This past November, a tragedy came to light at Pennsylvania State University so horrific that the NCAA issued a severe punishment. The head coach and several high-ranking administrators stayed silent when they knew about Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse of young boys. After the NCAA deducted future scholarships from the Penn State football program, current players were given the option to immediately break scholarship agreements and transfer from the program without being forced to sit out a year. These players now must decide whether to stay at their school or continue their football careers elsewhere. University football coach Brady Hoke stated that he will not recruit or accept any Penn State football players, and this is a smart decision that will maintain the University’s distance from the Penn State tragedy.
On Friday, the Big Ten held its annual preseason media days to discuss the upcoming football season. Hoke stated, “It really is a situation that we’d rather stay out of.” The current Michigan football team has a chemistry that he doesn’t want to disrupt. Hoke added that he wants to let the Michigan team handle its own business and let the Penn State players handle their business at their university. Conversely, other coaches from various schools were open to accepting former Penn State football players.
Penn State University suffered a monumental tragedy, and the University doesn’t need to exacerbate the situation in any way. While it is understandable that the players would want to leave and have the opportunity to take their talents elsewhere, Michigan should stay completely isolated from the situation. The entire Michigan community — especially the football team — empathizes with the Penn State football team, but distance is needed in this situation.
The Michigan football team has been working toward this upcoming season since the Sugar Bowl ended in early January. Building character, developing plays and generating a winning team for the 2012-13 season are Hoke’s goals for his team. Adding new players this late in the off-season would disrupt the camaraderie of the team, especially as players arrive fresh from a tumultuous experience at Penn State.
The Michigan tradition and the process of becoming a Michigan Man is instilled in these young men the instant they step on campus as freshmen. It’s important that Michigan respects other schools and continues the Michigan tradition. Penn State is facing a very intense punishment — taking players away from their team would be contradictory to the tradition on which Michigan prides itself. Hoke is widely displaying respect for both Michigan and Penn State by maintaining the culture of his football team and not interfering with the Penn State situation.
Hoke did admit that there are some talented players on Penn State’s team that could help Michigan’s team, but transferring them from Penn State to Michigan is not worth the cultural sacrifice of the team. “No man is more important than the team,” Bo Schembechler famously declared in his 1983 speech called “The Team”. Michigan isn’t a place that sacrifices its culture and tradition for success.