Miami State Spartans -- Personal Foul U, 2.0

Submitted by Nonnair on October 16th, 2011 at 5:51 PM

Mark Dantonio has now coached in five Michigan-Michigan State games. If you're wondering whether UM's players have justification to start feeling a bit like a roughed-up MSU dorm-hall coed and her friends, you're right.

Inglorious stats from the past five Michigan-Michigan State games, if I gleaned the play-by-play logs accurately:

YEAR MSU PFs MSU RPs MSU UCs MSU all 3 combined UM all 3 combined
2007 3 0 0  3 2
2008 0 0 0 0 1
2009 4 1 0 5 0
2010 1 0 1 2 1
2011 4 2 0 6 1
TOTALS 12 3 1 16 5

PF = personal foul          RP = roughing the passer       UC = unsportsmanlike conduct


Basically, Dantonio's Spartans are going to play like a bunch of hooligans when Michigan plays at Michigan State -- 11 personal fouls and 3 roughing-the-passer penalties in three games played at Spartan Stadium. And in the past three Michigan games alone, the Spartans have committed 9 personal fouls, 3 roughing-the-passer penalties and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. (By comparison, Michigan has committed 2 such penalties in the past thee games, and 5 in the past 5 Michigan State games.)

All this excludes the chop-block penalty incurred late last year on Michigan State, which crushed Mike Martin's leg -- a vicous attempt to injure -- and excludes the likely suspension coming to Gholston on Monday.

Maybe we've all got it wrong, however.

Maybe Dantonio isn't modelling his football program after Jim Tressel's at Ohio State's; rather, maybe he's patterning it on Dennis Erickson's notorious Miami-Florida teams of the early 1990s. True, Saturday's total of four personal fouls and two roughing-the-passer penalties isn't nudging up next to Miami's bellwether game when it comes to notoriety -- the 1991 Cotton Bowl, when Erickson's Hurricanes were flagged 10 times either for personal fouls or unsportsmanlike conduct in a 16-penalty victory over Texas. But six ugly penalties is in the ballpark, let's not sell Gholston and co. short.

More encouragingly, Dantonio's players have only a short ways to go to match those Hurricanes' worst off-field crime incident. The Hurricanes weren't wearing ski masks or roughing up co-eds, but back in their bad-ass heyday some 40 Miami players were involved in an on-campus disturbance that could be put down only by 14 squad cars worth of cops and a police dog.

But here's where you can be proud, Sparty. When Sports Illustrated wrote an open letter to Miami's president in 1995 compelling him to shut down his renegade football program, the author cited a Miami Herald story in which it claimed -- in shocking italics! -- that "No fewer than one of every seven scholarship players on last season's team has been arrested while enrolled at your university." Hell, everyone knows the 2009 Sparties had that beat by a mile after ski-maskgate.

As for Miami's other records of notoriety, maybe next year, Hurricanes. Er, Sparties.



October 17th, 2011 at 12:29 PM ^

The whole"Thug U" seems to be more a  part of a general defense mechanism used by the Michigan fanbase than an accurate analysis of Michigan State Football.


What this game showed me is that Michigan is absolutely not there yet. I don't mean in talent wise I mean in terms of understanding the required mentality if you are to be a big time, national program. That is to say, that to be a big time national program is to have several other very good teams that single you out as the biggest game on their schedule and be ready for them to play you tough and nasty. Let's not forget, football is a nasty sport and while MSU played very dirty, they were penalized all day long for that dirty play. Unfortunately Michigan squandered the free yards.


October 17th, 2011 at 2:14 PM ^


They only play this way against Michigan

Really? That's an excuse for this type of play?  I'd say the data outlined above is evidence that this isn't a simple defense mechanism.

The debate isn't whether or not Michigan capitalized, it's the type of play deemed acceptable at MSU, on and off the field.

Dantonio has always stated he runs a clean and disciplined program.  I'd say the evidence is to the contrary.  Even Spielman and the TV announcers were saying with Gholston, Dantonio had better put his money where his mouth is and pull him.  Of course, he didn't.  He's proven that he puts life lessons and discipline aside in order to win games. 



October 17th, 2011 at 3:19 PM ^

But at the same time, one game doesn't make a program. You can't sit there and call a program dirty because of thuggish behavior during one game. "The U" would get into nasty fights game in and game out and that is how they earned that reputation. The unbiased public and national media will view this for what it is, dirty play that ensued as a result of the bitter nature of the rivalry not because of systemic issues within a program. 


Michigan State has taken great strides with it's football program and for Michigan fans to continue their delusions to the contrary is foolish.


