WATCH: MSU vs. Michigan Got Ugly Off the Field
Well, I did it. I watched the "Melee in the Mitten" in the actual Mitten State for the first time, and the game itself was a lot of fun. Tough first half, which we all thought it probably would be given the rivalry between MSU and UofM.
But ultimately, the Paul Bunyan Trophy went home to the better team, donned with the maize pants and Wolverine helmet in hand through the tunnel at the Big House. But it's those last two things - the tunnel, and the Big House - where unfortunately the attention is going.
On the field, Michigan was dominant, calm, and controlled. As much as people will talk trash about Jim Harbaugh, he genuinely runs a good, honest program in Ann Arbor. Sure, when your players score, you get excited, you celebrate, and you get sucked into the moment. That might rub the other team the wrong way sometimes. But it's those moments that set other teams apart.
Good teams will use that as motivation and take out their frustration on the field. Bad teams will turn that into aggression off the field and in the stands.
Let's start with the stands at The Big House. A new record for the season, 40 people were ejected from the stadium during the game, two people were arrested, and one person was issued a citation for attempting to use a fake MCard to enter the game.
Most of the 40 people ejected were due to breaking stadium rules, and alcohol-related incidents. Not uncommon, and 40 people out of 107,000 is still pretty good statistically... but it's still not acceptable.
A program can be made or broken by the conduct of those in the stands, and all it takes is one small group to get out of control, and all hell could break loose.
The two charges, by the way, were assault charges.
Now, these incidents weren't totally on any one fan base. In fact, odds likely put it more on UofM fans than MSU fans.
But what happened in the tunnels AFTER the game absolutely WAS on MSU.
For those who missed the incident, it was caught on cameras and plastered all over social media.
Props to him for holding his composure after that, because I would not have been able to just "walk it off" back down the tunnel.
The SECOND assault wasn't caught by cameras, but rather by someone with a cell phone in the tunnel. This one clearly shows the direct aggression against the Wolverine Player, as MSU players were swinging their helmets at him as a weapon.
Both of these are straight-up unacceptable. Doesn't matter how good or bad your season is going, violence like this shouldn't be tolerated.
Even if either of these Michigan Players were talking trash about the win, or smack-talking their way to the locker room, you have to contain yourself.
It's unfortunate it came to this, and I'm at least glad the university issued an apology statement, and some discipline is coming for at least four of the players. But if you're asking me, this is a death sentence for the rest of the season for MSU.
Clearly, more than four players were involved in this, and it seems to be a culture that's being cultivated in the locker room of MSU. It's unfortunate because this series has gone so long without getting ugly. Hopefully, this is a learning moment that will cultivate a more healthy rivalry in the future.