East Lansing — Michigan State plans to honor 21 seniors before Saturday’s regular-season and home finale against Maryland.
Suspended star linebacker and two-time captain Joe Bachie will still be one of them.
“I’m treating this just like an injury,” coach Mark Dantonio said Tuesday. “He went through the appeal process. On both sides of the fence in that process, I thought they did their due diligence. They took their time with it and the decision went against us.
“If you know Joe Bachie and you know how hard he's worked and the leadership that he's shown on this football team over the course of time, I have to be respectful and honor that. I want him to be a part of that day.”
Bachie was suspended by the Big Ten on Oct. 31 after failing a random drug test and testing positive for a supplement that's classified as a performance-enhancing substance banned by the league.
Dantonio confirmed after Saturday’s win at Rutgers that Bachie’s appeal was denied, meaning his Michigan State career was over. In eight games this season, he tallied 72 tackles, four pass breakups, 3½ sacks and an interception as the linchpin of the defense.
Bachie was voted Team MVP and named third-team All-Big Ten as sophomore in 2017. He finished with 102 tackles and was named first-team All-Big Ten his junior season.
Dantonio declined to get into specifics regarding the circumstances surrounding Bachie’s suspension.
“He's been a great player for this program, and I hope he has a great career after,” Dantonio said. “We obviously can't play him, but we went through the process with the appeal. Just didn't win it.”
In Bachie’s absence, Michigan State has turned to senior Tyriq Thompson, junior Antjuan Simmons and sophomore Noah Harvey to fill the void at middle linebacker. Thompson started in the middle against Rutgers after Simmons held down that spot against Michigan two weeks ago.
Dantonio said the coaching staff won’t decide who will start at middle linebacker this weekend against Maryland until after the team’s practice on Wednesday.
“It will depend on who we need where,” Dantonio said. “All three have sort of played in there, so that's a good problem to have I think, so we can adjust with that, and all three have played around the other positions.
“But when you lose Joe Bachie, I mean, it's like losing the quarterback of your defense, certainly, and he's an outstanding player and we have to pick up the pieces in that regards. I do think Tyriq played well there this past week, though.”
Dantonio added the trio each bring a different dynamic to the position, with Simmons being a “little more quick twitch,” Thompson being a “thumper” and Harvey being the younger guy who “can really run.”
“They are all a little bit different, just like all players are a little bit different,” Dantonio said. “But they will all be ready to play, and I've been impressed with the leadership of all three.”
Maryland at Michigan State
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Spartan Stadium, East Lansing
Records: Michigan State 5-6, 3-5 Big Ten; Maryland 3-8, 1-7
Line: Michigan State by 22