October 18th, 2011 at 3:29 AM ^

Because we all know someone in the secondary at MSU wouldn't suggest they are trying to hurt any other quaterbacks and they definitely wouldn't specifically call out an opposing QB by name and tell them to watch out.  And we know their defensive coordinatory wouldn't say they are doing it on purpose. Michigan State could take great strides as a football team if they did it with any integrity. They haven't. That is why they won't ever be relevant on a national level.

coastal blue

October 16th, 2011 at 7:35 PM ^

Would be confined to a topic of bitching and no one would give a damn beyond that.

Because we lost, Spartan thuggery is a nice distraction for some people who are trying to draw the focus away from us blowing a very winnable game.

As you said, everyone understands Dantonio's mentality. The best form of revenge would have been a victory yesterday. I'm disgusted that our defense put up numbers that in a seasonal scope, would be good enough for the top 30 in scoring and total defense and it didn't matter as the team was let down by our offensive staff.

This game was my fear before the season started.


October 17th, 2011 at 8:37 AM ^

the "dirty play" would be an afterthought had we won.  Mentioned only when gloating about how we won in spite of said "dirty play."  Complaining about the dirty play after a loss is normal because we feel the need to blame the loss on something other than poor execution (maybe a little poor play-calling)

That being said, who jerks a guys face mask after he's been gang-tackled?  


October 18th, 2011 at 11:54 PM ^

It annoys me when people project their own hypocrisy onto others.  It's particularly common among sports fans who think EVERYONE will forgive a team full of felons led by a fraudster as long as they bring home the trophies.  Bullcrap.

I have an uncle I never met.  He died at the age of 14 from a fastball to the head and my grandparents never completely recovered.  It was an accident, but I have a very, very solid idea of where "sport" ends and life-or-death begins.  You never, NEVER cross that line.

I don't care if Michigan was up by six touchdowns or the fact that it's physically impossible to snap a neck by twisting it; you try to literally KILL someone on the field, I want you dragged out of there in handcuffs and on trial for attempted murder.  I'm actually VERY disappointed in Hoke for downplaying MSU's behavior.  I really don't get this football brotherhood.  It's got that same stench of corruption as so-called "good" cops covering for bad cops.  Or maybe he's trying to be the "tough guy" and not come off as a whiner.  Again I say bullcrap.  They literally tried to kill your QB; now is when you forget about your damn machismo and do the right thing -- at the very least he should be aggressively working with the admins to get that player punished.  Otherwise Ohio State is going to see this and push the limits.  Where's your support for the players then, Hoke??

Football is a sport.  You want life or death, at least do your country some effin' good and go to Afghanistan.


October 16th, 2011 at 6:32 PM ^

Which is surprising, whenever MSU makes a mistake there's fifteen  Sparty No! for dumb penalties and turnovers.  Serioulsy this is MSU's M.O. , getting dumb penalties in key spots.

A shame we couldnt cash in on their stupidity.


October 16th, 2011 at 7:13 PM ^

The Big Ten should adopt these rules:

1.  Two personal fouls is an automatic disqualification.  Further, anyone DQ'd is subject to a review to determine if a suspension is warranted.

2.  If a team receives three personal fouls (including unsportsmanlike conduct) in a game, the coach will be fined.  Any additional PFs increase the amount of the fine.

Even guys making millions don't like to be hit in the pocketbook.

Zoo Blue

October 16th, 2011 at 8:23 PM ^

The problem with such a system is that many personal fouls do not warrant such a reaction, pass interference for one. PI calls are often iffy and pose very little danger to the players. By making a rule causing additional penalties after two or three would drastically change games where teams run passing spreads. Such a rule would cause prevent defenses from playing agressive in pass coverage diluting the on the field product.


October 16th, 2011 at 8:31 PM ^

In theory, I think this sounds like a good idea, but I think in practice there would have to be some way of separating personal fouls that fall into the category that could carry additional penalties and those that don't.  For example, I don't think there would be too much objection to someone with 2 personal fouls that involved roughing the passer/kicker or late hits being ejected from the game, but if someone gets 2 UCs for TD celebrations in the end zone (or on their way to the end zone, ugh), it doesn't seem like that should warrant ejection and potential further suspensions.


October 17th, 2011 at 4:00 PM ^

It doesn't usually happen by the same player twice in a game, though.  One PF, okay - maybe that's just a little overaggressiveness.  But there shouldn't be two.  And to make sure you don't have multiple guys getting their one PF in, the head coach should be fined starting with the third one.


October 16th, 2011 at 9:52 PM ^

I like the compilation.  It gives lie to the claim that such incidents are rare and isolated. I would like to see a similar compilation for the off-field stuff though, too.  Then start spreading the word about what the Spartans are like.  As Mglobules suggests, lets make it stick. It's time others were aware of the situation. Shining a light on such activity is the best way to help prevent it from continuing.  Maybe once a few administrators and donors to MSU see what the football team's ways are doing to the reputation of the school, they'll step up.  Of course, the liklier outcome is circle the wagons, besmirch the messenger, and spin, spin, spin like OSU did with its football woes.  Still, if the public gets enough information, no amount of spin is going to hide the truth.

