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Posted on Wed, Oct 28, 2009 : 4:27 p.m.

Rich Rodriguez talks about Boubacar Cissoko's dismissal

By Dave Birkett

Rich Rodriguez had a simple message for his players Tuesday after dismissing Boubacar Cissoko from the team: “It’s a privilege, not a right" to play football at Michigan.


Boubacar Cissoko

"On and off the field there’s certain rules they have to follow and players understand that,” Rodriguez said. “It’s never pleasant to have to do this, but as I told the team, all I do is enforce the decisions that they make. And as a coach, that’s our responsibility.”

Cissoko, a sophomore cornerback, was kicked off the team after violating unspecified team rules for the second time this year.

He served a two-game suspension earlier this month, returned in limited action last week against Penn State, and had a track record of being tardy for practice and meetings.

Cissoko also had two run-ins with the law since arriving on campus last fall. Last year, in the early-morning hours after Michigan’s 35-21 loss to Michigan State, he was cited for an alcohol violation. When he failed to pay a $250 fine, a warrant was issued for his arrest.

In June, Cissoko was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge stemming from a traffic incident in Detroit. He was punished internally by coaches, and the charge was dismissed Wednesday.

“I think there’s a lot of times young men make mistakes, particularly early in their career, and you hope that they learn from them and you discipline them when they do that,” Rodriguez said. “Depending on how serious it is, you make a decision as a coach or as a program how far you go with your discipline.”

“You try to help them in the future if they learn their lesson and do the right things, and that would be the case in this. If he gets right academically, does what he’s supposed to do, hopefully he can continue his career elsewhere.”

Troy Woolfolk will make his fourth straight start at right cornerback this week against Illinois, Rodriguez said, and Michigan (5-3, 1-3) has no plans to take the redshirt of prized freshman J.T. Turner.

Sophomore J.T. Floyd, true freshman Teric Jones, a former high school teammate of Cissoko’s at Detroit Cass Tech, and converted receiver James Rogers are the top backups.

Depth at cornerback “was an area of concern coming into the season, and it remains so,” Rodriguez said. “We can address it in recruiting, which we will of course. And we will address it with the players that we have right now, which we’re trying to do.”

Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.



Thu, Oct 29, 2009 : 1:08 p.m.

These problems often begin in the High Schools. The kids allowed to much leeway while in high school by their parents, coaches and school administrators.


Thu, Oct 29, 2009 : 7:55 a.m.

Hey blj, I'd say a starting cornerback on a team lacking depth at his position IS a pretty key player. RR made the right decision.


Thu, Oct 29, 2009 : 4:36 a.m.

Rodie, I can tell by your name calling that you are somewhat defensive about the comment regarding Tate. The truth does hurt doesn't it?


Wed, Oct 28, 2009 : 6:38 p.m.

I made a lot of mistakes when I was young, too. Hopefully Cissoko learns from his and doesn't regress further without football to fall back on. I think RR made the right decision, though. You can't let things slide with an individual who has had repeated violations and then hope to enforce any type of discipline with the rest of the team. It was a tough lesson not only for Cissoko, but for the rest of the team as well. Break the rules and there will be a stiff penalty. Keep breaking them and you're gone. I agree wholeheartedly with MjC, though, in that the school should have someone to help guide him through this tough time and help get him back on track. This is a University, after all, and a great learning opportunity for Cissoko in his life moving forward.


Wed, Oct 28, 2009 : 6:22 p.m.

Young men make mistakes, I did. Lots of them. I didn't realize till years later I was acting out and not thinking about my future. I hope he gets it together, he's only a sophomore.


Wed, Oct 28, 2009 : 5:36 p.m.

What about Tate driving with a revoked drivers license and getting picked up? No team rules for the key players.


Wed, Oct 28, 2009 : 5:19 p.m.

The number of good defensive players that have washed out or transferred in the last 4 years is incredible. It's one of the main reasons the defense has no depth and not enough upper classmen. Unfortunately, this is going to take time to fix. Hopefully, the offense will carry us for the next few years!


Wed, Oct 28, 2009 : 4:46 p.m.

I also hope this kid can get it together and on the straight and narrow. I do know that Michigan has been good with letting athletes keep a connection with the school. It goes unreported by the news but Michigan helps several players that leave early obtain their degree. Juwan Howard is one such player. Of course, Cissoko is on his own for the money now. If he can get financial aid and make the same academic progress expected from the rest of the student body, I'm sure he'll be allowed to stay in school. But, as the other poster mentioned, a lot of these guys are here for football so I'm thinking he's going to try his luck at another school.


Wed, Oct 28, 2009 : 4:09 p.m.

Rodriguez made a tough decision - and the right one. But does anyone know what happens to these kids once they're dismissed from the football team? Can Cissoko continue his academic studies at the UM, or is that also a done deal (loses a scholarship, etc.)? I suppose he's here to develop a career in football, but these kids are so young and little do they know how quick a football career can end. I hope there's counseling available and someone points this kid in the right direction.