“College football is a business. New coaches have to win games. They want to go with guys they think can win. If I’m a victim of making room, so be it. But if there is no concrete reason to disqualify a player, he should have the right to keep playing.”’
That was the simple, yet powerful, quote from Michigan defensive lineman Ondre Pipkins in an eye-opening ESPN story, in which Pipkins accuses Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff of mishandling his medical case this offseason.
Pipkins has battled through injuries his entire career and earlier this year he left spring practice after suffering the second concussion of his collegiate career. Still, he said that personal physician said he was prepared to play.
The Wolverines staff simply didn’t see it that way.
According to the senior defender, head athletic trainer Paul Schmidt and associate athletic director Jim Minick asked him about 10 times over a two-month period to sign a medical scholarship form that would have ended his career.
“Schmidt told me, ‘Call it quits. Hang it up.’ He said, ‘You’ve had a good run.'”
An official statement from Michigan said the program only had Pipkin’s best long-term health interests in mind.
In this case, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle of both accounts. Still, when Pipkins ultimately transfers to another school it will be interesting to see if he’s cleared to play, and what type of of final season he can put together if he is.
Harbaugh is hell bent on installing his philosophy, and he wants to build the program his way. You have to wonder, though, whether accusations from veteran players like Pipkins may ultimately damage the trust between the new coach and his older players, ones which he never had a part in recruiting.