Ann Arbor – Police have launched an investigation into a nasty post-game brawl in the Michigan Stadium tunnel following Michigan wins 29-7 over rival Michigan State late Saturday night.
Tempers flared on the pitch as the final seconds ticked away, but cooler heads seemed to prevail – down to the tunnel, where several reporters heading for post-match press conferences captured video of what appeared to be about 10 Michigan State players surrounding a Michigan player, with several Spartans kicking and punching.
That Michigan player appeared to be defensive back Ja’Den McBurrows, who was down in the middle of several Michigan State players. When the player who appeared to be McBurrows got up, Michigan State linebacker Itayvion Brown grabbed him and threw him through an open door at the end of the tunnel. A Michigan State Police officer grabbed Brown’s jersey to restrain him.
At least two other Michigan State players, safety Angelo Grose and defensive end Zion Young, were seen by a Detroit News reporter throwing punches at the player who appeared to be McBurrows.
Soon after, the two head coaches, Michigan State’s Mel Tucker and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, emerged to tell their players to come to their locker rooms.
Harbaugh called the postgame altercation “10 to one,” with the 10 being Michigan State. He said there was another Michigan player who was “assaulted”. Michigan has not identified any of its players, but Harbaugh said one player may have suffered a broken nose.
“Pretty bad,” Harbaugh said. “I will let our sporting director, Warde Manuel, talk to the authorities about it.
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Manuel spoke to the media and said Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren, who was in attendance Saturday night, will also investigate the altercation. The two college campus police departments have launched a co-investigation, Michigan Deputy Police Chief Melissa Overton confirmed to the Detroit News.
“Situations like these, and the safety of our community, are taken very seriously,” she said.
Officers from the Michigan Campus Police Department, Michigan State Police and Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department were among the agencies working at Michigan Stadium on Saturday.
Manuel repeatedly called the incident “unacceptable”.
“What happened after the game is totally unacceptable,” Manuel said. “This is not how we should interact after a game. This is not how another team should grab a player and do what they did. This is completely and utterly unacceptable.
“That’s not what a rivalry should be, or how it should be remembered.
“That this is happening is unacceptable.
Michigan State Athletic Director Alan Haller did not respond to requests for comment from The News, but released a statement early Sunday morning.
“I have been in contact with Commissioner Warren,” Haller said in the statement. “We will cooperate with the conference office and other efforts to gather more information.”
Tucker, when asked about the incident, said he didn’t know what happened.
“I know it was a heated game. Things got heated,” he said. “(We’re trying) to get our guys into the locker room. We’ll have to figure out what happened.
“I have nothing to settle. I don’t know what happened.”
Several Michigan and Michigan State players were asked about the altercation during postgame news conferences, and all declined to comment, saying they hadn’t seen the video that quickly went viral. lit up social media.
Manuel, Warren and Haller were seen talking to police together, after the players all settled into the locker room. Warren did not immediately respond to a phone call and text from The News seeking comment, but the Big Ten said in a statement it was “thoroughly” investigating and “would take appropriate action.”
Several Michigan players took to Twitter to comment on the incident. Receiver Darrius Clemons wrote: “You had 60 minutes to get your hands on someone with no repercussions. See you next year.” Roman Wilson, another UM receiver, tweeted: “Is this what we do?”
As the clock ticked down to a Michigan-dominated game over the final three quarters, Michigan players began celebrating their first series win since 2019, with several leaving to locate the prized Paul Bunyan Trophy and the equip corn pants. But dozens of other players from both teams exchanged heated words on the pitch. There didn’t seem to be any throwing punches or shoving on the ground, before that changed in the tunnel.
The problems in the tunnel extended beyond the players. Another one video posted on Twitter by @MJoeBean showed a fan leaning over and touching Tucker’s head as the Michigan State coach had just entered the tunnel before the game. Tucker reacted by pushing the man’s hand away, then extending his right arm toward the man, seemingly pointing him out to law enforcement just as the video cuts out.
This is the second time there has been a heated incident this season in the tunnel at Michigan Stadium, which both teams use to leave the field, before the visiting team turns left and Michigan turns left. right. On Oct. 15, Penn State head coach James Franklin got into an exchange with security guards when his players had words for Michigan players at halftime. The following week, Franklin called the Michigan tunnel a “problem”; Harbaugh called Franklin the “leader” of the incident. There were heated exchanges in the tunnel during last year’s Michigan-Ohio State game and before the 2013 Michigan-Ohio State game. None of those incidents were physical.