This past weekend, William Gholston led the Spartan defense in a dominant performance over the Wolverines. Michigan State was able to effectively neuter Michigan by handling Denard Robinson for the second straight season in winning the Paul Bunyan Trophy for the fourth year in a row. State punched Michigan in the mouth literally and figuratively and in the end, it’s a punch in the mouth that’s getting all the attention instead of what really happened on the field which was a sound drubbing in our annual Civil War.
Yes, there were personal foul calls for roughing the quarterback and for throwing a punch, 6 calls I believe in all against Michigan State. Their aggressive play got over-aggressive at times and they were flagged accordingly. But, let’s not treat this like it was the most egregious, reprehensible play we’ve ever seen. It was football, hard nosed, smash mouth, football. One side will love it, the other will hate it. If the outcome were reversed, the only change would be about who is upset. We would still have one side begging for a Big Ten bailout in the form of a suspension.
I must say that all this talk about sportsmanship and dirty play is getting a bit tired. It seems that we have conveniently forgotten how much we love blood lust when it’s our team. Mike Valenti said it beautifully, “I would rather my team play like Suh than Susan.” Amen, brother! Remember him? Ndamukong Suh? He’s the guy who plays for the Lions and tried to decapitate Andy Dalton earlier this year, or go back to last year when he got a hold of Jake Delhomme. How many times has he been called for personal fouls? How many times in a game do we hear about personal fouls? It happens all the time, it’s football. We’ll celebrate it when it’s our guy and it doesn’t cost us a game. We’ll condemn it when it isn’t our guy or if there’s a loss attributed to the aggressive nature.
I am not condoning Gholston’s behavior regarding his twist off cap impression of Denard, which was cheap and uncalled for. As far as the punch was concerned, look at what preceded it. Taylor Lewan grabbed a hold of Gholston’s facemask and forced him to the ground; big Will took exception and threw a right hand that glanced off Lewan’s jaw and helmet. It’s not like Gholston grabbed Lewan’s junk, nor did he give a Ric Flair chop to his throat, it was a retaliatory punch. But, if you find it so ghastly and demand satisfaction in the form of a suspension, so be it.
I offer this stern warning, be careful of what you wish for as it may open Pandora’s Box. An awful lot goes on during the course of a football game that doesn’t get flagged. So while the disparity in personal foul calls looms large, it doesn’t mean the other side was singing in Church. When MSU AD Mark Hollis released his statement about the matter, he indicated that they will go over every bit of film, play by play, and still photographic evidence to make sure that they are properly prepared in submitting their findings before the Conference. That means they could uncover some other unsightly instances of poor sportsmanship. So, be ready Michigan fans, it’s easy to point the finger when you’re not looking in your own direction.
This isn’t intended to rile up the Michigan faithful, the reality is that Gholston probably will get suspended and that even though he was a beast on the field and the Spartans won, it could cost them dearly this Saturday night against the Badgers if he is held out of action. Hopefully Gholston has learned something from all of this; you have to keep your emotions in check even in the most emotional of games. It might say something about his character though when you realize that he was one of the few that went over to Brady Hoke to shake his hand after the conclusion of the game. I’d be curious to know what was said and how Hoke feels about the situation. I’ll bet he was wishing that he had big Will on his side and I don’t think he’s alone.