Michigan State president rips Big Ten, says Michigan set up pregame scuffle with Spartans

EAST LANSING — Michigan State interim president John Engler blasted the Big Ten’s decision to issue a $10,000 fine to the university for a pregame scuffle last week at Spartan Stadium.

Engler, on a pregame radio show Saturday, called commissioner Jim Delany’s ruling “absurd” and blamed Michigan for the incident.

“It was a setup. I think the whole thing was staged and the behavior just outrageous,” Engler said. “The idea that Michigan State gets fined is absurd. The Michigan player (Devin Bush) that was out there tearing up the field, that seemed to be the single-most egregious act.

"I mean, blocking the players was dumb, the players as they did the march. But his behavior in front of everyone, trying to tear up the field and forcing our groundskeeper to come out and fix it — come on. I was told— and I haven’t been around very long — that down at the Big Ten headquarters, the scarlet and gray (Ohio State) and the maize and blue (Michigan) have a little status. And it sure looked like it this week.”

Engler said he asked athletic director Bill Beekman if MSU could respond to the Big Ten’s ruling, which also reprimanded coach Mark Dantonio, as well as Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and linebacker Devin Bush. Engler said Beekman told him the league’s university presidents made an agreement that schools cannot contend the commissioner’s ruling.

Engler said Big Ten presidents have given Delany, “God-like authority.”

“This has come from on high and there is no appeal,” Engler said, adding that the reprimands “means nothing. It’s just (Delany) responding to the public coverage of the incident. He might as well have just said, ‘Tut tut and go.’”

According to Engler, host schools do not have to allow visiting teams on the field until 90 minutes before kickoff.

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“I think it is one of the dumbest decisions that I’ve seen. And I haven’t seen many decisions, but I’ve watched over the years,” Engler said. “But how is this possibly justified, other than the fact the game was held in Spartan Stadium? It’s like a penalty because we had the home field."

The Wolverines beat MSU last week, 21-7, and Engler added strong words for Michigan fans.

“It’s sort of like the reaction from down south (Michigan). I mean, the third time in 11 games they get a win, and we’re right back to you think it’s business as usual,” he said. “Well, we’ll see.”

Contact Chris Solari: [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari. 

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