On Saturday afternoon, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio saw red. Despite his Spartans leading in-state rivals Michigan by a score of 28-11 in the final minutes, he decided to pile on another touchdown just to insult the Wolverines, ending his team’s final assault at Spartan Stadium by a score of 35-11.
Dantonio felt justified, he said, because one of the Wolverines players had driven a spike into the ground before the game as an act of defiance… or disgrace to MSU’s field… or… something.
Either way, Dantonio felt the move was disrespectful and decided to run up the score on U of M coach Brady Hoke, as if he might not have done as such anyways. Hoke’s fate is all but sealed at Michigan, and he’ll almost certainly be fired at the season’s end following a loss to Ohio State. Still, every humble (or without any fight left in him), Hoke claimed that he called Dantonio early on Sunday and personally-apologized, which the University of Michigan reiterating his statement.
“I want to publicly apologize to coach Dantonio as well as the players and supporters of Michigan State for our act of poor sportsmanship displayed pre-game yesterday,” Hoke said in his statement released by the university. “I spoke with Mark earlier today and expressed to him that we meant no disrespect to his team. During our regular Friday night team meeting, one of the topics presented to motivate our team was a history lesson addressing commitment and teamwork in a tough environment. A tent stake was presented to the team as a symbol of this concept.
“The stake was brought into our locker room as a visual reminder, 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 matter is likely over now, and “Stake-gate” as it has been called, is hopefully in the past now – removed from being called up in future meetings of the two teams (though that’s not likely true, either). During Sunday’s press conference with the media, Dantonio told reporters that Hoke had indeed called him and apologized, and kept it mostly at that, opting to keep what was said between the two private.
“It’s my feeling as a person — not as coach, as a person — that I don’t really care to cause pain for anybody,” Dantonio said. “That’s not why I’m here. So I’m good to do. We’ll focus on the future.”
As for “as a coach”, Dantonio sure did seem to not mind inflicting some late pain upon the Wolverines by hammering in a final extra touchdown, perhaps sealing Hoke’s own fate for good. Perhaps just making sure Michigan knew how much he despised them…