Seven Michigan State football players charged in tunnel melee

Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK
0 Comments

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Seven Michigan State football players have been charged in the postgame melee in Michigan Stadium’s tunnel last month, according to a statement from the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office.

The most serious charge is against cornerback Khary Crump, who faces a felony count of felonious assault. The charges against the six others are misdemeanors. Linebacker Itayvion “Tank” Brown, safety Angelo Grose, cornerback Justin White, defensive end Brandon Wright and defensive end Zion Young are each charged with one count of aggravated assault, and linebacker Jacoby Windmon faces one count of assault and battery.

No Michigan players are facing charges, which were announced ahead of the final regular-season games. No. 3 Michigan plays rival No. 2 Ohio State on the road Saturday with the Big Ten East Division title at stake. A few hours later, the Spartans close the season out at No. 11 Penn State, needing a win to become bowl eligible.

Scuffles broke out in the Michigan Stadium tunnel on Oct. 29 after the then-No. 4 Wolverines beat the Spartans 29-7. Social media posts showed Michigan State players pushing, punching and kicking Michigan’s Ja'Den McBurrows in and near a hallway that doesn’t lead to either locker room. Brown, Grose and Young are seen on video getting physical with McBurrows.

McBurrows and defensive back Gemon Green went up the tunnel, walking alongside the Spartans, after the game while much of Michigan’s team was waving them off the field after beating their in-state rivals for the first time in three years.

Green, in another post, is surrounded by police while shouting across the tunnel at Michigan State players.

Crump in one video appears to swing his helmet at a Michigan player. That could account for the more serious charge, which carries a maximum of four years in prison. The state law describes felonious assault as an attack “using knife, iron bar, club, brass knuckles or other dangerous weapon without intending to commit murder or to inflict great bodily harm.”

A conviction for a misdemeanor count of assault carries a prison term of up to one year, while misdemeanor assault and battery carries a maximum sentence 93 days behind bars.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has said one of the players, who he did not identify, might have had a broken nose. He also said Green was punched by a Spartans player and McBurrows was attacked when he tried to help.

The statement from the prosecutor’s office provided no detail on the allegations, including who is accused of hitting whom. It added that the office will have no further comment as the case proceeds. It is not clear when the charged players will make initial appearances in court.

Michigan State’s athletic director and football coach did not immediately return requests for comment.

Michigan president Santa J. Ono said Wednesday in a statement that the school appreciated “the thoughtful, deliberate approach from the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office to this unfortunate incident.”

“We also want to express our concern for all the players involved, especially those who were injured,” Ono said. “The University of Michigan will continue to cooperate fully with any additional reviews of this matter.”

An attorney representing Green, Tom Mars, said after the charges were filed that he was “not at all surprised by the prosecutor’s decision.”

Asked if his client might sue over the melee, Mars said that after conferring with Green and his father, they agreed with his recommendation “not to take any action about the tunnel incident until the season is over.”

“I don’t want any of this to be a distraction to Michigan football and neither does Gemon,” Mars said.

Michigan State coach Mel Tucker suspended eight players – including Malcolm Jones, who is not being charged – for their role in the melee.

After the Oct. 29 incident, Michigan State President Samuel Stanley publicly apologized for the “violent” skirmish.

“I’m extremely saddened by this incident and the unacceptable behavior depicted by members of our football program,” Stanley said then in a statement. “On behalf of Michigan State University, my heartfelt apology to the University of Michigan and the student athletes who were injured.”

Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. returning for 2023 season

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

SEATTLE – Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. said Sunday he will return to the school for his sixth and final season of eligibility in 2023.

Penix announced his decision on social media and it was a surprising one at that. Penix was the national leader in passing this season, throwing for 4,354 yards and led Washington’s turnaround. The No. 12-ranked Huskies went 10-2 in the regular season, finished tied for second in the Pac-12 and will face No. 21 Texas in the Alamo Bowl.

Penix will have a chance at setting Washington’s single-season record for yards passing in the bowl game. He also threw 29 touchdowns this season. Because of his performance this season, Penix saw his NFL draft stock rise to where he was being expected to be a second-day pick at the latest.

In his announcement, Penix wrote, “As I look back on this special season we had, I realized there were so many great moments and things to celebrate, but I KNOW there is so much for out there for this team and the job is still not finished. I can’t wait to be playing in Husky Stadium for the 2023 season!”

Penix started his career at Indiana and showed flashes of stardom while also battling injuries. He transferred to Washington after the 2021 season, a move that reunited him with new Huskies’ coach Kalen DeBoer, who was Penix’s offensive coordinator for one season at Indiana.

North Texas fires Littrell after .500 record over 7 years

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

DENTON, Texas – Bowl-bound North Texas has fired coach Seth Littrell, who went 44-44 over seven seasons.

University president Neal Smatresk said Sunday night that the decision to make the move came after a thorough assessment of the program.

The Mean Green are 7-6 this season after losing 48-27 to UTSA in the Conference USA championship game Friday night.

Phil Bennett, their defensive coordinator the past two seasons, was named interim head coach. North Texas plays Boise State in the Frisco Bowl on Dec. 17.

The 44-year-old Littrell had one year left on his contract in what was his first head coaching job. He was the youngest coach in Conference USA and one of the youngest at the FBS level when he arrived after two seasons as offensive coordinator at North Carolina with UNT coming off a 1-11 season at the time.

While the Mean Green are going to their sixth bowl since Littrell first got there, they haven’t won any of those yet. The bowl in his debut season came after only five wins since there weren’t enough bowl-eligible teams to fill all of the slots. Consecutive nine-win seasons followed in 2017 and 2018, but they then had three consecutive losing records before this year.

North Texas also has an interim athletic director after Wren Baker was named as West Virginia’s AD last week.

Smatresk said Jared Mosley, the chief operating officer of UNT athletics, will serve as interim AD. The university is working with a search firm to find Baker’s successor.