“Attitude reflects leadership”
That line from Remember the Titans is a proper narrative for the behavior exhibited by several members of Michigan State’s football program after falling to Michigan, 29-7 Saturday. Four Spartan players have been suspended for their participation in the tunnel assault on Michigan defensive backs Ja’Den McBurrows and Gemon Green, and more punishments will likely follow additional film review. There could also be legal repercussions for the most egregious actors, but neither accountability measure should deflect scrutiny of a culture that seems to have been an incubator for petulance instead of perspective.
If a single player steps out of line, that doesn’t reflect upon the coach. But if several players do, especially violently, then that absolutely reflects upon the coach. Any talk about Michigan’s tunnel policies and procedures is a deflection. Questions about why McBurrows and Green ran up the tunnel after the victory is an even bigger one. Win or lose, whether the smack talk is searing or minimal, whether your opponent shows you up or shows you mercy, the reactions after the game should be the same. “See you next year.” Does the fact that Michigan fulfilled J.J. McCarthy’s pregame promise to “keep our foot on the gas pedal no matter the score” make that harder? Absolutely. But that’s when a program with an insatiable appetite for chips is supposed to accept the Frito Lay factory it was just gifted, and use it as fuel for the next matchup.
Of course, not every player arrives with that kind of perspective. It’s up to the coach to teach it. Tucker clearly has not done so, at least not before Saturday. Scrutiny of the tone he sets will help assure that he does, moving forward.