The assault of Gemon Green and Ja’Den McBurrows in the Michigan Stadium tunnel continues to be a hot topic across the college football landscape, and it’s one that’s likely to continue being one for the foreseeable future. But Fox Sports’ Joel Klatt hopes that it doesn’t.
That is, he wants the investigation to run its course and for everyone to get back into the business of college football.
He quite sensibly explained via his podcast on Monday, while also sharing his thoughts about the entire fracas in the meantime.
“What it what a terrible occurrence, right?” Klatt said. “Just totally marred what is supposed to be a great game and a really fun game. Rivalry games are supposed to be fun and, yes, I get it like they’re supposed to be heated. And by the way, I don’t care if players are chippy on the field or before the game, you know, and I’m not talking about fighting, I’m just saying chippy. Like I understand what players go through. And, that being said, what happened on Saturday night was totally uncalled for at Michigan Stadium — totally uncalled for. So let’s get into it.
“OK, so, I’m not gonna get into specific players or this or that or what I think should or shouldn’t happen to them specifically. Let’s just talk about the altercation, where it happened and where we should go from here. OK, so let’s do that.
“Let’s start with the tunnel. I’ve heard people say like, ‘Well, it’s the stadium’s issue and it’s the single tunnel at Michigan Stadium. And that’s the problem.’ Well, you know what? I don’t buy that. They’ve played football in that stadium for what? 95 years? there have been hundreds of football games played there throughout the many decades and there are very few, very few instances of altercations or anything happening. There have been some, right? Like, I’m not gonna sit here and be like this was out of the blue. Listen, I’ve been there. I’ve been at games and called games. And Jenny Taft has seen like Ohio State and Michigan get into it and have a jawing match in the tunnel. Jim Harbaugh and James Franklin recently have gotten into kind of a war of words through the press about potentially something that happened, an altercation in the tunnel. And now, obviously this one which is — looks really bad, right? Looks really bad. How about we start realizing that Michigan’s probably not going to get into a fistfight with UConn. But when Ohio State or Penn State or Michigan State come into town, like maybe we should have some more security up there. Like what was striking to me in those videos — and you’ve seen them online — what was striking to me in those videos is like it was just like regular support staff that was just walking up to the locker room with the guys, like there was no security there. So how about we have some extra security on the games that we know there could be some heated emotions? Penn State, Michigan State, Ohio State — I don’t know, like put a couple of troopers up there. Right? I highly doubt that this thing gets the way that it does. If there’s troopers in the tunnel, if there’s a rope that is separating one side of the tunnel from the other and you’ve got to go down your side — like little things like that. So I do think that there are some changes that they can do procedurally on location in particular in these specific games because like I said, hey, when Hawaii is rolling in, like, I don’t think they’re throwing fists, right? Like this isn’t a problem all the time. So when it could get to this point like, ‘How about we have some procedures in place?’
”All right, next, I want to talk about from a player’s perspective. OK, so that’s on location, I think that they can fix some of those procedures. And by the way, I think that they will. But if I’m on one of those teams, how do I feel right now? Well, really frustrated. And I don’t want to be like the old, you know, middle-aged guy who used to play it like, ‘Oh, when I played,’ no, that’s not what I’m trying to do. What I’m trying to think about is those young men that went out there and laid it on the line, win or lose, played their hearts out and lost. It takes away from everything those guys are trying to do, both sides, both sides.
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“If I’m a Michigan player, I’m really frustrated because this game should have been about the fact that we went out there and really played well. I know they settled for too many field goals, but you know, who cares? This should be about the fact that over the last five games Blake Corum’s the leading rusher in the country, and he is pressing towards a Heisman candidacy into November. That’s what it should be about from the Michigan side. But no, now we can’t celebrate. We can’t enjoy this victory which should mean a lot to our program. We’re undefeated. We have a chance to beat Michigan State and Ohio State for the first time since, I don’t know, like the early 2000s and now we’re mired in this, embroiled in this controversy now. So that’s a frustrating thing from the Michigan side. It’s taking away from the achievement on the field, which is what this is all about.
“And from the Michigan State side — boy, I am really frustrated that this happened, and probably with some of my own teammates. And the reason is because the actions of a few have now painted the whole with a broad brush. Now everybody’s going to be coming in with that microscope and talking about culture. Talking about discipline, wondering about transfers. Is that why this is happening? Is Mel Tucker not disciplined? What’s going on at Michigan State? So all of a sudden, you have entered into the equation all the distractions that everybody is always trying to keep out. So as a teammate, I would be furious about that. Don’t paint me with that brush. The actions of a few are not representative of the whole.
“I know a lot of those Michigan State players. I’ve covered them over the years. Those are really good young men. I know Mel Tucker. Yeah, was I thrilled that he left Colorado as an alum? No. Did I understand? Absolutely. Right? Like look at the opportunity that he got. I know the type of coach that he is. I know that he is hard-nosed. I know some of his assistant coaches. Know them well. In fact, I played for one of them. And now these guys are gonna have to go through a period of time where all of us media members are gonna walk in and be like, ‘Well, what’s your culture?’ Like, that’s distracting, and it’s frustrating as a teammate. And I feel bad for those kids because I know what it’s like to be on a team and be in a program that gets painted with a brush that’s broad and unfair and I feel like that’s gonna start happening to Michigan State.
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“And then the last thing that I’ll say on this is like, I just want this to run its course in its natural progression. I don’t really want to hear from the coaches and their feelings. I don’t really want to hear from the players either. I want this thing to run its natural course through the investigation. It is, by the way, I should note that late last night on Sunday, there was some news that that popped up about the investigation that was ongoing. In fact, Mel Tucker, I think, put out a statement. Michigan State put out a statement and it essentially said that four players for Sparty, four Michigan State players have been suspended indefinitely. There was was some language about cooperating fully with law enforcement and their investigation, the Big Ten Conference, the administration from both schools — so everyone’s involved and what I want is for this to run its proper course. If law enforcement, if — let’s just put it this way: if and because law enforcement is involved, let’s all take a step back and let them do their job. Let them do their job because what I want is for this to end justly so that we can get back to the business of celebrating college football and the players playing it. That’s what I want.”
For the record, there was added security for the game, at least in the pregame as well as during halftime. As far as in the aftermath, there was a state trooper visible in one of the videos featuring McBurrows, but it’s unclear what he actually did in that moment.
If you have enough energy and emotion left after a game to get into a fight then one of the following is true
– You didn't play
– You didn't play hard
— Joel Klatt (@joelklatt) October 31, 2022