It had been a full week and not a single Michigan State fan had sent me a text. Then my phone started blowing up. They were back. Being all MSU again.
So what if the Green and White had won eight of the last 10 football games. The Maize and Blue have now won two of the last three. John Beilein's basketball team also went to the national finals last March for the second time in six years. UM's hockey team made it to the Frozen Four last season. UM's softball team won the Big 10 championship. UM won Big 10 titles last year, too, in men's cross country, women's field hockey, men's soccer, women's swimming and diving, women's gymnastics and women's tennis.
But there were my Spartans' friends with their mean texts. Usually, they've got jokes. Now, they were being downright nasty about the big cheese over in East Lansing.
It seems the school's new interim president had riled them all up. He stoked the fire of the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry by going on a Saturday morning radio program and griping about the fine handed out to this school by the Big 10 Conference commissioner. The Detroit Free Press immediately reported on how John Engler actually blamed Michigan for MSU's fine.
Your school's head football coach gets called out (UM Coach Jim Harbaugh says he was 5 yards away "all smiles") for his players closelining UM linebacker David Bush, two other UM players and a coaching staff member during their traditional length-of-the-field pre-game march, and Engler blames Michigan.
ESPN then shows the incident with Harbaugh calling it "bush league" over and over all week, followed by Mark Dantonio calling Harbaugh's accusations "B.S." — followed by video evidence of Dantonio "all smiles" just behind his late-marching, misbehaving football team. Yet, Engler says it was all Michigan's fault.
Engler, who served 12 years as Michigan's governor to spark lawmakers to change the law and limit future terms to eight years, should be fired for saying the whole incident was a "set up" by Michigan.
Hey big guy, pay your school's $10,000 fine and shut up.
Anybody who watched the Spartans knock down Wolverines during their traditional pre-game march knows Engler doesn't have a leg to stand on when making such dumb excuses for the behavior of his student-athletes. That's why Big 10 Commissioner scolded football coach Mark Dantonio and said he acting with unsportsmanship conduct “for failing to take action to mitigate a foreseeable conflict from occurring.”
Commissioner Delaney's statement about justifying the $10,000 fine to MSU said: "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. 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.”
So what exactly is unclear to Engler about the commissioner's statement and ESPN's video evidence of Dantonio being "all smiles" much closer than the 5 yards estimated by Harbaugh?
“It was a setup," Engler told radio station WMMQ 94.9 FM. "I think the whole thing was staged and the behavior just outrageous. The idea that Michigan State gets fined is absurd. The Michigan player (Devin Bush) that was out there tearing up the field, that seemed to be the single-most egregious act. I mean, blocking the players was dumb, the players as they did the march. But his behavior in front of everyone, trying to tear up the field and forcing our groundskeeper to come out and fix it — come on. I was told— and I haven’t been around very long — that down at the Big Ten headquarters, the scarlet and gray (Ohio State) and the maize and blue (Michigan) have a little status. And it sure looked like it this week."