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Mel Tucker under the microscope after four Spartans were suspended

Mel Tucker under the microscope after four Spartans were suspended

Mel Tucker’s Michigan State the program should not be defined by the ugly violence it unleashed in the Michigan stadium tunnel on Saturday night.

What follows will do that.

In the moments after A 29-7 Michigan win On Saturday night, a group of Michigan State players punched, kicked and punched around Michigan defensive back Ja’Den McBurrows as the teams headed to their locker rooms. This wasn’t a fight. This was an attack, McBurrows, without his helmet, greatly outnumbered, and not a single Spartan seemed to try to stop the violence.

“I saw one video, 10 on 1,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. “It’s pretty bad.”

It wasn’t bad. Everything was bad. That’s funny. A group of guys with helmets beating someone without one is weak and pathetic. Then there’s a second video of an undefined MSU player swinging a helmet Michigan defensive back Gemon Greenit’s even more shocking in its own way.

sunday night, MSU immediately suspended four defensive playersTank Brown, Khary Crump, Angelo Gross and Zion Young — until the investigations are completed. Gross and Young are rookies. Brown and Crump also played against Michigan.

Law enforcement is involved. So is the Big Ten and Michigan State and Michigan leadership. Considering that the players were in uniform – with large numbers and names on the back – figuring out who everyone is will not be too challenging. There are also security cameras above both locker rooms that should be additional proof.

That way, a lot is out of Tucker’s control.

Still, gaining control of his program, which is spinning listlessly on the field and out of control, is paramount.

“As Spartans, our program has a responsibility to maintain the highest level of sportsmanship,” Tucker said. “While emotions were very high at the end of our rivalry game at Michigan Stadium, there is no excuse for behavior that puts our team or our opponents at risk.

“In full cooperation with law enforcement, the Big Ten Conference and MSU and UM leadership, we will assess the events in Ann Arbor and take swift and appropriate action.”

This was the beginning. He should have continued. An apology, both to the injured Michigan players, to a Michigan program that had a satisfying win ruined by his team’s stupidity, and to Michigan State itself, the school Tucker’s program represented so poorly on Saturday, should have come next.

Maybe another time.

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN - OCTOBER 29: Michigan State Spartans head coach Mel Tucker reacts against the Michigan Wolverines during the first quarter at Michigan Stadium on October 29, 2022 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker’s hot start was marred, and the low point came when some of his players got into an argument after a loss to Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

A year ago, Tucker was high. The win over Michigan moved the Spartans to 8-0 and ranked third nationally. A 10-year, $95 million contract extension was in the works as the phrase “Tuck’s Comin'” was plastered across yard signs and T-shirts.

Still, State fell to end the season 3-2. This year was a disaster, going 3-5 with only one win over a Power 5 opponent, an overtime triumph against Wisconsin where MSU botched the end of regulation.

Against Michigan, the Spartans were bullied all over the field. They gave up 443 yards and gained just 48 in the second half. They rushed for 37 yards on 23 carries. There were more penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct, which is a trend for the team.

“We have to have more balance and more discipline,” Tucker lamented last week.

The Spartans aren’t just looking at a lost season, they’re looking at a lost season.

That would be troubling enough here in Tucker’s third year, where the momentum has been reversed. A big deal will buy time, but it also creates a spotlight, along with slogans and cigars and luxury cars to recruit photo visits.

“I thought Tuck was coming?” Michigan said running back Blake Choir after 177 yards rushing and rushing and a receiving touchdown. “… All I saw was him running.”

Whatever this team has become, it needs a turnaround and that’s on Tucker. Michigan State has always been at its best when playing with and on the edge. They will never accumulate more talent than Michigan or Ohio State. However, it can be more difficult.

Such a program does not engage in wild brawls where players punch people when they are down. It’s not difficult. That’s pathetic. After 60 minutes of laying on the Wolverines on the field, the Spartans were only scary when they could hide under their helmets and outnumber the victim. It’s hard to imagine how any recruit saw the entirety of Saturday as appealing.

How many players end up suspended or for how long only matters so much. It merely checks the disciplinary frameworks to satisfy critics and administrators.

This is deeper. This wasn’t one bad apple or one guy who couldn’t control his emotions. The attitude of the dressing room needs to change as much as the staff in it.

Perhaps the most damning part of the incident is not just how many Spartans entered the fray, but how seemingly no one tried to stop it.

There doesn’t seem to be a single player pulling out a teammate, trying to break up the attack, or trying to defuse the situation. Instead, a bunch of them climb over each other to attack.

That’s Michigan State football now, whether you like it or not. Harassed on the field. Bullies than that.

This is a proud program. Tucker is an impressive person. Saturday was not an indicator of who the school or the coach is or who he wants to be.

It happened anyway. It was ugly and shameful and speaks to an organization that is in disarray in every way imaginable.

Mel Tucker needs to fix that, because regardless of the big contract, he won’t last like this.





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