ANN ARBOR (CCN) — Michigan Wolverines football Coach Jim Harbaugh reacted Monday night to a statement by Michigan State University's athletic department by calling for an investigation into the controversial incident before Saturday's game in East Lansing. Harbaugh called for the investigation during the "Inside Michigan Football" radio show when learning that MSU officials had issued a statement after he doubled down on his post-game comments during a Monday press conference in Ann Arbor.
"That is not (true)," Harbaugh said after learning about MSU's statement. "There's a conflict in the explanations. It should be investigated, and I look forward to seeing the outcome of that."
A few hours earlier at his regular weekly press conference in Ann Arbor, Harbaugh had "doubled down" on post-game comments about the incident being "bush league" and alleging that MSU Coach Mark Dantonio was 5 yards behind it and "all smiling."
Dantonio told reporters after the game on Saturday that Harbaugh's accusation was "B.S." A video by ESPN, however, showed Dantonio indeed smiling as the incident took place where MSU players locked arms and walked across the field before Saturday's game, closelining two UM players and one staff member. Numerous national TV broadcasts have since showed UM linebacker David Bush being restrained by UM staff members after he was knocked down and then promptly marching to the center of the field to begin digging his cleats into the MSU logo painted on the field.
Harbaugh defended Bush for his actions, saying, "Really, to have Devin Bush Jr. portrayed that he did something wrong — we don't have that feeling at all. We thought our players handled it as well as they possibly could have in that situation they were in."
Harbaugh explained during Monday's press conference that MSU officials told Michigan officials that they originally planned to begin their field-wide march at 9:45 a.m., but then moved it to 9:55. Harbaugh said MSU did not take the field for its pre-game home field ritual, however, until shortly after 10 a.m., with video of the march surfacing at approximately 10:02 a.m.
Harbaugh said Bush, UM defensive back Lavert Hill, defensive tackle Lawrence Marshall and linebacker Khaleke Hudson were already on the field with UM staffers when MSU players began their march.
MSU's statement was issued immediately after Monday's luncheon press conference comments by Harbaugh. The statement read as follows: "Regarding last Saturday's pregame timeline, both teams were distributed pregame timing sheets and were in communication earlier in the week about Michigan State's pregame tradition of walking the field upon arrival to Spartan Stadium. There has never been an on-field issue with this tradition in the 12 years under head coach Mark Dantonio. The timing of Saturday's pregame tradition did not change from previous games, nor did the communication change between both schools. MSU was scheduled to leave the Kellogg Center for its walk to the stadium at 9:45 a.m. and left at 9:47 a.m. The team was scheduled to arrive at Spartan Stadium at approximately 10 a.m. and walked the field at approximately 10:02 a.m. As a courtesy, Michigan was granted field access before MSU's arrival with the understanding from both sides that the U of M student-athletes would leave the field during this tradition. Michigan was on the field prior to 10 a.m. as previously agreed upon, but when multiple MSU staff members asked both U of M student-athletes and staff members to please move off the field for the pregame field walk, this did not occur."