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Michigan’s Hoke Just Made Texas A&M’s Sumlin Look Bad

Hurricane Isaac provided Kevin Sumlin with an early test of his brand of discipline at Texas A&M.  Compared to the action taken today by Michigan coach Brady Hoke, Sumlin failed that test.

A&M’s new coach had initially suspended starting linebacker Steve Jenkins and backup defensive back Howard Matthews for his squad’s season opener with Louisiana Tech.  But when Isaac hit Louisiana and the Aggies’ Thursday night opener with Louisiana Tech in Shreveport was postponed, Sumlin backpedaled faster than a corner at the NFL combine.  Instead of sitting Jenkins and Matthews for A&M’s opener — which will now come against Florida in College Station — the coach decided to delay their suspensions.  They’ll still miss the LaTech game… on October 13th.

Sumlin has not opened up about what those players did to deserve their suspensions, but if it was bad enough to miss the opening game, why alter that plan just because the opener will now be against a better foe?  Is that really teaching a lesson to those players and to the team as a whole regarding discipline?

Apparently Michigan’s Hoke would think not.  His team will face Alabama tomorrow night in what most are viewing as the game of the week in college football.  The Wolverines will try to beat the defending BCS champs without starting running back Fitzgerald Toussaint and backup defensive end Frank Clark.  Hoke made the call today to suspend his players today.

Toussaint pleaded guilty to drunk driving on Tuesday.  Clark stands accused of stealing a laptop computer from a dorm room.  Maybe those actions are worse than whatever it was Jenkins and Matthews did to land in Sumlin’s semi-doghouse in College Station.  Maybe not.

Either way, Hoke comes out looking tough on crime while Sumlin looks rather weak.

“The decision was not easy, but I feel it is in the best interest of this program and for these kids, and that will always be my priority,” Hoke said in a press release.  “We have choices every day, and you have to be accountable to this program, your teammates, your family and the University of Michigan.”

Hoke also added: “It’s not always just about football, or a football decision.  It’s about teaching life lessons, and if this helps these kids or someone else make a right decision later, then we’ve won.  That is ultimately what we are here for, to help them grow and mature to become better sons, fathers, husbands and members of society… They are good young men who made poor choices, and we will continue to support them as members of our team and family.”

Big advantage: Hoke.

That said, the reality — sadly — is that if Jenkins and A&M beat Florida next week and a Toussaint-less Michigan gets clocked by Alabama tomorrow, Aggie fans will approve of Sumlin’s backtrack and Wolverine fans will question Hoke’s choice.

That’s too bad.  Because in cases like these, if you’re going to have discipline you shouldn’t pick and choose when it will be meted out based upon your upcoming opponent’s skill level.  Sumlin is hardly the first coach to go that route, of course.  But we at would be a lot more impressed if he’d stuck to his guns in this matter, his first true test as Aggie head coach.

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