Never in my life have I seen something so stupidly displayed by a group of grown men from a school with such high values like Michigan State University and its football program.
Before events unfolded afterward, the University of Michigan Wolverines dominated the Michigan State University Spartans in their annual head-to-head matchup in Ann Arbor on Oct. 29 to reclaim the Paul Bunyan trophy for the first time in three years, winning 29-7. However, what would happen on the way to the locker room would later be the major headline of the night.
While most Wolverines stayed on the field to celebrate the big victory, two of them, Gemon Green and Ja’Den McBurrows, decided to head up the tunnel and toward the locker room at the same time as Michigan State. A video began to surface as a group of Spartans began to violently assault both of them.
Michigan Head Coach, Jim Harbaugh, expressed his frustration over the situation in the post-game press conference, but couldn’t say much due to the ongoing investigation conducted by higher authorities.
“There needs to be accountability, there needs to be a full, thorough and timely investigation,” Harbaugh said. “An apology will not get the job done in this instance. There should be serious consequences for the many individuals that are culpable.”
Second-year Head Coach of MSU’s football program, Mel Tucker, lightly commented as well, insisting that actions taken by those on his team “do not represent our culture.”
Up to this point, eight players in total have been suspended indefinitely from their involvement with a possibility of more consequences being added when the investigation completes.
If it was up to me, these players would be criminally charged. Everything that happened took place after the game had concluded. With video evidence proving that a helmet was used to hit another player, it should easily be seen as a deadly weapon. If someone were to get charged with using the helmet, that felony would put them in prison for a couple of years.
But honestly, is there an excuse for why players have to act this way?
There’s a fine line for everything when it comes to rivalries in sports and, more importantly, how to respond when you get schooled out on the field. There are several examples of how these situations were avoided.
Mike Hart degraded the Spartans after a comeback win in 2007, calling them “little brother”. Former Coach Mark Dantonio would respond by dominating the Wolverines for an entire decade, adding the “Where’d all the Wolverines go?” comment along the way.
How did Michigan react? They beat Dantonio in his final two years while Rashan Gary kicked the grass off the Spartan logo.
The point is, players need to accept failure and learn how to use it as a motivation for succeeding in the future. I don’t get how in 2022 that unwritten rule was broken when two people decided to jog up the tunnel.
What’s even more frustrating to me is how there are conversations about the tunnel being the issue. Recently, the tunnel issue was raised when the Nittany Lions were in town just a few weeks ago on Oct. 15, when at halftime a couple of Penn State players were said to have thrown peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at a handful of Wolverine players. Just because I am a Michigan fan, I am happy to say that Michigan destroyed them in the second half, 41-17 being the final score.
Michigan Stadium is one of the only remaining places in all of the sports that still uses its original tunnel, where both the home and away teams enter and exit the locker rooms from.
Can there be better facilitation, making both teams completely separate? Sure. But ask yourself, does a little bit of concrete that makes two walls and a ceiling do it for a group of guys to jump someone?
Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Trust me, Michigan has had its fair share of devastating losses in the last few years, especially to that team down south; the same goes for any program or franchise quite frankly. Yet, there’s never been an altercation such as the one a couple of Saturdays ago, and for that, there need to be more consequences other than suspensions.