Wednesday, September 27, 2006

His Methods Unsound | by Jay

You know something, man, I know something that you don't know. That's right, jack. The man is clear in his mind, but his soul is mad. Oh yeah. He hates all this, he hates it! But the man's...he reads poetry out loud, alright? And a voice! A voice...

I mean, what are they going to say, man, when he's gone, huh? Because he dies, when it dies, man, when it dies, he dies. What are they going to say about him? What, are they going to say, he was a kind man, he was a wise man, he had plans, he had wisdom? Bullshit, man! Am I going to be the one, that's going to set them straight? Look at me: wrong!

-- Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now

One final bit of zaniness before we move along to Purdue. On Monday, Coach John L. Smith of the Michigan State Spartans kicked off his press conference with this little ditty:
Michigan State coach John L. Smith's news conference Monday opened with a video presentation to dispute what MSU interpreted as Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis suggesting he had been slapped in the face by a MSU player during a sideline altercation in the second quarter.

Weis went on the field and pleaded with game officials who were trying to sort out the penalties at the time. A replay shows Weis telling the officials he had been struck in the face, and the implication was that it was one of the Spartans who did it.

"I'm not going to contend that anybody is lying, but you take a look at the film," Smith said.

During a post-game news conference, Weis reiterated that he had been struck during the incident, but he then clarified his stand Sunday by adding he wasn't certain it was a Michigan State player.

"Charlie Weis has never said it was anybody from Michigan State," said John Heisler, a senior associate athletic director at Notre Dame.

The video presented by Michigan State showed the incident from various angles.

"That's a very serious allegation," MSU associate athletic director John Lewandowski said, referring to Weis. "Coach Smith demanded a full investigation. That type of behavior by one of our players won't be tolerated.

"… If you look at the complete video from every angle possible, below and above, at no time does he (Weis) come in contact with any player from Michigan State. We're trying to get our players' reputation cleared."

Smith said the video has been sent to the Big Ten. He indicated he thinks it's up to Notre Dame to decide what to do with Klunder and Powlus for their involvement.

"If it was us doing that … the league would probably step in and do something, suspend (someone)," Smith said. "But I don't know, they don't have a league. Who knows what's going to happen?"

Weis' weekly news conference is scheduled for today. Brian Hardin, Notre Dame's sports information director for football, said he hadn't seen the video, but he believes the Notre Dame administrators (Klunder and Powlus) were trying to separate the MSU players from the Irish players so the incident wouldn't escalate.

The incident actually did escalate after Trannon got pulled from behind by Klunder.

As for his players' role, Smith said, "They didn't throw a punch in the whole deal. Their quarterback's head is under the bench. They're over there to help protect him and get him out of there."

Smith said he was angry with the officials, who were from the Big Ten, for calling a personal-foul against Trannon that wiped out the 15-yard penalty against Notre Dame for the original late hit.

"I thought the call (by the officials) was wrong," Smith said. "You listen to a cockin' bull story (from Weis) and you change it and now you make it a no-call after a kid gets hit like that out of bounds, it's wrong."
Yes, this is what most consumes him: not the upcoming game with Illinois, but settling scores and refuting perceived slights from Charlie Weis. If you're courageous, click here for the presser feed to see JLS in all his raving mania.

Look, John-el, here's what happened. Ndukwe hit Stanton and sent him flying. The refs threw the flag for a late hit. Fair enough. And then a sequence of events transpired. (If you have the game on tape, you can clearly see each of these events as they unfold.)

1. After the tackle, Trannon and a few other Spartans run into the ND sideline. Trannon gets in Ndukwe's face in the middle of the bench area. Ndukwe backs off.

2. Trannon remains to stand over Stanton. For what reason? Who the hell knows.

3. Ron Powlus (or someone who looks just like him; the article above indicates it may have been Chad Klunder) is herding MSU players out of the bench area. A smart move, as the longer they are there the more opportunity there is for shenanigans.

4. Powlus grabs Trannon by the jersey and corrals him back towards the field. He is not instigating anything. He is not picking a fight with Trannon. He is clearing the area. He is trying to maintain order in a chippy environment.

5. Trannon reacts by pushing past several people and going after Powlus, shoving him in the back. Trannon is picking a fight (for the second time), this time with a coach without pads who was trying to clear the area. While he did not "throw a punch", as JLS states, he definitely shoves Powlus in the back, who has turned away to clear more players from the area. Trannon is clearly an out-of-control menace at this point and must be controlled.

6. Ryan Harris gets in his face. Polian's (or someone who looks like him) reaction is to grab Trannon's facemask and pull him down. Maybe not the wisest thing to do, but it is in self-defense as much as anything, as Trannon seems willing to fight anyone/everyone at this point.

7. A few players including Chris Frome get in between them and shove Trannon out to the field. Trannon's helmet is pulled off. Trannon grabs Frome's facemask, right in the face of the ref, who throws a flag. This is the penalized incident, not anything to do with Charlie complaining.

8. A moment later you can see CW talking to the ref, and you can clearly read the words "I got hit in the face". This is well after the flag was thrown.

So the flag wasn't a result of Charlie talking to the refs. Bottom line, Trannon is the bad actor here, not the Irish coaches, and ND should do nothing punitive against Powlus, Polian, or any other Irish player or coach as a result. What really galls me is the lack of respect Trannon had towards the opposing coach Powlus; Powlus had removed a couple of Spartan players from the sideline without confrontation, but when Trannon is ushered away, he retaliates and tries to start a fight.

It is unfortunate that Smith chose to play the victim, put all the blame on Notre Dame, and gloss over the fact that without Trannon charging into the bench area, and then shoving Ron Powlus, there would be no controversy. It is especially disturbing that this would the main focus of his press conference, in light of a host of issues that, unlike this event, actually contributed to the Spartan collapse. We maintain that John L. Smith is bad for Michigan State football, and we hope they replace him at their earliest opportunity. The Spartans deserve better, and judging from the discussions we had in East Lansing after the game, many Spartan fans agree.