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Posted on Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 6:30 a.m.

What the Fitz Toussaint and Frank Clark suspensions mean for the Michigan football team

By Kyle Meinke


Fitz Toussaint had a breakout season last year, but currently is suspended after a drunken driving arrest.

Melanie Maxwell |

Every college football team gets nicked up by the law now and then, and Michigan is no different.

But those nicks have started to pile up this offseason -- and over the weekend, the Wolverines absorbed a significant blow when starting tailback Fitz Toussaint was arrested on a charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

That's a serious offense, and he was indefinitely suspended from the team. It's not like damaging a parking gate, which receiver Jerald Robinson allegedly did in February, or sliding across the roof of a car while drunk, as defensive lineman Will Campbell did in April.

Robinson and Campbell each faced destruction of property charges, which surely landed them in coach Brady Hoke's dog house. But their football-related penalties likely will end there.

Not Toussaint.

The gravity of that crime called for him to be suspended, and Hoke wasted no time doing it. The coach hasn't yet disciplined a player for a first-time drunken-driving charge at Michigan, but general precedent suggests it would be surprising to see Toussaint play in Michigan's season opener against Alabama.

The Crimson Tide, by the way, not only won the national championship last year, but did so fielding the nation's best defense -- and the nation's best defense against the run.

In fact, they allowed just 72.2 rushing yards per game, 10 fewer than No. 2 LSU. They haven't been outside the top 10 in rush defense since 2007.

That was expected to provide an intriguing strength-on-strength matchup in Dallas, after Michigan's highly effective rushing attack produced two 1,000-yard rushers last year for just the second time in school history.

Dual-threat quarterback Denard Robinson returns for the Wolverines, but now Toussaint's status for the nation's most-anticipated opener is uncertain -- a blow for a team already favored by oddsmakers to lose by double-digits.

Instead, Michigan could end up turning to senior Vincent Smith, who was serviceable last year as Toussaint's backup, but his strengths are in pass-protection and pass-catching, not rushing.

More likely, the Wolverines would call on Thomas Rawls if Toussaint's a no-go. The budding sophomore has consistently drawn the praise of coaches since arriving on campus last summer and had a break-out performance at the spring game earlier this year.


Frank Clark, shown after making an interception in the Sugar Bowl, was suspended after being charged in June of second-degree home invasion.

Melanie Maxwell |

Yet, despite his immense upside, Rawls has logged only 13 career carries. Going up against the nation's reigning No. 1 rush defense, with new starting offensive linemen at three spots, isn't exactly how coaches envisioned breaking him in.

Both options are a dip from what the Wolverines would get from Toussaint -- and Michigan can't afford it against Alabama.

What happened last year when Toussaint didn't play? When he was hurt against Notre Dame, Michigan's tailbacks combined for 10 yards. When he rushed just two times against Michigan State, the tailbacks combined for 44 yards.

In all the other games, Michigan tailbacks averaged 146.0 yards per game, and Toussaint averaged 94.0 himself. He finished strong, too, eclipsing 100 yards in four of the final six games.

But it appears increasingly likely he won't have a shot to extend that run against Alabama.

Meantime, Michigan could also be without sophomore defensive end Frank Clark, who is suspended after being charged in June with second-degree home invasion. He is accused of stealing a MacBook Air laptop from a campus dorm.

Clark isn't a star like Toussaint, but he is considered a serious contender for the starting job at weak-side defensive end. And considering Michigan's anemic depth up front, he likely would play a lot even if he loses the job to Brennen Beyer.

Again, it's unclear whether Toussaint or Clark will miss game time -- although both likely will if convicted.

Factor in the loss of Darryl Stonum, a record-setting kick returner and projected starting receiver who was dismissed for driving on a suspended license (after two drunken driving arrests), and it's possible Michigan will be without two starters and a key reserve/starter against the defending national champs.

And then there are the minor legal blips for other starters such as defensive tackle Campbell (MIP, destruction of property) and receiver Robinson (destruction of property).

