.

  • local: If these student athletes are looking for a place to play competitive football with the opportunity to play for something, Brady needs to take another look at this. Michigan is about opportunity and these kids are getting punished for something they had know part of. These guys just want a chance to play football and get an education along the way. I think if they call and inquire, Brady should allow them the opportunity at least to discuss the "why Michigan?" I am guessing we are talking about a few kids, a few who want to be part of a better program with opportunities they will miss out on at Penn State."

Others, meanwhile, completely backed Hoke's decision, agreeing with his take that team chemistry is a major issue here. And, furthermore, by accepting new transfers, it would limit Michigan's scholarship numbers for future recruiting classes.

  • tim: It hurts (morale) in any organization if you don't promote from within --- You put in years of work to be part of the line up only to have your job taken away from a transfer. Good move coach Hoke, (you're) teaching the kids that hard work pays off and that you care about your players.

  • Terry Star21: Brady Hoke is correct on that issue. Just like his 'zero-tolerance' policy of Michigan commitments visiting other schools -- they be gone! Being the nations best head coach, Hoke sets the highest standards of ethics for Michigan football that other coaches fail to. It is true, there was a Penn State 'commitment''. He 'decommitted' from the school on Monday after the NCAA ruling. On Tuesday as a free 'recruit', he contacted Michigan. Michigan will only talk to high school recruits and not current players -- and sorry outsiders, "That is the Michigan way".

  • Scott: Gotta say I love that Hoke isn't doing what (Lane) Kiffin is. And he is right about team chemistry and morale. If Redd came in and displaced (Thomas) Rawls would that be right? Rawls has done everything he could to earn that spot. The arrival of Douglas in 2013 is in no way unethical or disruptive to our team morale.

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan sports for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.


Ron Granger

Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 1:04 p.m.

Why are some so worried about what team they join? I thought they were in college to get an education and the sports were secondary.


Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 11:17 a.m.

A Class decision by Hoke. It is a proper Michigan step towards Penn State's rehabilitation.

Robert Granville

Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 9:08 a.m.

Brady Hoke works for the University of Michigan. He is not responsible for athletes at any other university. He is not penalizing PSU students by accepting no transfers. He is building a tremendous football team with players who choose Michigan and never look back. How can anyone blame him?

Paul R Lamse

Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 8:58 a.m.

Just because Coach Hoke doesn't wear jackets in bad weather, doesn't mean nor imply that he doesn't think it's ok for others to. This is his personal stand. No more, no less. I respect it!


Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 8:10 a.m.

It's funny how emotional some people get over this decision. Also, some, like SEC Fan feel the need to make snide comments every chance they get and wonder why they get down voted, just comical. Anyway, I'm happy with Hoke's decision, look, a recruit who hasn't enrolled in a school and switches his commitment is not the same as accepting a transfer, anyone who tries to convince you differently is either not very smart or intellectually dishonest and neither is a good trait. It is becoming very apparent that Hoke is a much better human being than most of us are and can only aspire to be and for that he is either extremely respected or is envied and begrudged.


Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 5:44 a.m.

Eh, #1 Hoke already has the first or second ranked recruiting class in the country and #2 he recognizes the possible distractions which might happen if current players are brought in to change the team WHEN the team has already given all their effort and loyalty to Michigan. So why then would he think he needs MORE (and not necessarily better) players on his Team 133? If I were on this Michigan team, I'd be taken back by the news that completely new players at positions already spoken for and earned were coming from PSU. I think Hoke is putting THIS Michigan team first in his thoughts and that's what his players expect and believe. And as usual (to his unending credit!) Hoke is metaphorically saying: Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead - BECAUSE THIS IS MICHIGAN. Besides these other vulture-style coaches might be too cocky, thinking that any good player from PSU will just somehow automatically fit into the new team and program. There's also the matter of what the PSU players are thinking about their classes and instructors: will the new school have as good instructors and "feel?" I'm sure some will adjust without trouble but other players, perhaps key players, will likely have difficulty -- especially if they're not going completely of their own volition.


Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 1:38 a.m.

I like Hoke's position on this. I don't like the NCAA's actions. First they are inferring that the football players and team should not be penalized for what Sandusky did, (and those that covered it up), and that the football players should be able to go anywhere without penalty. However the NCAA is hurting the players, the team, the coaching staff, by letting every other school invade the Penn State Campus and go shopping like its a Blue Light Special. Mixed messages here. Go ahead and keep their portion of the Big Ten bowl revenues for a spcial victims fund, vacate wins (as if that fixes anything for the victims), and tear down Joe Pa's statue if that makes you feel all gooey. The TEAM won those games with dignity and hard work. The team didn't cover anything up. Those who covered it up should be in prison!!! That's my biased opinion.

Paul R Lamse

Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 9:17 a.m.

It's PSU's campus. Do they have to let "foreign" coaches in? Just asking?


Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 1:32 a.m.

Classy move by Hoke. I am with you 1000% Hoke!!!! Recruits are a different matter. They have note signed a letter yet and therefore not under contract. Dumtonio shows no class being willing to talk to them. Basically once he made that comment to the press it was like an open invitation to poach. The total lack of class at moo u continues. Thank the good lord we have the ever classy Hoke who is a cut above. A true leader and the best.


Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 12:07 a.m.

what nobody is saying is that there is no room for any of their players, our incoming class already has 23 recruits, we're expected to have 25 at signing day. I know that we can have extra players this year if we accept PSU players but then we have to reduce our scholarship count by the same amount the next year. There just isnt any room for them, even if we wanted them.


Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 11:32 a.m.

No Blue Marker. Players taken now are only uncounted for 2012 and count against the 2013 class. so "ty" is correct.

Blue Marker

Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 1:51 a.m.

ty, I believe Michigan can take on a "current" PSU player without it counting against any total. So, like USC Michigan could take Redd without any effect on your current class.


Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 11:26 p.m.

Good call Hoke! I don't like the idea of guys that have suited up for PSU coming into our program. I presents a chemistry problem that we just don't need. Ain't worth it!


Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 12:55 a.m.

Chemistry problem? As if Penn State doesn't recruit the same kids Michigan recruits. What, because they chose Joe Paterno over the unstable coaching situation we've had for the last few years they're automatically not good kids?


Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 10:45 p.m.

I guess my screen name is famous now. Nice!

Steve McQueen

Wed, Aug 1, 2012 : 5:43 a.m.

pride before the fall my friend ;)


Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 10:20 p.m.

As many of the readers have pointed out there are two sides to this issue: helping a Penn State player is one side, while the other is doing what is best for your own team now. Hoke is going to be facing a big test right off the bat in Dallas, and I, for one, think it is best that he has no possible distractions within the team as they travel down to Dallas. Trying to incorporate a player from such a controversial school is bound to be a distraction at this point to the players, no matter how good the player is or how much he would help the team theoretically. When they travel to Dallas there cannot help but be a an additional sense of team solidarity that comes from Hoke's decision not to make any player have to fight for his position with a person that not one can help considering an outsider. This makes this issue very different from ever accepting a regular transfer student who would come with much less baggage that a player from Penn State would bring. Also, for that wonderful philosopher, Goober, I fail to see how this in any way illustrates the so-called arrogance. Rather it just seems like really practical decision to help his team be the best prepared, spirit-wise, it can as it makes the trip to Dallas.


Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 8:46 p.m.

Bad Idea Michigan! If a player is giving up on Penn State can you blame him? If he's been given the green light and he wants to play for another school shouldn't he? It's a win win if you ask me. By keeping you door open you could help a player who has been hurt by Penn State's disaster and if adding a particular player helps your team why not do it? "There's is no I in team"


Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 5:25 p.m.

Michigan has no obligation to these players. They made their choice and through circumstances outside of their control, it ended up being the wrong choice. That makes it a sad story, but it doesn't create a responsibility for Michigan to fix it.

Paul R Lamse

Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 9:13 a.m.

Ok, so let him choose "another school". It requires both elements to agree. He wants UM, UM wants him. Hoke doesn't want him (for whatever reason).


Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 1:53 a.m.

Football is a team sport. Hoke has indicated that there are NO PSU players on the roster that would help the team. So this is not a bad idea.


Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 8:03 p.m.

Hoke is doing a very classy thing and soon going to be known as "The Dean" of the BIG.


Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 8:03 p.m.

Hoke could have went with the masses, but chose his own, less popular path. I like that....and so did Robert Frost.......... TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same, And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. ----- Robert Frost


Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 7:54 p.m.

its arrogance. Pure UofM arrogance!


Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 7:47 p.m.

Penn State deserved to be punished for allowing the culture that lead to what happened there. But I think it's really wrong for other schools to benefit from those punishments, and I'm proud that coach Hoke has taken this stand. I'd like to believe Michigan is a classy program and winning doesn't trump everything. All football programs should learn a lesson from what happened at PSU and clean up their acts before something so awful happens anywhere else.


Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 7:42 p.m.

Then, does this put Michigan out of the business of accepting any transfers? I respect Brady's decision, however, it will present difficulties going forward in terms of when you do, and, when you don't, accept transfers. In my estimation, this puts him totally out of the business of ever accepting transfers. Just seems to me that PSU is totally ripped apart as it is--keeping or losing players at this point is largely academic in the 10 year future of the program, and, therefore, I would like to see the current PSU players get every opportunity to finish up having fun--at Michigan, OSU, USC, MSU or wherever they choose. That's what the NCAA intended when they made the ruling. There is no comparison between what the players are going through and what Sandusky put his victims through, however, the players are victims nevertheless. While much less egregious, there unfortunate situation should be redressed by allowing them to transfer to the program that best fits their situation.

Paul R Lamse

Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 9:08 a.m.

Possibly, if it was from a non- B1G school? Different circumstances, different answer maybe. But I think UM never took a JuCo "transfer", did they? (Not really a transfer, to me.)


Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 1:51 a.m.

Hoke's decision presents no "problems" going forward. THe PSU is a one time thing, hopefully never to be repeated, and has no bearing on future decisions.


Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 7:39 p.m.

I think it's awful the way some of these football programs are circling around Penn State like buzzards. I'm glad Michigan is taking this approach. At the same time, I'd have no problem if a current PSU player wanted to come here and we had a spot for him. I understand Coach Hoke has decided that situation is a land-mine and just wants to stay away from it. But, if these players don't want to be a part of the mess in State College, you can't penalize them for wanting to use up their eligibility somewhere else.


Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 5:13 p.m.

Agree that you can't 'penalize' these players, but don't agree that Michigan is doing that by not allowing them to come here. Some of them may have had the option, prior to going to PSU, but THEY chose not to take the offer at the time. Michigan is not responsible for their decision or giving them a 2nd chance.


Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 6:29 p.m.

I think taking a verbal commitment is a way different situation than actually taking a player that PSU has enrolled, trained, fed, suited up, etc. Though these players are caught in the crosshairs of an NCAA mandate against Paterno and its program, I don't think it's right for the Big Ten to assist in PSU's demolition. Recruits who have not actually written anything? They are a bit more fair game, especially if they are the ones who initiate contact. But to actually take the personnel that are at PSU away? That just smells, and I think Illinois should be ashamed of itself. Let's not pile on, big ten.


Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 6:06 p.m.

TerryStar is FAMOUS now!

Paul R Lamse

Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 9:03 a.m.

He was always famous to me. But we sense your sarcasm. That's why the down.


Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 1:30 a.m.

ahhh...come on. you guys love Terry...what's with the down vote :-)

Ron Granger

Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 6:03 p.m.

Bringing existing Penn St. players into the program would be a huge distraction for the team. You want your players to CHOOSE Michigan, not settle for Michigan. Also, you want them focused on the MICHIGAN WAY, not comparing notes on how it differs from the Penn St. way. Or wasting time on the inevitable talk about the Penn St. program, violations, etc.


Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 5:07 p.m.

