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October 19, 2011

'It was kind of a joke'

Exhausting day. Here's how it ends. Pat Narduzzi's explanation Tuesday of what he called a "poor choice of words" after the U-M game when he said: “That’s what we tried to do, 60 minutes of unnecessary roughness. Just glad it didn’t get called every snap.”

    “As you guys know, we don’t teach foul play or dirty play at all,” Narduzzi said after practice. “You guys know that, I think. I think if you said four and a half years, how many personal fouls we’ve had, we probably had more in one game than we had in four and a half years, really. I don’t think you can tally up five in four and a half years. So we don’t teach that. We’re a classy football team. And I just want to make sure that (is clear). It was kind of a joke, I know probably taken out of context, like a lot of things are.
    “If you would have looked at the 30 words prior to and 30 after you could probably figure it out. But I just want to make sure the air is clear. We don’t do that. We haven’t done it for four and a half years, we wouldn’t start now. I think our kids were fired up. Maybe it was those (Nike Pro Combat) helmets, maybe it was the armor, I don’t know what it was. But our kids played their tails off and we play legal and you never know how a crew is gonna call things and that’s what it was. I thought I stated that after the game. There were obviously some calls you look at and go, ‘What was he thinking?’ We acted poorly.”

    I take this one personally because I used that quote, isolated, as the lead quote in the game story. It was a great quote. And I took it for what he meant -- that Michigan State was trying to be as physical as possible on every play. He tends to say things in colorful ways. I never imagined people would take it literally -- that Narduzzi was actually talking about encouraging his players to commit personal fouls and hope to get away with them -- but that's a mistake on my part.

    I hate the "taken out of context" line that athletes and coaches like to give and think it's bogus 90 percent of the time. But in this case, I have to agree with him. I don't remember exactly what anyone else did with that quote, but in our paper it was out of context. Clearly, some people have taken it literally and the comments to put it in context were not included.

    Here is one of those comments (used in this blog but not in the game story). Narduzzi delivered it a couple minutes after the offending quote, talking about the final personal foul (on Marcus Rush), on which Denard Robinson was injured: “You know, we don’t want to hurt anybody. I feel bad (Robinson) was laying on the ground. I didn’t see it, I was looking downfield, I don’t know if it was late, but we don’t need those 15-yarders. And that’s probably the most disappointing thing. We’re a classy, disciplined football team and we haven’t done that all year.”

    So there's that. Gholston, the YouTube wars between U-M and MSU fans, the ridiculous leap from two bad plays by Gholston to "MSU is Miami North," all of it has become tiresome. Had MSU acted immediately and suspended Gholston (while making it clear to support him), this would be over, but my read is that MSU doesn't think he deserves to be suspended. So we'll just have to see what the Big Ten thinks. On the fan debate, think of it this way: If the exact same things happened in reverse -- U-M wins, Craig Roh takes a punch at Dan France (after France takes him to the ground by facemask) and twists Kirk Cousins' helmet -- you'd be howling for Roh's head. You'd be calling the Wolverines renegades. You'd be looking for some kind of satisfaction. And Michigan fans would be scrambling to find video evidence of the Spartans also being dirty, of justification for Roh's actions. And calling you sore losers and whiners.

    Tiresome. Time to move on to a mammoth football game this weekend and start looking at an intriguing basketball team. When the Big Ten rules, we'll let you know. A couple stories from today I failed to link earlier: The 1965-66 reunion this weekend and three questions. Night night.

    8:45 A.M. UPDATE: Just to perpetuate things, here's more -- with some comments from players defending the program.

    Just to demonstrate that we're actually writing about other stuff this week, here are some hoops notes from media day.

 

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Joe Rexrode
MSU Sports Reporter
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