Brady Hoke, Michigan coach, apologized to Michigan State after a stake was planted by his players in Spartan Stadium before the Wolverines lost the game 35-11 on Saturday, and many local bookies could clearly see how controversial this action by his team proved to be.
The coach said that he had a conversation with Spartans coach Mark Dantonio and apologized for what his players did, saying that it was “poor sportsmanship.”
The coach said that during Michigan’s meeting on Friday night, the Wolverines were given a tent stake in a speech about sticking together and commitment in an environment which is difficult.
“The stake was brought into our locker room as a visual reminder,” said Hoke, “and one of our team leaders chose to take it out on the field. As the leader of our football program, I take full responsibility for the actions of our team. We believe in displaying a high level of respect at the University of Michigan and unfortunately that was not reflected by this action prior to kickoff.”
The Spartans were offended by the plating of the stake. Instead of taking a knee with a lead of 17 points in the last minute, Michigan State tagged on to another TD on a run by Jeremy Langford.
“It just felt like we needed to put a stake in them at that point,” Dantonio said in his news conference after the game.
Michigan State often felt that they were disrespected in the rivalry between the teams, particularly since Mike Hart, who was a tailback for the Wolverines back then, said that the team was a “Little Brother” after a win by Michigan in 2007. Local bookies saw that the Spartans were able to win six out of the seven last meetings since then.
“I can only be diplomatic for so long,” said Dantonio. “The little brother stuff, all the disrespect, it didn’t have to go in that direction.
“We try to handle ourselves with composure. That doesn’t come from a coach. It comes from the program. Throwing the stake down in our backyard out here and coming out there like they’re all that. That got shoved up … It got shoved in the last minute and a half.”
On Saturday, Hoke said that he wasn’t sure about what exactly took place in the incident involving the stake. In the statement released on Sunday, he mentioned telling the Spartans coach that “we meant no disrespect to his team.”