That brings the total to four projected starters, plus Clark, who have had legal run-ins this offseason -- a troubling string of off-the-field incidents that could come to hurt Michigan on it.

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 4:32 a.m.

Anyone who thinks these guys will miss a down vs Bama is crazy! They'll run stairs for days, have to do community service for months, clean lockers, carry bags, etc..... But they won't miss game time. Big money always wins. A loss to Bama could cost Michigan millions of dollars when it comes down to Bowl selection time. BIG MONEY ALWAYS WINS. If don't think so, see USC, Ohio State , Miami, Flordida State, etc. And if you still need proof, See Penn State. Money over Morals, every time.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 3:09 a.m.

Sad. Both these guys need to be suspended for a year. Most DUIs have driven drunk MANY times before they get caught, and need treatment. Treatment can work, if people want it to: but it takes time. Fitz will be missed but that's how it is. As for Clark, there is not enough information here as to whether this was a "bad choice" or an indication of deeper character defects. Sorting this out will also take time. Too bad.

Thomas Jones

Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 8:11 p.m.

Means we RUN With the PSU GUY!!! BOOM

Chad Williams

Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 7:11 p.m.

This is the perfect scenario to show what Michigan is all about. We all hear the we have high standards we arent the sec blah blah. Now i seen people comment about other schools and there issues with players breaking the law. We have that in our home and how Michigan punishes these players will show what this school is all about. Are they about wins or integrity?


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 10:56 p.m.

@Pillow...what about the previous 5 arrests (this year)? oh yeah...nothin...


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 7:29 p.m.

Both are suspended indefinitely pending the final reports / disposition of their cases. For now, that's the most that you really expect anybody to do.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 6:22 p.m.

Set the bar for policies and make everyone aware of it and abide by it. If a school wants to win at all cost then it is almost impossible to set the bar and abide by it unless the policies in place are weak and enforcement lax. Win at all cost is the main culprit and history will continuously repeat itself unless schools take a different view about win at all cost.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 11 p.m.

Hoke set the bar months ago when the first 5 arrests occurred and he did nothing. That "bar" is buried about 6 feet underground!


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 5:04 p.m.

One of the fine contributors here has stated "I think on all NCAA teams if you are arrested for breaking the law you should be eliminated from the sport for good". Certainly if you apply that logic to the coaches as well Michigan would be without one of the most successful college hockey coaches of all time.

Kevin Shabinski

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

Jeez goldenblu, two identical MSU comments in an article that has nothing to do with MSU: Somebody has a MSU jealousy issues.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 10:59 p.m.

yeah yeah yeah...we all know um wants the rules applied to everyone BUT them. what about all these um players? would ya'll really have "banned them"? Please...


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 9:50 p.m.

Apply the rules and let the chips fall where they may.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 9:29 p.m.

Goldenblue, I think State might be able to field a team however, Carr's 2001 team would be hard pressed to find enough players without arrests to put a competitive team on the field.

Terry Star21

Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 9:25 p.m.

Bob, you're still Michigan State Penitentiary - and always will be.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 9:12 p.m.

If that was the case msu wouldnt field a team.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 4:44 p.m.

I do not buy excuses Robert Granville and I refuse to furnish these players with them. If they can't abide by the rules then they need to go. This should be at all schools where scholarships are handed out and a free education provided.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 4:12 p.m.

I know it is hard to admit but the U of M has a problem. Hopefully they get it under control.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 3:48 p.m.

Clean this up for sure! Just saw that USC is going after a Penn State RB. Perhaps we should do the a tasteful way.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 6:15 p.m.

There is no tasteful in, poor taste.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 2:30 p.m.

4% not 8%! Still, I get your drift. Needs to be cleaned-up and Coach Hoke needs to do the right thing.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 2:27 p.m.

Does anybody know if Fitz has a redshirt to burn? Kyle? That would be a good nugget to include in the above analysis.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 5:13 p.m.

yes, he was redshirted. GO BLUE!!!


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 4:42 p.m.

Thanks RJ!


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 2:33 p.m.

