Tempers flared following Michigan’s victory over Michigan State Saturday night, with a number of Spartans physically attacking two Wolverines in the tunnel on the way to their respective locker rooms, disturbing incidents that were caught on camera.
When asked about the altercation, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh plainly stated that “two of our players were assaulted.”
“It’s 10-on-one, pretty bad,” Harbaugh said, noting that one of the players involved suffered a nasal injury, speculating that he may have broken his nose.
Harbaugh then deferred to Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel, who sat alongside Harbaugh at the podium and delivered equally stern remarks in a rare impromptu press conference.
“What happened after the game was completely unacceptable,” Manuel said. “I’ve talked to (Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren), he is looking into it. We have the police also looking into it because they’ve seen the video and so they’re addressing it. We’ll leave it in their hands. This is not how we should interact after a game. This is not the way another team should grab a player and do what they did — it’s completely and utterly unacceptable.
“This is not what a rivalry should be about. It’s not how it should be remembered. We won on the field, this man and his team and those players went out there and won. For that to happen is unacceptable.”
Melissa Overton, the deputy chief of the University of Michigan, said that “there will be an investigation” into the matter. Warren, who was at the game Saturday, was seen holding conversations with police officers and Michigan State athletic director Alan Haller in the tunnel.
Harbaugh would not reveal the identity of the two Michigan players involved, though one video seemed to show a group of Spartans pummeling Ja’Den McBurrows, a sophomore cornerback who has yet to play this season due to injury. A second video later emerged in which a group of Michigan State players were swinging a helmet at an unidentified Michigan player, reported to be graduate cornerback Gemon Green.
When asked if he addressed the incident with his team, Michigan State coach Mel Tucker maintained: “I don’t know what happened.”
“I know it was a heated game,” Tucker added. “Things were heated. We were trying to get our guys in the locker room. We’ll have to figure out what happened.”
On Sunday, four Spartans — linebacker Itayvion Brown, defensive end Zion Young, cornerback Khary Crump and safety Angelo Grose — were suspended for their role in the incident.
The four Michigan players made available postgame — sophomore quarterback J.J. McCarthy, junior running back Blake Corum, sophomore linebacker Junior Colson and graduate kicker Jake Moody — each said they had not yet seen the video at the time of their press conferences. But a number of Michigan players later took to social media to express their displeasure with the situation.