Leading up to the Michigan State game, Taylor Lewan kept harping on the fact that he didn’t want the Wolverines to be “bullied” by the Spartans like they were two years ago in a loss to the Spartans in East Lansing.
But this weekend, not much was different from the last time Michigan took the 63-mile trip northwest, as the Spartans easily dismantled the Wolverines, 29-6.
The only thing that changed was who instigated the bullying.
ESPN.com reported on Monday morning that the Big Ten is currently reviewing a play in which Lewan, a fifth-year senior left tackle, twisted the facemask of Michigan State defensive end Isaiah Lewis.
“My assessment is that’s not what we want to portray or be,” said Michigan coach Brady Hoke. “Him and I have had a discussion regarding that. It’s not who we are.”
Hoke — who said Lewan’s actions were rooted in him being “a very good teammate” — doesn’t plan to discipline Lewan further, adding, “I think if he should have been suspended, I would have already done it.”
Lewan apologized for his behavior on Monday.
“What I did was wrong,” he said. “I was just trying to protect my guys. There’s always a different way to go about it. I should have gone about it a different way. I can’t take it back now.”
Lewan searched for Lewis on the field after the game to apologize but was unable to find him. Though he didn’t talk to Lewis, he did have a serious chat with Hoke about his actions.
“At the end of the day, he told me I’m representing 134 years of Michigan football,” Lewan said. “(I’m the) 134th captain of this team. It’s a big deal. That’s not representing the University of Michigan the way it should be. It’s not taking pride in the rivalry that we have with Michigan State. They won, they beat us fair and square.”
Redshirt junior quarterback Devin Gardner took a beating on Saturday as he was sacked seven times after the Michigan offensive line opened up the floodgates to the Spartans’ pass rush.
That, according to Lewan, is why he lost his temper in the heat of the moment. On the play in question, Gardner was at the bottom of a scrum with his head exposed, and Lewis tried to jump in on the action. Lewan said he reacted by pulling Lewis off the pile of bodies by his helmet. He received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for his actions.
Lewan has now been on both sides of heightened emotions during the rivalry. In 2011, Lewan was on the receiving end of a punch by former Spartan defensive end William Gholston. Gholston also tugged on the facemask of former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson and was ultimately suspended for one game by the Big Ten for the incident. Neither Hoke nor Lewan would comment on any similarities between the episodes.
“I’m an offensive lineman. I block,” Lewan said. “I take so much pride in what I do that sometimes I’ll lose my composure. I’m here to protect my quarterback and my running back. I need to go about that in a different way.
“When I did it, that was blatant. It was poor and immature of me. There’s really no other way to make it look like I’m a good person in that situation.”