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Michigan State's troubles nothing like those at Rutgers

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — Since the season began, Michigan State has been critiqued front to back, left to right, up and down.

Michigan State rose to No. 2 in the nation after beating what was thought to be an outstanding Oregon team. Then, after rather uninspiring victories over the likes of Air Force, Central Michigan and Purdue, Michigan State fell to No. 4 and left many wondering what's wrong.

But entering the second week of Big Ten, the scrutiny Michigan State is under is nothing like that of Saturday's opponent, and very little of it has to do with the product on the field.

That product has been bad enough through four games for Rutgers, which has victories over Norfolk State and Kansas and ranks near the bottom of the Big Ten in most defensive categories.

Considering the off-field issues, however, it's no surprise Rutgers is struggling.

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"I think it's sad to see all this money being poured into the football program, and we have members of the football team robbing and beating up other students," Rutgers senior Tyler Williams told "I think it's disgraceful. It's a mess. That money could've been used to lower our tuition or to hire more campus buses."

It's easy to understand the frustration. The issues at Rutgers date back several years, including the suspension then dismissal of basketball coach Mike Rice in 2013 after video showed him pushing, shoving and throwing basketballs at players.

But the football program has been alone recently in creating problems for the university.

It began in August when coach Kyle Flood was being investigated for impermissible contact with a university professor regarding the status of one of his players, defensive back Nadir Barnwell.

Next came the suspension and subsequent dismissal from the team of six players in early September. One was charged in two home invasions and four players were charged with assaulting a group of people in April. A week later, the sixth was dismissed.

Barnwell was one of four players allegedly involved in the assault. The others were junior defensive back Ruhann Peele, sophomore fullback Razohnn Gross and junior defensive back Delon Stephenson.

Sophomore defensive back Andre Boggs was charged in the home invasions. Later, Lloyd Terry, a redshirt sophomore fullback, was charged with armed robbery, armed burglary and conspiracy to commit the armed robbery and was dismissed immediately.

That brought the total of Rutgers players dismissed since March to eight. Linebacker L.J. Liston, a Flint native, was kicked off the team in March for undisclosed reasons, and cornerback Darian Dailey was booted after he was charged with armed robbery in May.

But that wasn't it.

After losing to Washington State on Sept. 12, receiver Leonte Carroo was charged with assault after being accused of throwing a woman to the ground in an altercation after the game. A team captain, Carroo was suspended indefinitely.

And on Sept. 16, Rutgers released the findings of its investigation into Flood and suspended him three games.

"I take full responsibility and accept the consequences of my actions," Flood said in a statement. "I care deeply about my student-athlete's academic performance.

"Moving forward, I will make sure I adhere to all University policies and I will place an even greater emphasis with our staff on knowing, understanding and following every University, Big Ten and NCAA rule."

It's hard to imagine things can get any worse for the Scarlet Knights. And their task of getting better on the field won't be simple as they attempt to avenge a 45-3 loss at the hands of the Spartans last year.

They'll try to do that behind running backs coach Norries Wilson, who is serving his third game as interim coach. Rutgers is at least fresh and feeling some confidence. It had last week off after snapping a two-game losing streak with a victory over Kansas the week before.

"We're going to have to work hard this week to make sure we're prepared and to go out there and complete our goal of being 1-0," Wilson said.

And for the first time in what seems like forever, there was actually good news this week for Rutgers.

The simple assault charges against Carroo were dropped, and Wednesday he was reinstated. Getting the career leader in touchdown receptions (22) back can only help the Scarlet Knights' upset bid.

It's a bid Middletown, N.J., native Shilique Calhoun intends to deny.

This will be the first time Michigan State's fifth-year senior defensive end will play at home, and he expects to have plenty of family and friends in the stands.

"I think they'll be fired up," Calhoun said. "In the state of New Jersey we are passionate about Rutgers. I'm still passionate about Rutgers, but I'm here at Michigan State and it's home."