Michigan's performance Saturday versus Michigan State was sorry enough. So apologizing for a player's emotional pre-game tirade really wasn't necessary.
But for some reason, Wolverines coach Brady Hoke issued a "my bad" Sunday afternoon to Michigan State, which knocked around his Wolverines en route to a 35-11 victory, the biggest pro-MSU decision since 1967.
And it was in East Lansing.
And Michigan had lost five of the previous six, bringing the new streak to six of the past seven.
And Michigan had just 186 total yards and one offensive touchdown, its first in the series since 2011.
Jeremy Langford, the Spartans' star running back, rushed for 177 and three scores.
Michigan State and its fans aren't really owed an apology, although it was the nice thing to do. Mark Dantonio's Spartans shall survive--it's Wolverines fans who are owed most of the "I'm sorry for Saturday, guys..."
The following statement from Hoke was released by Derek Satterfield, Michigan's football sports info director.
“I want to publicly apologize to Coach Dantonio as well as the players and supporters of Michigan State for our act of poor sportsmanship displayed pre-game yesterday. I spoke with Mark earlier today and expressed to him that we meant no disrespect to his team. During our regular Friday night team meeting, one of the topics presented to motivate our team was a history lesson addressing commitment and teamwork in a tough environment. A tent stake was presented to the team as a symbol of this concept. The stake was brought into our locker room as a visual reminder, and one of our team leaders chose to take it out on the field. As the leader of our football program, I take full responsibility for the actions of our team. We believe in displaying a high level of respect at the University of Michigan and unfortunately that was not reflected by this action prior to kickoff.”
Don't fault Joe Bolden, "one of our team leaders," for being an emotional young man. At least he showed some type of desire, which is a lot more than can be said for Team 135 as a whole. I think it'd be harsh for anyone to rail Bolden for Stakegate.
He doesn't deserve the backlash.
He wasn't stopped from doing what he did. I won't say he was encouraged, but he was definitely assisted. That said, Hoke's wasting his time, in a sense, by bashfully apologizing to Dantonio, who wasn't thrilled at all by the antics.
But as Dantonio said, his team put a stake into Michigan by running Langford to the right corner of the end zone with seconds to play. That sent a message that was vocalized and emphasized after the game by the Spartans coach.
But back to the stake, which was introduced to the team by the staff during Friday meetings--the same staff that took it to East Lansing, which is also the same one that allowed Bolden to take it on the field. Coaches knew he had it. On Saturday night, Hoke said that he was aware of the incident.
This was just another backfire in 2014. Nothing more; nothing less. It's no more embarrassing than what Minnesota and Utah did to Michigan in Ann Arbor, and it's certainly not worse than Notre Dame's domination.
Michigan's now playing the role of the meek and defeated. Apologizing for passion?! Maybe, but not this way. Michigan State's planted flags at midfield. Teams have jawed to no end and there have been years when this rivalry (on the field) swayed into violent territory.
This apology was equivalent to tapping out, or, better yet, crying "Uncle Mark! I give! I give!"
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