The Big Ten has thrown a flag at both the Michigan State and Michigan football teams for their on-field conduct prior to last weekend’s contest at Spartan Stadium in Lansing, Mich.
According to the Detroit Free Press, The Big Ten hit Michigan State with a $10,000 fine and publicly reprimanded the head coaches of both Michigan and Michigan State for not immediately deescalating a situation that could have been much worse.
Last Saturday, Michigan State players began their usual practice of walking arm in arm down the length of the field prior to kickoff. Unfortunately, Michigan players were late in getting on the field for warmups and were still on the field when the Spartans began their walk. The Spartan players did not unlock their arms and ended up making contact with the a number of Michigan players and coaches.
“We are fortunate the series of events that occurred prior to the Michigan-Michigan State game did not escalate into a much more serious matter,” league commissioner Jim Delany said in a statement. “While traditions hold great importance on our campuses, traditions do not supersede the values of good sportsmanship or the requirement for player safety. We expect more from our coaches, students and administrators and will continue to work with our institutions to prioritize good sportsmanship moving forward.”
The Big Ten said the fine levied against Michigan State was due to the Spartans making contact with members of the Michigan team. Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio who was on the field during his player’s walk was reprimanded for “for failing to take action to mitigate a foreseeable conflict from occurring.”
The league also reprimanded Michigan linebacker Devin Bush for his conduct in the incident, which included repeatedly grinding his cleats into the midfield logo and yelling at MSU players.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh was reprimanded for his comments about the incident. At a press conference, he said that one of his players got “clotheslined” and another had his headphones ripped off. Harbaugh called the incident “total bush league,” which Dantonio said was “B.S.”
“It’s the opposite of B.S.,” Harbaugh said Monday. “Coach said that was B.S. — it’s not. That’s fact. It’s something the two athletic directors should talk about."
“When you host a team, each team shares the field. Each has a sideline, each has half of the field to warm up on. Michigan State locked arms and used every inch of the field in their walk in attempt of going through or over our guys in a physical manner. To call that unsportsmanlike or call that bush league is putting it mildly. That could’ve been a real unfortunate incident. … I’m proud of our guys for keeping their cool and waiting for the game to (settle it).”
Harbaugh also said he was proud of the way his players handled the incident, noting that he didn't blame Devin Bush for the way he reacted.
Michigan State responded with this statement:
“Regarding last Saturday’s pregame timeline, both teams were distributed pregame timing sheets and were in communication earlier in the week about Michigan State’s pregame tradition of walking the field upon arrival to Spartan Stadium. There has never been an on-field issue with this tradition in the 12 years under head coach Mark Dantonio. The timing of Saturday’s pregame tradition did not change from previous games, nor did the communication change between both schools. MSU was scheduled to leave the Kellogg Center for its walk to the stadium at 9:45 a.m. and left at 9:47 a.m. The team was scheduled to arrive at Spartan Stadium at approximately 10 a.m. and walked the field at approximately 10:02 a.m.
“As a courtesy, Michigan was granted field access before MSU’s arrival with the understanding from both sides that the U of M student-athletes would leave the field during this tradition. Michigan was on the field prior to 10 a.m. as previously agreed upon, but when multiple MSU staff members asked both U of M student-athletes and staff members to please move off the field for the pregame field walk, this did not occur.”
The Big Ten says the matter is now closed.