Michigan AD Jim Hackett posts open letter rebuking criticism of punter

Dr. Saturday

Michigan interim athletic director Jim Hackett doesn't want fans taking their frustrations from Saturday's loss out on punter Blake O'Neill.

By now, you probably know that a messed up punt with 10 seconds left gave Michigan State an improbable win over Michigan. O'Neill lined up to punt with 10 seconds left and a kick would likely kill most of the time remaining on the clock and force Michigan State to have the ball in its own half of the field.

Instead, the snap was low. O'Neill bobbled it and he was converged upon by a horde of Michigan State defenders. The ball flew into the hands of Jalen Watts-Jackson, who scored a touchdown (and dislocated his hip) with no time left.

O'Neill immediately (and sadly and predictably) received flak on social media. Hackett wants all of that to stop. Here's the text of his open letter, via TheWolverine.com.

Dear Michigan family,

This Saturday's game continued to prove the progress that we are making in our football program.

This isn't only the way I feel the morning after a sudden change of euphoria took us to a heartbreaking loss. I know that many feel this - we are proud of our kids.

I know that all of our friends believe in what they saw for nearly 60 minutes of that game. This team left nothing on the field but its best effort.The quality of Michigan football filled the chilled air.

Today I awake to the shocking reality that our community who care so much about this program would send hurtful, spiteful and vicious comments to one of our students.

To be clear, such comments come from a small minority, none of whom are reflective of our institution.The program I know at MICHIGAN speaks about the team, the team the team. The people I have been associated with my whole life around this fantastic program - some whom are living and some whom have passed on - would never, I repeat never, spread blame.

As our head coach said yesterday, "…this outcome will steel our spine."That means all of us.I'm asking that our community not lose this game twice by condoning thoughtless comments and remember the Fielding Yost comment that this is the "Michigan of ours.

"Go Blue"

Jim Hackett

Not all is lost for Michigan for the season, either. The Wolverines fell to 5-2 but have just one conference loss. If Ohio State beats Michigan State, the Wolverines could force a three-way tie for first in the Big Ten East if the Wolverines beat the Buckeyes in the final week of the season.

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Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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