Last October two Michigan players, Gemon Green and Ja’Den McBurrows, were assaulted by multiple members of the Michigan State Spartans. These assaults occurred in the tunnel of Michigan Stadium at the conclusion of Michigan’s 29-7 win over the Spartans.
Ultimately, seven Michigan State players were charged for their involvement. Six players received misdemeanors and Khary Crump received one count of felonious assault.
ESPN captured tunnel video of the Michigan State incident with Michigan after the game on Saturday. pic.twitter.com/Woq3UDl8Xj— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) October 31, 2022
Footage of the scuffling pic.twitter.com/cipLWi5RBS— Matt Charboneau (@mattcharboneau) October 30, 2022
Punches were thrown, and a helmet was used as a weapon. It was an incredibly ugly scene and one that will never be forgotten in the rivalry.
Now it’s a new year and the two programs will face one another again on Oct. 21 in East Lansing. For Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker, it doesn’t sound like he has any interest in toning down the rivalry and vitriol heading.
“How do you rein it in? I don’t know how you do that,” Tucker said at Big Ten Media Day, per MLive. “There’s not a day that’s gone by that I haven’t heard something about that game, I mean, every day of my life I hear about that game so I don’t know how you rein that in. It just is what it is.”
But it isn’t what it is. Last year was entirely unacceptable, a reflection of hefty suspensions being levied on Michigan State players. Khary Crump, for example, will be suspended the first eight games of this season. Michigan State is still dealing with the fallout from the tunnel incident. And the last thing needed presently is any rhetoric that can potentially throw more gasoline on a raging fire.
Tucker went on to say “he’s not shying away from the challenge of the rivalry” and it’s the biggest game of the year for Michigan State. While embracing the competition and circling the Michigan matchup on the calendar are both perfectly acceptable things to do, it’s important to admit there was a major problem last year and what occurred was heinous and unfortunate.
The rivalry needs to be reined in where things can be chippy but not vicious and hostile. What happened last October can never happen again.