I believe he was redshirted already.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 2:10 p.m.

Perhaps there is something in the state's water...U of M and the Lions seem to be infected with something.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 2:30 p.m.

infected with low integrity


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 2 p.m.

I think Fitz should be benched for the year. A DUI is very serious, and a mandatory benching for a year is necessary to serve as a deterrent. It's a crime that is just too liable to someone to get seriously hurt or killed. A mandatory stiff penalty is best for the players and the public. As for Clark - stealing is a stark sign of low moral character. Yes, yes, driving under the influence is bad. But artificially impaired judgment leads you do to it. And often the driver does not feel impaired at all. He may hurt someone, he may not. In most cases, he do not - often by shear luck. But stealing is, to me, more of a sign of low moral character (except for the repeat DUI offender). There is no question you are going to damage someone. You are choosing to do so. I say kick Clark off the team if he is found guilty.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 9 p.m.

Agreed. In most enlightened societies (Japan, France, Germany, Switzerland) for example. Theft is considered a completely anti social act. Total disregard for the rights of others. The kid who had his computer stolen probably was paying tuition- unlike Clark. Should be thrown off the team.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 2:17 p.m.

Agreed. Zero tolerance for these types of behaviors. Breaking team rules and breaking laws are worlds apart.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

I'm glad to see the hard line and the suspensions. That's how you stop the program from from unraveling.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

Well I don't know about you guys but I'm proud of these Rich Rod recruits. Go Blue!


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 11:53 p.m.

Clark was recruited by Hoke. And yes, thank you 7718, the team chock full of RR recruits went 11-2 and won a BCS bowl. I'd say those guys are doing pretty darn good.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 11:14 p.m.

yes, you should be. They won the sugar bowl.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 7:27 p.m.

Isn't Clark a sophmore?


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 1:23 p.m.

I am against kicking these players off the team. Given the transparency these days and the examples these student athletes need to set, suspensions are in order. Overreaction is not good. Fitz Toussaint has a more serious situation but he can learn from this. The tailback depth chart is in good shape without Fitz for now. I trust in Thomas Rawls, Vincent Smith, Justice Hayes and maybe Drake Johnson. Frank Clark should be back soon. Brady Hoke has to make it clear what the penalties will be. Senior leadship is important but when a senior, Will Campbell has a scrape in the law, then where do you start?


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 10:55 p.m.

Typical "mich man" talk. "kick them bums to curb" when it's any school other than ummmm. Oh...but let 7 um players get arrested in 6 months...then it's "I'm against kicking them off the team"....oh I so love the hypocrisy. But hey, that's michigan "men". more like little boys crying on the playground! Brady Hoke showed months ago that he would let this kind of stuff slide (he's a true mich "man") many comments were made about the previous arrests where Hoke did NOTHING. so it keeps going. Ya'll all like to say how ole Urban had so many criminals playing for him. Well, in 6+ years he "only" had 31 players arrested...that's only 5 a year! Now, before ya'll start cryin (lyin)'s the specifics of all players arrested under Myers' reign in Florida and what HE did about them: 1 year in the job...7 arrests in 7 this the "greatest coaching staff in football"? yeah...can't wait for this season. um goes 8-4 at best. and blames everyone else for not "playing fair"....waaaaaaaaaa


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 8:55 p.m.

"Fritz...can learn from this". Did Darryl Stonum ever learn? a 4 year scholarship wasted and everyone was wishing him well as he went off to a freebee at Baylor. What did he do but shaft the university, his team and teammates. It's like he was a victim or something. Fritz will have the same sentiments thrown his was. Needs to mature. Comes from a tough neighborhood. His drinking and running red lights is a disease not a character defect. Only in America. Land of me first.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 2:07 p.m.

If guilty, Clark will be a felon. No felon should be allowed to don the maize and blue. If he is guilty, he has to be removed from the team. It's a privilege to play for Michigan. I'm seeing this as a crossroads moment for Michigan. We can follow the lead of other schools who are tolerant of law-breaking, or we can be Michigan. Breaking team rules is tolerable, breaking the law isn't. Support Michigan to live by a higher standard.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 1:11 p.m.

