Brady Hoke did the right thing.
In suspending Fitzgerald Toussaint and Frank Clark, the second-year Michigan coach not only set and made an example at the start of the 2012 season, he sent a message - illegal behavior won't be tolerated, and consequences will be had. Toussaint's suspension comes three days after he pled guilty to a charge of operating a vehicle while visibly impaired; Clark's suspension comes 12 days before he has a court hearing for a second-degree home invasion charge.
The media that regularly cover the Wolverines asked at every player and coach availability: "What's the status of Fitz Toussaint and Frank Clark?" At one point in the preseason it felt as if we were beating a dead horse, but the media is obligated to ask that question. Today, everyone got an answer. Neither Toussaint nor Clark will play tomorrow. In fact, they'll stay in Ann Arbor for the weekend.
The speculation that led up to today's announcement was polarizing; some were in the camp that Toussaint and Clark should play regardless of their transgressions (a win-at-all-costs mentality, per se), others were in the camp that Toussaint and Clark should stay home. But if you go with the former, what kind of message does that send? That you're rewarded if you break the law? That if you're a star player, you're exempt from the rules?
Toussaint became a focus after a 2011 season in which he broke out as one of Michigan's marquee running backs, with 187 carries for 1,041 yards with nine touchdowns. But on July 21, Toussaint ran a red light in Ann Arbor. And got pulled over. And blew a .12 when he took a Breathalyzer test.
Toussaint had different avenues in front of him (literally and figuratively). He could have called a cab. He could have walked. He could have decided not to take a drink. Instead, he got behind the wheel after having a few drinks, and put other peoples' lives at risk, as well as his own.
"They are good young men who made poor choices," Hoke said in a statement released Friday afternoon by the Michigan athletic department.
When I read that line, I thought of what Denard Robinson talked about when he addressed the ballroom in July at the Big Ten luncheon: Choices.
And what is Hoke impressing now? Consequences.