- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan saw its potential future at quarterback Saturday when Devin Gardner replaced Denard Robinson against Minnesota. The bigger question for the future is how long Gardner will remain at Michigan.
Michigan has not applied for a medical redshirt for Gardner, who could be eligible for one after missing the majority of his freshman season with back issues after playing in three of the Wolverines' first four games.
Then the back issues set in, costing Gardner the rest of the season. Michigan coach Brady Hoke had said in the past that he believed the Wolverines could not apply for a medical redshirt for Gardner until after his initial eligibility was exhausted.
"I've always been told the process was after the eligibility," Hoke said. "But I don't know if that is completely correct."
Turns out what Hoke had been told is not entirely accurate.
Michigan could have applied for the waiver at any point after Gardner's freshman season and there is no statute of limitations on when the school can file for the waiver.
"Institutions do not have to wait until after a student-athlete's true senior year, but rather, may submit a request as early as the end of the season in which the injury or illness occurs," Big Ten associate director of compliance Kerry Kenny said in an email on Monday. "Although we establish deadlines as to when an institution can submit a waiver request for the purposes of the bi-weekly review schedule, we leave the decision about when during a student-athlete's career to submit a medical hardship waiver up to institutional discretion."
Hoke said Monday that the school has not yet applied for Gardner's waiver.
The Big Ten is the governing entity when it comes to processing medical redshirt years, and it is a two-pronged process. The first is the school submitting a waiver on behalf of the athlete to the conference office, including a statement from the team physician and documents from any other treating doctors to show that the athlete could not compete due to said injury.
Once the waiver is received, it goes to the Big Ten Sports Medicine Subcommittee on Eligibility, composed of team doctors from schools in the league. The committee reviews the material and certifies the veracity of the claims. If the case meets the requisite criteria, the Big Ten said in an email Monday, the waiver is granted.
The subcommittee meets once every two weeks to discuss and review medical redshirt claims along with making decisions on the status of redshirts.
No matter the decision, expect Gardner to return to quarterback full time next season. Hoke said Monday that the plan had always been to have Gardner play quarterback in 2013, something solidified after his performance against Minnesota.
"We all spoke about it -- me, Coach Hoke and Coach [Al] Borges," Gardner said. "We made sure that it was a goal of mine and they would cater to that. I was just helping the team this year and I'm still helping the team this year.
"If they need me at quarterback right now or they need me at receiver, I'll do it."
This conversation could have been moot. Gardner said Monday that he and Robinson actually finished preseason camp in 2010 tied, but Robinson won the job due to prior experience.
Robinson then proceeded to establish a stranglehold on the position after back-to-back stellar games against Connecticut and Notre Dame his sophomore season and started every game at quarterback until Saturday.
"In my freshman year, we came out of camp even and he got the start and took advantage of the opportunity," Gardner said. "Played the best game he ever played in his life and then played another great game the next week against Notre Dame.
"You just have to be patient and wait your turn."
That turn is rapidly approaching. How long it will last is still to be determined.
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