And the RR legacy lives on. I wonder how many recruiting classes before these problems start cropping up at the University of Arizona.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 11:18 p.m.

There have been problems for many years, you may not have read about them on the Internet in the past, but there have always been problems. You can't pin this on RichRod.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 3:46 p.m.

This is a human problem (and it doesn't matter who recruited them anyway). They are all Hoke's players, just as they were RR's players the day he started. That's the way it goes.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 1:19 p.m.

If you actually followed recruiting you would know that Frank Clark was recruited by Brady Hoke.

Robert Granville

Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 12:24 p.m.

This happens at schools across the nation during the off-season when the coaches cannot lead the players. I think it's about time those rules changed. What is Hoke to do if he can't work with the players? It's up to them and their senior leaders to reign this in until fall camp starts.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 8:47 p.m.

Add a greater emphasis to character in recruiting. in the end we'll have better teams. What have we really gotten out of Stonum, Clark, Touissant, Jerald Robinson, Josh Furman, on the field. Only Touissant had a good season. The rest have just sucked up scholarship that another kid could have used. Will Campbell is just lazy. I don't see his offense as much more than drinking and being huge.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 5:10 p.m.

pickforddick...Judge Roy Bean had a similar attitude. Stomping on lives of young people with a righteous indignation can do a lot more damage than leniency. I agree that these men need a kick in the rear, but I don't think a shot to the head helps much.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 4:43 p.m.

I do not buy excuses Robert Granville and I refuse to furnish these players with them. If they can't abide by the rules then they need to go. This should be at all schools where scholarships are handed out and a free education provided.

Robert Granville

Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.

I'm speaking strictly in terms of prevention/leadership for players not arrested. Punishment obviously falls to Coach Hoke and the justice system for Fitz and Clark. Pickfordick you're not addressing the situation logically. Your call for a no-tolerance policy demonstrates a lack of understanding about the lives these athletes lead and the stresses they're under. You couldn't possibly fathom it. No-tolerance policies never have worked anyway... for anything.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 12:36 p.m.

Senior leadership is there to push the guys to work harder in practice and to urge players not to drink in the first place. Now that laws have been broken, it is beyond the senior leadership to help them. If being a Wolverine is a privilege, these players should lose that privilege. Neither of the two player should be at fall camp.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

The coaches are not chaperons.....these athletes need to take on some responsibility of their own and learn how to function in society. If they are given a free ride to a better education (which is what this is supposed to be about) then they need to comply with the law. If they can't then take all the freebees away. Time to set examples not excuses.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 12:14 p.m.

Suspend Frank Clark until his case is concluded, and, if he is guilty, should be removed from the team. As for Toussaint, a DUI is serious business. He shouldn't see the field this year. Suspend him for the season. No slaps on the wrist at Michigan.

Terry Star21

Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 9:23 p.m.

Agree. Great comment.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 8:41 p.m.

Agree 100%. stealing the other kids computer is absolutely ground for dismissal from the team and loss of scholarship. Touissant shouldn't see the field this year. Stonum screwed the university out of a 4 year scholarship doing nothing but disrupt the team- now he's on a free ride at Baylor. They need to start giving character tests to every recruit, investigate their past and don't offer scholarships to some of these kids. Michigan isn't a reform school.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

You say that as if you're talking about actions that would be new. Clark is already suspended, pending the outcome of the case / investigation. Toussaint was already suspended indefinitely on Monday morning, which was all that made sense pending getting all of the information from police / court documents.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 3:45 p.m.

Agree completely. Somebody above says that the drinking and driving thing should be amenable to education: That is true, but by now, shouldn't he know that? He is 22 yo? Did he not pay attention to his high school SADD and MADD prom spiels? Or Daryl Stonum's DUIs? How much more education do these guys need?


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 12:08 p.m.

