ROSENGERG: MSU should suspend Gholston

By Michael Rosenberg
Columnist

EAST LANSING — This year’s Michigan State-Michigan game ended in a heap of controversy and bitter feelings, but if we step back and try to be reasonable, I’m sure even the most diehard fans on both sides can agree to blame the media.

There was no controversy about the result: MSU clearly deserved to win. The controversy involves the Spartans’ personal foul. No, the other personal foul. Wait, no, not that one, either. No, no … yes! That one.

Michigan State sophomore William Gholston punched U-M left tackle Taylor Lewan after a play. This has led to speculation that perhaps Gholston should be suspended, and by “speculation,” I mean “Of course he should be.”

This is not complicated. Gholston punched another player. When you do that, you get suspended for the next game. MSU can try to argue that there were extenuating circumstances or that Gholston was provoked. Perhaps he was, but so what?

There is no good reason to punch another player. The Big Ten can’t accept an excuse for Gholston, because after that, everybody else will come up with an excuse, and how does the Big Ten differentiate? It’s impossible.

As of this afternoon, the Big Ten had simply “notified” MSU of a potential unsportsmanlike-conduct violation. But that is usually the first step toward a suspension. The Big Ten prefers that schools issue their own suspensions, and now MSU has a chance to do it.

The Spartans can fight it. They can delay it so MSU coach Mark Dantonio doesn’t have to discuss it. But I don’t think they can avoid it.

It’s unfortunate that Michigan State’s fourth straight victory over Michigan was clouded by four personal fouls and two roughing-the-passer penalties. It would be unfortunate if Gholston has to miss an enormous game against Big Ten favorite Wisconsin this weekend.

But it also was unfortunate that he punched an opposing player. Actions have consequences. It doesn’t make Gholston a bad person nor MSU a thug program.

U-M linebacker Jonas Mouton punched a Notre Dame player two years ago and was suspended for it. Players make mistakes. Of course, Gholston made another big one when he twisted U-M quarterback Denard Robinson’s helmet while Robinson was on the ground. There is no excuse for that; it’s a dirty play by any definition.

Dantonio today was left defending his program instead of extolling it after a big win. He sounded annoyed, and that’s understandable. He said he wants the Spartans to play with emotion, but “the lack of composure is frustrating.”

He should be frustrated. The Spartans got away with their penalties Saturday because they are a better team than Michigan, and their defensive front overwhelmed the Wolverines. If the Spartans display the same foolishness against Wisconsin, they almost surely will lose.

Do you know what would be nice, though? If Dantonio took the lead on this and suspended Gholston, instead of fighting the Big Ten or delaying it. As any Michigan fan can tell you, Dantonio’s history of suspending players is very weak.

This is a chance for Dantonio to show that his program is not just about standing up for his players but standing up for what is right. He even can defend Gholston while he does it.

In my view, the Big Ten has no choice but to suspend William Gholston. The rules are pretty clear. Dantonio does have a choice, though. I hope he makes the right one.

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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