How Can The MSU-Michigan Rivalry Ever Go Back After This?
It's hard to imagine a future when Michigan's intrastate college football rivalry isn't still tainted by Tunnelgate.
It will be several generations before the chief memory associated with MSU-Michigan is no longer the fight in the Big House tunnel. Trouble with the Snap, Little Brother, No. 1 vs. No One — those all take a distant backseat to the images from Saturday night.
It's obvious that things have reached a critical mass of toxicity in this rivalry. Players simply cannot swing fists — or, worse, helmets — as some Spartans did. Players also must stop calling out opposing coaches by name, and prioritizing rubbing it in the faces of the other side instead of celebrating with teammates in the immediate aftermath of winning, as Michigan has done.
That doesn't mean the rivalry has to be nice. It doesn't, nor should it have to be pleasant. MSU-Michigan should be personal and harsh. It's a rivalry with more than 100 years worth of slights — perceived or otherwise — and hurt feelings. The angst between the two football programs is rooted in the history of the two universities, which have butted heads since practically the Civil War era, pun unintended.
But the rivalry shouldn't be violent, above all else. And to a lesser extent, it also shouldn't be at the point where one head coach is openly campaigning for criminal charges against opposing players as if he's a legal expert or even knows close to enough of the details to make such serious claims.
With everything that's happened since the final whistle Saturday night at Michigan Stadium, it's hard not to wonder how the rivalry can ever go back from here.