Miss Sue: The Blind Side Tutor Shapes Michael’s Future

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Blind Side" by Michael Lewis. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Who was Miss Sue in The Blind Side? How did she help Michael Oher succeed?

Miss Sue in The Blind Side is Michael Oher’s tutor. She first helps him improve his grades in high school in order to get a scholarship. She then follows him to Ole Miss to help him academically.

Read more about Miss Sue, The Blind Side, and how she helped Michael Oher.

College Bound With Help From Miss Sue in The Blind Side

One of the biggest moments in a young college prospect’s life is when he sits behind a row of microphones in a hotel conference room and declares which program will be lucky enough to have him join their team. With Michael Oher currently serving as the best thing to hit high school football since electronic scoreboards, that moment loomed during the fall and winter of 2004. Now that Michael was a senior, he could be formally courted by college programs, but he wasn’t the only person the coaches had to charm. Just like in everything else in Michael’s life, Leigh Anne took a leadership role in Michael’s recruitment, as did Sean Jr., who’d become Michael’s best buddy and sidekick and wanted to make sure he had plenty of access to Michael. And of course, Michael’s tutor Sue Mithcell, known as Miss Sue in The Blind Side, had an opinion, too.

Outside of Tennessee and Mississippi, where both she and Sean were alumni of Ole Miss, most of the coaches had no idea who Leigh Anne Tuohy was. Many of them were surprised to come up against her protective nature over Michael. They thought they were coming to visit a poor black kid and dazzle him with promises of financial rewards, shoes, tickets to elite sporting events, and other extravagances. What they found instead was a now-privileged rich kid who had access to a private jet and shopped at Ralph Lauren. 

To avoid any suspicion of favoritism for Ole Miss, Sean stayed out of the recruitment process. He routed all communication requests through Hugh Freeze. This move didn’t fool anyone. The Tuohys were already building a house near the Ole Miss campus, assuming Collins would attend and cheer there. Their house was decorated on a normal day with Ole Miss paraphernalia, which grew to intense proportions with their Ole Miss-decorated Christmas tree during the holidays. Each coach walking through the Tuohys’ front door had to pitch their program under the shadow of this tree. 

But Hugh Freeze quickly became a liability in Michael’s decision process, as well, when he started interviewing for a job on staff at the University of Tennessee. He wasted no time in trying to impart to Michael all the reasons UT was the right school for him. Leigh Anne also wasn’t shy about her feelings about Michael attending Ole Miss, but she didn’t pressure him. That didn’t stop Miss Sue in The Blind Side, though. She’d been working with Michael on his grades five hours a day, six days a week for several months and was also an Ole Miss alumna. On the day before Michael was leaving to visit the Tennessee campus, Miss Sue in The Blind Side told him that she’d heard it on good authority that the FBI conducted decomposition tests on corpses and buried the bodies under the football stadium. 

A Reversal of Fortune and Lifestyle

By the time Christmas rolled around, Michael had become accustomed to the good life. Most of the time, he accepted invitations to visit schools simply so he could ride on the private jet around the country. In fact, when he learned he had to fly on a commercial airline for an official visit to North Carolina State, he almost didn’t go. The only reason he went was that Sean thought it would look suspicious for him to skip an official visit. 

To Leigh Anne, Michael’s flippant attitude regarding other people’s time was just another indication of how much Michael didn’t understand the world, which only reinforced her desire for him to attend school close to home. His grades had improved thanks to Miss Sue in The Blind Side’s help, but grades were not what counted in Leigh Anne’s eyes. Michael wasn’t stupid, and she already knew that, but he was uninformed in the ways of the world. And this ignorance made him vulnerable. She had no idea how he would cope away from her guidance, so she did everything she could to school him in life to prepare him. 

Miss Sue: The Blind Side Tutor Shapes Michael’s Future

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Michael Lewis's "The Blind Side" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full The Blind Side summary:

  • How Michael Oher went from the projects in Memphis to the NFL
  • Why the combination of size and speed became essential for football stars
  • How Oher was taken in by the wealthy Tuohy family

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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