Notebook: Remorseful Gordon returns from suspension

Terra Molengraff/Daily
Fifth-year senior safety Thomas Gordon had to watch Michigan’s opener at home while serving a one-game suspension. Buy this photo

By Matt Slovin, Managing Editor
Published September 3, 2013

Fifth-year senior safety Thomas Gordon addressed the media Tuesday for the first time since his one-game suspension that kept him out of Saturday’s season opener.

Gordon referred to Michigan coach Brady Hoke as a father figure and showed regret for his actions, which the program has only referred to as a violation of team rules. He learned that he would be missing the Central Michigan game through a conversation with Hoke some time in the last month.

“(Hoke) told me I let the team down, and I let him down,” Gordon said. “Me and coach Hoke have a great relationship. It was like a father-son talk. I knew what was going to happen.”

The suspension left the Wolverines without both of their starting safeties, as senior Courtney Avery underwent arthroscopic surgery last month that could also keep him out of the game Saturday against No. 14 Notre Dame.

Gordon was forced to watch the game at home in Detroit with family, away from the teammates he so badly wanted to lead in his senior season. And though it was incredibly frustrating to watch from a new perspective — he rattled off defensive schemes as his family watched him in amazement — Gordon said he had no choice but to understand why the decision was made. His status as a five-year veteran earned him no sympathy.

“It doesn't matter what type of player you are, especially in this program, there's not going to be one who is more important than the team,” he said. “That’s the message that had to get out.”

NERVOUS BORGES: In the now-iconic photograph of former Michigan men’s basketball star Trey Burke putting up a 30-footer with time winding down in regulation of the Wolverines’ Sweet Sixteen contest against Kansas, coach John Beilein is kneeling.

His right hand is tightly clenched. His eyes are fixated on the ball as if it could fall out of the sky any minute, ending his team’s tournament run.

Watching a 3-pointer in the air is exactly how offensive coordinator Al Borges said he feels sometimes when redshirt junior quarterback Devin Gardner drops back to pass. He’ll watch with baited breath as the read is made and hope for the best.

Last year against Notre Dame, all the hoping in the world wouldn’t have bailed out Denard Robinson, who threw four first-half interceptions in the 13-6 loss in South Bend. Borges is hoping his offense can learn from that disaster and improve the game plan for Saturday.

“Denard took a lot of figurative and physical hits in that game,” Borges said. “They weren’t all easy, pitch-and-catch throws. That tells us we’ve got to take care of our quarterback. That’s part of our planning, too.”

KELLY RECANTS: Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly began his press conference Tuesday by changing his position from a teleconference Sunday, when he said he didn’t consider the series with Michigan to be a “historic, traditional Notre Dame rivalry.”

Kelly said he would like to “dispense with the nonsense,” adding that the rivalry is “great and historic.”

Since Kelly’s comments on Sunday, Hoke has repeatedly said Notre Dame is a great rival and even said Tuesday that he hopes for the sake of college football that the series continues one day.

Hoke has previously stated that the Fighting Irish are “chickening out” of playing Michigan. Notre Dame opted out of the series for 2015-2017, the last scheduled games between the two schools.

NOTE: Borges said fifth-year senior wide receiver Joe Reynolds is “going to be fine” after suffering an apparent leg injury in the game against the Chippewas. Reynolds scored his first career touchdown, and Michigan’s first of the season, on a 29-yard punt block that he took back for a touchdown.