I think on all NCAA teams if you are arrested for breaking the law you should be eliminated from the sport for good. It is time to start having these young athletes be examples to other young men and women and being arrested is the wrong example. Let's have a NO Tolerance System and clean this mess up.


Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

an arrest is very different from a conviction. no tolerance based on arrests would be really unfair.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 5:20 a.m.

I see your point pickforddick; however, the no tolerance system would have prevented many great men and athletes from succeeding. Young men need to learn the hard way, but they do deserve a second chance in my opinion. The incident could of been worse for Fitz and he needs to understand that because someone could have gotten hurt or killed. Frank Clark's situation...there has to be more to it. Nobody walks in a dorm and takes something unless they know the person. But, we will see. The no tolerance system is good for certain ethical situations, but it wouldn't be fair to not give young men a second chance to redeem themselves.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 12:41 a.m.

I respectfully disagree, Pickford. These are college age kids, and we adults on this forum are looking at through adult eyes in which many of us have already learned our tough lessons. We see what many of these players have done and think, "They should know how stupid that is." Most of them do, but until you've lived through a stupid decision or been around long enough to feel it's effects, it's hard to know how truly stupid it is. Remember, college is about teaching and learning. Simply kicking someone off of the team is punitive...suspend the player, let him think about what he did wrong and learn from it and, if the situation warrants, give him a chance to overcome and be a better person moving forward. If they make a similar mistake again, as Stonum did, THEN you kick them off. I believe in second (but not usually third, and certainly not fourth) chances. It's college...teach them and see if they learn.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 9:03 p.m.

pickforddick That would mean msu wouldnt have a team.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 5:05 p.m.

Dick..."if you are arrested for breaking the law you should be eliminated from the sport for good. " Really? Arrest and conviction are the same thing? You want a kid's future to be decided by some cop who claims a kid did something wrong, and without even having an arraignment or trial, he's gone for good. Sound like a fair deal to me.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 2:50 p.m.

@ArthGuinness, Being removed from a team does not ruin a life. Stonum was kicked off and ended up at Baylor, he'll be a-okay. If Toussaint would have hit someone due to his impairment, he really could have ruined someones life, or stolen it completely.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 2:37 p.m.

No tolerance is a synonym for no discretion. Meaning nobody is allowed to use their brains. You really think somebody goofing off and sliding across a car Dukes-of-Hazzard style really should have his entire life ruined? I beg to differ.

Robert Granville

Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 2:18 p.m.

Don't we have a no tolerance policy for illegal drugs, underage drinking, weapons in schools, etc? Those work great!!! /s


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 2:15 p.m.

I agree. to hell with the individual. Up with society and our obligations and responsibilities


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.

@pickforddick Toussaint was born on May 4, 1990 which makes him 22 years old. Look before you leap buddy.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 1:24 p.m.

@Jason.............You are right....they are kids...not of drinking age....if they want to be athletes they either learn the law or go on with their lives doing something else.....stop making excuses for them...the law is their for them to obey.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 1:21 p.m.

@Pickforddick, these are kids. Are you telling me you never did anything stupid when you were 18-20? Toussaint made a dumb mistake getting behind the wheel of a car. There needs to be more education on what to do in that situation. He has the entire team to support him and he could've made any number of phone calls for a ride. Campbell was another dumb drunken mistake but hardly worthy of much punishment. Clark on the other hand has a more serious problem. Doubt he'll get kicked off the team but that's a big first strike.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 1:19 p.m.

Why is it not realistic? We must put a stop to these kids breaking the law because they have been allowed to get away with it in the past. I truly believe if there was a no-tolerance rule we would see very little of this happening. We can not afford to keep rewarding these kids with million dollar pro contracts when they break our laws.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 12:18 p.m.

I understand your frustration, Pickford. Really, I do. But you're throwing the baby out with the bathwater by instituting that kind of rule. Not to mention, it's not a realistic possibility.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 11:43 a.m.

8% of the UM roster is in trouble with the law. Hoke needs to clean this up... now.

I like Chicken

Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 11:03 a.m.

Sounds like MI should borrow PSU's new NCAA advisor for awhile.