1998pa, theway...this is about loyalty to existing players, not fit, not potential distractions. Those who stay, will be champions! Not: Those who transfer from Penn State, will be champions.

Ron Granger

Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 1:02 p.m.

"If you don't think the coaching staff is good enough to coach through..." That's just an effort to spin this into a Michigan insult. The coaches shouldn't need to worry about such a distraction. The chatter about all things penn st - savory and otherwise - would likely be disruptive to the team. The coaches should be focusing on the game, not managing penn st. gossip. There would be on-going media attention on the former penn st players. Where do they fit in? When will they play? Will they bump Michigan players out of the line up? It would go on and on and on. Those aren't things any program wants to talk about or dwell upon. I feel bad for the kids but it isn't Michigan's problem. They will find homes at schools. And in the end, isn't it about their education and not sports?


Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 1:48 a.m.

1998pa It's not about handling transfers. It's about fit. The coaches apparently (based on their comments) see no one on the PSU roster who fit the needs of the Michigan program. Adding an athlete to a program is a two way street. The athlete decides he want to play for you program and the coaches decide they want the player.


Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 12:53 a.m.

If you don't think the coaching staff is good enough to coach through "an inordinate amount of attention" (as you put it) that a couple transfers would command, then you don't have much faith in the coaching staff.


Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 11 p.m.

@1998pa, Every single one of the new players would receive an inordinate amount of attention. I see no benefit to bringing that baggage to the Michigan program. It is not the transfers fault, but it is part of the deal. It would be like saying you were a top employee at Enron. I really would not see that as a positive.


Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 6:20 p.m.

if the program can't handle one, two, MAYBE three transfers, it's got bigger problems. i don't think michigan would collapse because of a couple players. and do you really think the players walk around all day like mindless zombies, "MICHIGAN WAY, MICHIGAN WAY, MICHIGAN WAY." You do realize Penn State had a pretty successful football program in spite of the off-field scandal, don't you? Disgusting behavior by some individuals does not disqualify everything positive others in the program have accomplished over the decades. Are you actually picturing some transfer who decided they wanted to play for Michigan getting into MICHIGAN WAY-PENN STATE WAY fights with Wolverines who have been there all along?


Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 5:59 p.m.

Why is this being rehashed again??? Significantly different situation regarding Douglas who UM initially came in 2nd with. He is still in high school and has not signed anything. How is Douglas' coming to UM comparable to a current scholarship player being recruited??? It is not. Move on and find something to report on.


Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 4:55 p.m.

1998pa, that's not correct. The difference is the opportunity that would be taken away from a current player (potentially) that chose Michigan first. Hoke is simply not looking for an experienced player that chose another school to come in and compete with Michigan players. I think he is sending the rights message to his players and fans.


Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 6:12 p.m.

they're both free agents in the eyes of the ncaa, a2roots. that's how the situations aren't different.

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 5:58 p.m.

"Hoke, who reached out to O'Brien in the wake of the scandal's aftermath, said he made a philosophical choice to recuse his program from the situation entirely. Even if a player reaches out to the Wolverines, Michigan won't be interested." That to me seems a bit like he's implying these kids should stick it out a Penn State no matter what. I know that is not what he said but it seems the net result anyway. if the the NCAA says they can leave without penalty I think he should have been open to at least consider requests on an individual basis.

Robert Granville

Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 9:03 a.m.

So if Michigan won't take them, there aren't any other options? I'm confused..


Tue, Jul 31, 2012 : 1:44 a.m.

Based on comments made in a smaller interview, Hoke seems to believe that there are no players currently on the roster (as opposed to recruits yet to see campus) that are a fit for Michigan. It's not a matter of individual request or the NCAA, there is no one there that is a fit.

Ricardo Queso

Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 5:25 p.m.

Still does not pass the smell test.


Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 5:58 p.m.

Haha... sounds funny coming from "Ricardo Queso". The old, old middle schooler in my just never grew up I guess.


Mon, Jul 30, 2012 : 5:23 p.m.

Poaching a current player feels different to me than accepting a recruit who already decommitted. Hoke's position seems like the moral high ground to me; I respect this call.