MSU coach Mark Dantonio OK with perception of his team as internal investigation continues
EAST LANSING -- After reviewing the game tape, Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said he still believes his team did not play dirty last week against Michigan.
But were there dirty plays in the Wolverines’ 28-14 loss Saturday?
That’s what the Spartans intend to sort out.
Michigan State announced in a statement Tuesday it has launched an internal investigation into a possible unsportsmanlike violation stemming from Saturday’s game. The statement did not name any players who were subjects of the search, although defensive end William Gholston is believed to be a candidate.
Jeff Sainlar I AnnArbor.com
Michigan State has three business days to conclude its investigation, then the Big Ten will have three days to complete its review. The Spartans then would have three days to file an appeal of the league’s decision.
Meantime, Gholston is listed first on the Spartans' depth chart that was released Tuesday. They play Wisconsin on Saturday.
Wolverines coach Brady Hoke was asked Tuesday whether he thinks there should be any suspensions following the rough play.
“I don’t know. I don’t make those decisions. I’m just trying to take care of Michigan,” he said, affirming the stance he’s taken since the incidents occurred.
Gholston’s two personal fouls were among six called against Michigan State (the Wolverines had one) and 12 overall penalties, and has drawn fire from local and national media for possible dirty play.
Is Dantonio insulted by the perception of his program right now?
"Not at all,” he said. “I'm proud of how our team plays. We're just playing the game hard. The lack of composure is frustrating, but we're not coaching that."
How would Dantonio respond to critics who call his program dirty?
"You have to take into context, I think first of all, how we've played here the last 50-plus games, and that's how I would (respond)," he said. "We're just playing the game as hard as we can play. It's a physical game, a game of reaction. We're not talking about seconds to react, we're talking about tenths of seconds to react.
"This is a game of collision, and anyone who does not understand that has not been down there on the sidelines. ... That's the way it's always played by the successful teams."
Gholston's punch of Lewan could draw the most scrutiny from school and league officials, as precedent has been set for similar actions.
Former Michigan linebacker Jonas Mouton was suspended for a game in 2009 for a similar incident, and Illinois already has suspended linebacker Jonathan Brown this season for kneeing a Northwestern player in the groin.
Hoke was asked Monday if he had seen Gholston's punch: "Yeah. I’m not going to react to it. I’m a football coach. I’m not a referee or a rules maker. That’s not for me to say. Did I see it? Yes. Does it happen in games? Yes. Is that sometimes part of the game? Yes."
Hoke said the Wolverines sent plays for review to the Big Ten office, which they always do. He did not specify which plays were sent.
Michigan State announced before the news conference Dantonio would not comment directly on Gholston until the investigation is complete. Instead, MSU athletic director Mark Hollis issued a statement that read, in part:
"We are in the process of completing our internal review of the matter. We are thoroughly reviewing the entire game and utilizing all of the available resources: coaches' video from midfield and end-zone cameras, TV copy as well as still photographs. Once the internal review is completed, we will forward a written report on to the Big Ten. The conference office won't discuss a timeline for this process and neither will we.
Hollis also said “this is an isolated incident and Coach D and his staff will continue to emphasize the importance of maintaining one’s compusre during the heat of the moment.”