Goodness gracious, B1G.

I’m glad to see the conference decided to step in at the eleventh hour and smack its gavel like it did something in response to the Michigan-Michigan State pregame scuffle. Bravo. Congratulations on showing a couple of bitter rivals how to play nice.

The B1G’s decision to fine MSU $10,000 and to publicly reprimand the likes of Mark Dantonio, Jim Harbaugh and Devin Bush for the roles they played in the drama over the weekend is comical on so many levels.

This quote from B1G commissioner Jim Delany in the official release reads like something your kindergarten gym teacher would say:

“We are fortunate the series of events that occurred prior to the Michigan-Michigan State game did not escalate into a much more serious matter. While traditions hold great importance on our campuses, traditions do not supersede the values of good sportsmanship or the requirement for player safety. We expect more from our coaches, students and administrators and will continue to work with our institutions to prioritize good sportsmanship moving forward.”

(Fun fact: My mom is a kindergarten gym teacher and she’s awesome at it.)

That quote from Delany is dripping with irony. Before I launch into full takedown mode, I should probably preface the rest of this with a few thoughts I had on the entire pregame scuffle.

  • I don’t care who started it/what the pregame schedule was supposed to be
  • I care even less if Mark Dantonio smiled or not
  • Jim Harbaugh is allowed to stand up for his team
  • Michigan State fans aren’t wrong by saying Bush disrespected their field

Got it? Good.

Let’s get back to the matter at hand here. That is, the B1G decided four days after seeing this unfold that it needed to step in and take action to “prioritize good sportsmanship.”

What that suggests is that the conference waited for both Dantonio and Harbaugh to apologize for their rival teams yelling at each other and having to be separated during the pregame walkthrough. Incredibly, they did not. Instead, Harbaugh called MSU’s pregame behavior “bush league” and Dantonio responded by saying that was “B.S.”

Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

This had the feel of heavyweight champs barking at each other before and after a big fight. Why? Because that’s what it was.

This was a showdown with big-time B1G East implications between in-state schools that obviously don’t like each other. Of course things were going to get chippy. This is a rivalry, and a darn good one. All that pregame drama did was add to that belief.

According to Nielsen Media Research, the game got a 3.7 rating. Even though it was a noon kickoff that had a lengthy rain delay, it still was FOX’s second-highest rated game of the 2018 season.

On a completely unrelated note, it was Delany who announced before the 2017 season that the B1G agreed to a new TV deal with FOX and ESPN worth $2.64 billion.

But sure, tell me that Delany wasn’t sitting somewhere with hands in his pockets lined with money, watching Michigan-MSU without his eyes lighting up. Right.

I’d argue that from the pregame scuffle through the postgame press conference, there wasn’t a more entertaining B1G game to watch all year.

Well, Kirk Ferentz might not agree with that notion:

You know what looks bad for the conference? College football Twitter mocking the B1G noon kickoffs that feature more punts than points. Ferentz is plenty familiar with that (the more punts than points part, not college football Twitter).

No, I don’t care what Ferentz or Delany say. Saturday was a much-needed shot of life for the conference. Nobody got hurt — except a field that took a few minutes to clean up — and it was a war of words that turned into must-see TV. For one afternoon, midwest politeness took a back seat to some WWE-style entertainment.

But that was just oh, so offensive for the B1G. It was apparently more offensive than players and coaches who commit actual crimes. After all, it’s not like a DUI or a sexual assault cover-up warrants a fine or a reprimand from the conference.

Instead, the B1G decides that those are issues that are to be handled internally while due process plays out. Never mind the fact that schools like Michigan State and Ohio State have both been at the center of major sexual assault scandals this calendar year.

Way to fight the good fight, B1G. After all, it’s “good sportsmanship” that’s taking a stand for. Surely what unfolded in East Lansing on Saturday was the real bad look.

Give me a break.

This ultimately turned into a failed PR attempt from the conference. Someone in the B1G offices decided that if nothing is done, it’s condoning fighting before games and coaches not saying politically correct things to each other. Oh, and that it permits midfield logos being destroyed. Can’t forget that.

Even the B1G offices know that fining MSU $10,000 won’t change anything, and neither will the public reprimands. Rivals are gonna still rival. It’s just like the conferences who fine schools when their fans rush the field after an upset win. Meanwhile, network executives are smiling ear to ear after seeing the ratings bonanza that ensues.

It’s hypocritical, it’s petty, it’s naive. Most of all, it’s unnecessary.

The B1G offices can pretend all it wants that this Michigan-Michigan State scuffle was a bad look for the conference.

Or they can see the bigger picture and smack their gavel elsewhere when something bad actually happens.