EAST LANSING -- A once friendly rivalry keeps getting nastier between Michigan State and Notre Dame.
The 2005 flag-planting incident and other controversies from last week carried over to more hostility between the programs following the Irish's 40-37 comeback victory Saturday night at Spartan Stadium.
Michigan State coach John L. Smith's news conference Monday opened with a video presentation to dispute what MSU interpreted as Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis suggesting he had been slapped in the face by a Spartans player during a sideline altercation in the second quarter.
Weis went on the field and pleaded with officials who were trying to sort out the penalties. A replay shows Weis telling officials he had been struck in the face, and the implication was that it was one of the Spartans who did it.
"I'm not going to contend that anybody is lying, but you take a look at the film," Smith said.
During a postgame news conference, Weis reiterated he had been struck during the incident, but he then clarified Sunday, by adding he wasn't certain it was a Michigan State player.
"Charlie Weis has never said it was anybody from Michigan State," said John Heisler, a senior associate athletic director at Notre Dame.
The incident occurred after Spartans quarterback Drew Stanton was knocked out of bounds along the Notre Dame sideline by safety Chinedum Ndukwe. The replays showed two men from Notre Dame -- Chad Klunder, the director of football operations, and former quarterback Ron Powlus, the director of personnel development -- grabbing Michigan State players Matt Trannon, Kerry Reed, Javon Ringer and Daniel Zynn, who had gone over to protect their teammate. Trannon's helmet was ripped off in the process.
The video presented by Michigan State showed the incident from various angles.
"That's a very serious allegation," Spartans associate athletic director John Lewandowski said, referring to Weis. "Coach Smith demanded a full investigation. That type of behavior by one of our players won't be tolerated.
"If you look at the complete video from every angle possible, below and above, at no time does he (Weis) come in contact with any player from Michigan State. We're trying to get our players' reputation cleared."
Smith said the video has been sent to the Big Ten. He indicated he thinks it's up to Notre Dame to decide what to do with Klunder and Powlus for their involvement.
"If it was us doing that … the league would probably step in and do something, suspend (someone)," Smith said. "But I don't know, they don't have a league."
Weis' weekly news conference is scheduled for today. Brian Hardin, Notre Dame's sports information director for football, said he hadn't seen the video, but believes the Notre Dame administrators (Klunder and Powlus) were trying to separate the Spartans players from the Irish players so the incident wouldn't escalate.
As for his players' role, Smith said, "They didn't throw a punch in the whole deal. Their quarterback's head is under the bench. They're over there to help protect him and get him out of there."
Smith said he was angry with the officials, who were from the Big Ten, for calling a personal foul against Trannon that wiped out the 15-yard penalty against Notre Dame for the original late hit.
"I thought the call was wrong," Smith said. "You listen to a cockin' bull story (from Weis) and you change it and now you make it a no-call after a kid gets hit like that out of bounds, it's wrong."
Mistake on Caulcrick
In retrospect, Smith said 260-pound reserve running back Jehuu Caulcrick should have been used more in the fourth quarter.
Caulcrick rushed for 111 yards on eight carries, but didn't touch the ball in the final 13 minutes.
"Should we have probably used Jehuu more? Yes," Smith said.
Smith, however, added that Notre Dame's defense was bringing pressure up the middle at that point, and the Spartans felt they needed to run outside, not inside. Caulcrick is a strong runner inside, but Ringer, MSU's starting running back, is the preferred choice on the perimeter.
Approximately 1,300 tickets ($46 apiece) are available for Saturday's game against Illinois.