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Jim Harbaugh calls Mark Dantonio’s team ‘bush league’ after pregame dustup

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It’s the latest installment in their growing history of beef.

USA Today Sports

After No. 6 Michigan overcame a bunch of bad omens to win at No. 24 Michigan State on Saturday, Jim Harbaugh had some icy words for Mark Dantonio. Harbaugh was referring to a pregame flareup between members of the two teams, which briefly got (slightly) physical.

I’ll explain the whole thing in a second, but what Harbaugh said:

“Clotheslined two of our guys,” Harbaugh said, talking about some Michigan State players.

“Total bush league. Apparently Coach Dantonio was 5 yards behind it all, smiling. I think it’s bush league. That’s my impression of it.”

Here is footage of Dantonio, smiling as Harbaugh described on the right side of the video:

Dantonio responded a short time later, when a reporter brought up Harbaugh’s comments.

“That’s BS,” the coach said.

What?

“You heard me. That’s BS.”

The Monday after the game, Harbaugh doubled down on the bush league comment and responded directly to Dantonio’s “BS” soundbite.

“Both teams, you share the field. Each has a sideline, each gets half of the field to warm up on. Michigan State locked arms and used every inch of the field in their walk lock with the attempt of going through or over our guys in a physical manner. To call that unsportsmanlike or to call the bush league is putting it mildly. That could have been a real unfortunate incident. As I said, it’s the opposite of ‘B.S.’, coach (Dantonio) said it was B.S., but that’s not B.S., that’s fact and I think it’s something now that the two athletic directors really need to get to get together and talk about. I’ll go one step further and use coach Dantonio’s words from a few years back, ‘it’s not a product of the team, but their program, and again that’s using his words, but that could have been an unfortunate deal.”

So, what’s that all about? Let’s go back to the few hours before the game, when Michigan State took a team walk at Spartan Stadium.

A few Michigan players stayed on the field during that walk. That led to a dustup:

Was Dantonio really smiling during all of that? Well, it looks like it.

Let’s enhance:

I see a smile there, yeah. That’s just me.

Michigan put the blame on Michigan State and said the Spartans roughed up a few Wolverines during the mini-fray that ensued on the field:

Michigan linebacker Devin Bush then tried to mess up the Spartan logo at midfield, kicking and dragging at it with his spikes in an attempt to pull up grass.

Michigan’s tried to deface the Spartans’ field before.

Let’s flash to 2014:

Yeah: a spike in the field! An enraged Dantonio later had his players run up the score on the Wolverines in a 35-11 Spartan win. Then, he said of Brady Hoke’s program:

Anyway, some chippiness continued into the game.

When the game started, it started hot:

There were some heavy hits and vaguely taunt-like moments sprinkled throughout.

When it was all over, look where Michigan celebrated:

Right on the logo Bush had tried so hard to mess up with his shoes.

And, of course, Dantonio and Harbaugh have their own history.

They’ve litigated some things in the media before.

In 2017, Michigan State got passed over for an Outback Bowl bid Michigan got, despite the Spartans having a better record and a head-to-head win. So, Dantonio said:

And Harbaugh shot back:

And Dantonio subtweeted back:

How do we know that was a response to Harbaugh’s barb? It was reference to this somewhat famous Dantonio comment from his first year in East Lansing, when he predicted that the Spartans would beat up on the Wolverines frequently going forward.

That’s exactly what’s happened, though it didn’t on Saturday.