As may know, one of the more talked about topics from this past weekend in college football was the level of nastiness that Michigan State brought to their game against Michigan. It helped them get the victory but Spartan LB William Gholston’s actions in particular are being further scrutinized. State is starting its own investigation of whether Gholston merits punishment for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Two actions by Gholston that were flagged as personal fouls are at the center of the review. First is when he punched Michigan offensive lineman Taylor Lewan after a play was over. The second is when after a play was dead and several Spartans had piled on Denard Robinson. Then Gholston jumps on the pile and grabs Robinson’s helmet, twisting it and Denard’s head as well.
The icing on the cake in all of this is Matt Millen. Why Millen you might say? The link goes to an ESPN article with a video of Millen, Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit discussing what Michigan State should do about Gholston’s actions. Millen blabbers on about how nothing should be done, that it’s part of the game and that he did it when he was playing. Really Matt? Really? This coming from a guy whose mishandling of the Lions set the franchose back a few years. Why is even considered an ‘expert’? Even Herbstreit thinks that there should be some punishment and that there’s no excuse for the helmet twist. Fowler is incredulous, even saying to Millen ‘you’re out of your mind’. They both jab at Millen for his stupidity, who procedes to do his best
So what kind of punishment should Gholston receive? As the article states, the Big Ten’s first definition of unsportsmanlike conduct is striking a player, fan, coach or ref. Illinois LB Johnathan Brown was suspended for such a strike against Northwestern on October 1st. He was suspended for 1 game. That example serves as a precedent in the Gholston case. He did just that to Lewan, so that’s one game missed. The helmet twist was uncalled for with the play already over and its not like Denard could defend himself, he did have a bunch of guys piled on top of him. So let’s say that’s another game, making it a two game suspension.
So why two games? Why that many when football is already a nasty sport? Yes there’s physicality involved, but no player expects t0 get punched or have a strike come out of nowhere. If Gholston had twisted Denard’s helmet and thus his head any farther he could have caused serious damage to his neck. He clearly did both of those actions intentionally. The Big Ten, and the NCAA for that matter, have a duty to protect student-athletes and not handing down some sort of punishment only makes others think they can get away with it.