Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh discusses the pregame issue between Michigan-Michigan State. Angelique S. Chengelis, The Detroit News
Michigan and Michigan State have been publicly reprimanded by the Big Ten for violations of the league’s sportsmanship policy. Additionally, Michigan State has been fined $10,000.
The reprimands result from the pregame incident between players from both teams prior to last weekend's Michigan-Michigan State game.
Before the in-state rivalry showdown at Spartan Stadium, Michigan players were already on the field — having been told it was clear for warm-ups — when the Spartans began their regular pregame walk down the length of the field. It is something the team has done at all home games since Mark Dantonio has been head coach.
Several Michigan players were at midfield when there was a dust-up with the Spartans. The Wolverines said they were never asked to move. Michigan linebacker Devin Bush then kicked his cleats in the Spartan logo at midfield and tore up portions of the field.
Dantonio was just behind the players walking when the incident happened and didn’t appear to react to the players yelling at each other. After the game, Harbaugh called the incident “bush league” and said Dantonio was walking behind, “smiling the whole time,” to which Dantonio responded with, “B.S.”
According to a statement released by the Big Ten Wednesday, “the conference determined that Michigan State violated the policy when its football team walked across the field with linked arms and initiated contact with multiple members of Michigan’s team who were legitimately on the field during pregame warmups.”
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh called the incident before the game with MSU "bush league." Angelique S. Chengelis, The Detroit News
The Michigan State football team was reprimanded for the incident and fined $10,000. Dantonio was reprimanded for “failing to take action to mitigate a foreseeable conflict from occurring,” according to the Big Ten.
Bush was reprimanded for his conduct and Harbaugh, who on Monday said the pre-game incident had “the earmarkings and evidence of an orchestrated stormtrooper march,” was reprimanded for his comments made after the game and on Monday about the incident.
“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,” Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said in the 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.”
Michigan football spokesman Dave Ablauf said the program has no comment on the Big Ten reprimand. The Big Ten indicated in its statement that the matter is concluded and will have no further comment.
Harbaugh on Monday discussed the pre-game timeline and said Michigan wanted to avoid being on the field when the Spartans began their walk. He said it was never made clear exactly when the walk would take place.
“We were trying to not be out there when they were doing their traditional walk,” Harbaugh said. “That’s when the back and forth, the vagueness … They even told us, ‘Sometimes we don’t even do it.’ It came to a certain point where, maybe they’re not doing it. Guys can go out and start getting loosened up for a game that starts at 12 o’clock."
Harbaugh said it was fortunate this did not escalate into something bigger and more physical.
Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio says he won't take questions on the dustup before Saturday's MSU-UM game. Dale G. Young, The Detroit News
“When you host a team, both teams, you share the field,” Harbaugh said. “Each has a sideline, each gets half of the field to warm up on. Michigan State locked arms and used every inch of the field in their walk to attempt to (go) through or over our guys in a physical manner. To call that unsportsmanlike or bush league is putting it mildly. That could have been a real unfortunate incident.
“As I said, it’s the opposite of B.S. Coach said that was B.S., but that’s not B.S. That’s fact. That’s something now the two athletic directors really need to get together and talk about. I’ll go one step forward and use Coach Dantonio’s words from a few years back, ‘It’s not a product of a team but their program.’ Again, that’s using his words. That could have been an unfortunate deal. And I’m proud of our guys for keeping their cool and waiting for the game.”
Harbaugh said he had no issue with Bush kicking his cleats into the Spartan logo. Michigan State grounds crew members had to repair the damage he caused.
“I don’t blame Devin,” Harbaugh said. “I liked the way our guys handled it. That would be like going back and saying, ‘Oh, look at Devin Bush, look at him out there. He’s out at midfield scraping up the logo.’”
“As far as everything prior to the game, I’m really not gonna bother commenting on it,” Dantonio said. “I’ve never commented on a coach in the past. I’m not gonna comment on one now and the whole thing to me was sort of juvenile and things are gonna happen in rivalry games. I stand by what I said (Saturday)."