Michigan Football: Harbaugh Exposes MSU, Dantonio On 'Orchestrated' Pregame
Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh and his administration asked several times during the week what time Michigan State would be doing its pregame march across the field.
Each time they got a different answer.
Harbaugh, speaking at his Monday press conference, said the incident that led to his players interacting with MSU's before Saturday's Michigan win went beyond "juvenile," again calling it "bush league" and "an orchestrated storm trooper march." And despite some attempts to sweep it under the rug or mischaracterize it, Harbaugh provided overwhelming evidence that it was indeed just that.
Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio called Harbaugh's allegations that Dantonio was five yards behind the walk at the time "B.S.," but several photos and videos have since surfaced of it going down exactly as U-M officials said.
"It could have been a real unfortunate incident. As I said, it’s the opposite of B.S.," Harbaugh said Monday. "Coach [Dantonio] said this was B.S., but this was not B.S. That’s fact. I think it’s something the two athletic directors really need to get togeher rand talk about.
"I’ll go one step further and use Coach Dantonio’s words from a few years back: “It’s not a product of the team, but their program." Again, that’s using his words. That could have been an unfortunate deal. And I’m proud of our guys for keeping their cool and waiting until the game to …"
Unleash some fury, as it was. Michigan beat the Spartans by double digits in East Lansing for the first time since 1997, 21-7, and outgained MSU 395 yards to 94.
Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke was 5-for-25 for 66 yards, and Harbaugh praised him for playing through what he said looked like a torn labrum the way he was struggling to throw.
But he wasn't done explaining his side of the pregame incident, one in which MSU's players came out in their helmets and proceeded to march through a few Michigan players on the field, including defensive lineman Lawrence Marshall, linebacker Devin Bush and cornerback Lavert Hill.
"Leading up to the game, we were aware they did a traditional walk," Harbaugh said. "We contacted them because they send us a book of pregame operations that is the most detailed, finest I’ve ever seen. Has everything in it in writing. That part is not. We call them and say, 'what time is your walk?,' because we don’t want to put our players out to warm up until after you guys do your traditional walk. They gave us a time it would be a 9:45. Okay, great. Well, it might be 9:55 [they said] a day later. That walk happened another 10 mintues after that.
"At no point was there any kind of heads up or, 'would you guys please leave the field?' I call using the word 'juvenile' ... I think that’s trying to brush it under the carpet because their strength coaches were out there leading it, their assistant coaches were out there and Coach Dantonio was right behind it. That had all the earmarkings and evidence of an orchestrated stormtrooper march.
"That was bush league. That is has all the evidence of being orchestrated, yes."
Asked when they were told they could go on the field, Harbaugh said they were allowed to be out there whenever they wanted. They went out of their way to make sure they wouldn't be on the turf when MSU did its march.
"We can go out on the field at 9:30, 9:00, 10:00. It comes open to us when it comes open," he said. "Like I said, we were trying to not be out there when they were doing their traditional walk. That’s when the back and forth was in vagueness. They even told us 'oh, sometimes we don’t do it.' It came to a certain point where, ‘maybe they’re not doing it.’ So guys can go out and start getting loosened up for the game that starts at 12:00."
Bush did his part to add fuel to the game by tearing up the Michigan State logo with his cleats at midfield. Harbaugh said he didn't blame him for the response.
“I don’t blame Devin," he said. "I like the way our guys handled it. That would be like going back and saying, ‘oh look at Devin Bush! Look at him out here, he’s out at midfield scraping up the logo!’ After what just took place, that’s straight out of the [Bad Boys early 1990s Detroit] Pistons playboook. Do something to them, say something to them, elbow them and then when somebody else does something back, then flop.
"That’s how I think about that. Again, it’s unsportsmanlike, it’s bush league, and that is putting it very mildly."
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