Philip A. Duey

October 16th, 2011 at 10:48 PM ^

a similar chart for the UM streak from 2002-2007. The Point, The Point, The Point is that you win with class and lose with class.  Sparty was playing "chippy" as they say in hockey even back then IIRC, and yet Michigan was still able to beat them without stooping to their level.  

I was able to go through the boxscores for 2002-2007.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find any descriptions of the penalties per se to find the UC/PF/RP, etc., but FWIW:


Year          UM                        MSU
                  Penalties Yards Penalties Yards
2002         4                 35       6                  71
2003         4                 29       7                  75
2004         7                 74       14               123
2005         2                 7          5                 27
2006         3                 25       11               87
2007         4                 45       9                 71
Avg.          4.00            35.83  8.67          75.67

Sparty averaged more than twice as many flags and penalty yards per game than M during the 6-year win streak.  It is an engrained part of MSU's philosophy to play chippy when beating us, and chippy when losing to us.  Michigan doesn't need to do things like jumping on players after the whistle, twisting face masks, and the like.  We can still beat Sparty, even in close games like we had in '03, '04, '05, and '07, without resorting to that sort of nonsense.  

Year         UM                        MSU
                 Penalties Yards Penalties Yards

2008        7                70       7                52
2009        2                15       8                94
2010        3                35       6                65
2011        5                40       13             124
Avg.          4.25          40.0    8.50           83.75

Over the past 4 years, no real difference; still a 2-1 "advantage" for Sparty in terms of total penalties and yards.  Over the 10 year period, State outflagged us every year except 2008, when we tied for total flags and got 18 more penalty yards.  Not to excuse our behavior in 2008, but you will recall that it was our worst year in over half a century.  Still, Sparty managed to maintain their affinity for yellow (perhaps they selected the wrong alternate color for the NikePro jerseys?) while beating 2, arguably 3 of the worst Michigan teams in a generation. 

Michigan State Spartans, you moan about "national respect" and talk about "walking the streets" with heads held high.  You can beat Michigan from now until doomsday, but until you shape up your behavior on and off the field, you will never be respected in your own state, much less nationally.  Which is a shame because you are in fact the better football team than us right now.


October 17th, 2011 at 9:53 PM ^

this is the same data Sparty uses to claim that they get the shaft from the officials.  I have heard the theme from them for decades that Michigan gets all the calls - or doesn't get stuff called that should be.

I happen to agree with you, I'm just sayin...


October 17th, 2011 at 7:41 AM ^

You can only compare msu and Miami in terms of dirty play and criminal elements. As a team, there's no comparison. The U was miles better. State is still looking at an 8-4 season before the wheels come off next year.


October 18th, 2011 at 5:54 PM ^

Here's the difference - Michigan is a program; MSU is a short-term team.  Your team did well to capitalize on the RR era/error, but what do you have to show for it now?  How's your recruiting class look?  You'll be lucky to hit the top half of the B1G.  How's your reputation?  Dirty.  Criminal.  Classless.

Denard will graduate and move on to play some weird hybrid position in the NFL.  We're already loaded at QB for the future (Gardner, prior #1 and then Morris, 2013 #1).  So, yeah, Denard is going to miss more passes, but he's a part of a program built with class and integrity.  Anyone going to care about MSU when Cousins is selling shoes at Sibley's?


October 17th, 2011 at 11:30 AM ^

Dantonio: William, I want him out of commission.
Gholston: But Sensei, I can beat this guy!
Dantonio: I don't want him beat.
Gholston: But I'll be disqualified!
Dantonio: [icily] Out of commission.


October 17th, 2011 at 11:45 AM ^

Sorry, Thug U (MSU) is 43rd in NCAA stats for penalty yards.  We just don't like you, and it shows.  Sorry.

On the other hand, UM is 99th in penalty yards.  Good going guys.  Must be nice to know you really are under control.  It must be nice for other teams to know they'll be treated so nice.  Do you provide pillows and sammiches, too?…


October 17th, 2011 at 2:54 PM ^

Your program is a disgrace and you should be ashamed of yourself. The fact that you're not says a lot about you. If you are pleased with how your coaches and team has handled itself, you are a pathetic class-less human being. 

I'm not talking about the game or the result of the game. Michigan State outplayed Michigan and deserved to win. Michigan did not take advantage or your thuggish penalties and that is Michigan's fault. 

If you are proud of the way your team handles itself and the example your coaching staff sets, however, you are a fucking loser. A disgrace to society and a waste of skin and bones. Go fuck yourself, eat shit, and die.