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Michigan-Michigan State football rivalry is out of control, and everyone involved should look in the mirror

Saturday's game between the Spartans and Wolverines was marred by multiple post-game incidents...

Early last week, I wrote a story about the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry in the years following former U-M tailback Mike Hart's infamous "little brother" comment directed at the Spartans after the 2007 game.

In that piece, I wrote that Hart's quote, and the follow-up response by former MSU head coach Mark Dantonio, had made the rivalry "nastier and better".

In hindsight, given the way Saturday night's game between Michigan and Michigan State concluded, it was a poor choice and a wrongful opinion on my part to refer to the growing tension, disdain and contempt between these two in-state opponents as "better" for the rivalry.

After two videos of two separate post-game incidents that occurred in the tunnel at Michigan Stadium surfaced on social media — one of Michigan cornerback Ja'Den McBurrows being attacked by several Michigan State players, and the other of MSU head coach Mel Tucker being touched in a demeaning and disrespectful manner on his way to the opponents' locker room — it has become abundantly clear that the toxicity of this rivalry has reached dangerous levels.

That's not hyperbole.

McBurrows, a 19-year-old young man, could have been seriously or critically hurt by what happened in the tunnel at Michigan Stadium on Saturday night. The visual footage of a large group of human beings attacking a defenseless, individual human being was disturbing.

On Sunday, another video of a physical altercation surfaced, in which Michigan starting cornerback Gemon Green can be seen being struck by a helmet swung by a Michigan State player:

Once again in this video, we clearly see a human being engaged with at least two others, and being struck with force by a blunt object — the helmet.

I don't care which colors the human beings were wearing. I don't care how the incident got started. I don't care who was initially at fault.

The two young men who were surrounded in these videos were in real, physical danger during those moments, and that should never, ever happen at the end of a football game.

The incident involving Tucker was very different, but equally unacceptable.

Michigan State's head coach was leaving the field, after what I can fairly assume was a frustrating and emotional defeat, when a man who I assume is a Michigan fan reached down and touched the top of his head. Tucker, completely understandably, reacted to this by swatting the man's hand away before reaching up towards him, possibly pointing him out to security guards or police officers in the area.

The fan was clearly intentionally trying to antagonize and belittle Tucker which, again, has no place in any sport or even every day life among adults. 

"Keep your hands to yourself" is something most of us are taught in childhood. The fact that this grown adult believed it was okay for him to reach down and tap the head of a coach (or anybody) after a game like that or any other circumstance, is moronic and tone-deaf.

The actions that took place in the tunnel at Michigan Stadium occurred following two weeks of pre-game buildup, in which opposite fan bases of this rivalry lobbed barbs and insults at one another continually on social media over the previous 14 days.

Sure, "trash talk" has been a part of athletic rivalries since the beginning of time, but the pure vitriol of what is said between people in the days leading up to games like this one is pretty disgusting.

Listen, I love rivalry games. I've often heard and repeated that rivalries are the lifeblood of collegiate athletics. I still believe that to true. But what happened in Ann Arbor last night cannot be brushed off or accepted as, "just what makes a rivalry, a rivalry."

Whether you are a fan, player, coach, alumni or beat reporter, we all need to take a look in the mirror and check ourselves. That absolutely, 100 percent includes me as well.

The piece I wrote, and what I considered to be "good" for the rivalry less than a week ago feels grossly inappropriate following the post-game events that occurred on Saturday night, and I need to be better.

With that said, there's a difference between back-and-forth chatter, trophy celebrations and the like, and what happened in the tunnel at the Big House. 

Everyone needs to be better. Mel Tucker needs to be better. Jim Harbaugh needs to be better. Players on both sides need to be better. Beat reporters defending this, that or the other thing on both sides need to be better. And the fanbases need to be better.

The Michigan-Michigan State football rivalry has become one of the dirtiest, ugliest and now dangerous rivalries in collegiate athletics, and that is decidedly NOT good for this state nor these universities.