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Mark Dantonio responds to accusation made by former staffer

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A day after an alarming story accused Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio of recruiting a player he was warned could be a potential problem, Dantonio has responded alongside his lawyer. Dantonio defended himself against the claims of former assistant Curtis Blackwell and re-directed to previous comments Dantonio made regarding the player in question.

“The fact that Mr. Blackwell’s contract was not renewed has nothing to do with Auston Robertson,” Dantonio said in a statement on Friday. “Two years ago, I spoke at length about Auston Robertson when he was dismissed from the team in 2017. Rather than engage in a public argument with a former staffer, I refer you to those previous statements. Further, there have been multiple investigations into the program’s handling of sexual assaults, including Jones Day in 2017 and the NCAA in 2018, and they concluded that the program and myself committed no violations.”

Blackwell, a former Michigan State recruiting director, claimed he and multiple coaches asked Dantonio not to continue recruiting Robertson, who was guilty of misdemeanor battery in high school and later was arrested and charged with assault to his girlfriend just after his freshman season in East Lansing. Robertson was later removed from the program.

Dantonio concluded his statement by saying he will have no further comment due to ongoing litigation.

“Mr. Blackwell’s lawsuit concerns his allegations that his contract was not renewed because he refused to co-operate with investigations being conducted by the MSUPD and a law firm hired to evaluate the MSU football program’s compliance with sexual assault reporting policies,” Dantonio’s lawyer, Tom Kienbaum, said in a separate statement. “The lawsuit has nothing to do with the recruitment or actions of any student athletes, including Auston Robertson.”

Northwestern to get RB Isaiah Bowser back for Michigan State game

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As Northwestern gets set to open Big Ten play Saturday, the Wildcats were on the receiving end of some good news on the injury front.

This time last week, Isaiah Bowser was ruled out of the Week 3 matchup with UNLV because of an unspecified knee injury suffered in the season-opening loss to Stanford.  Thursday, Northwestern released its injury report for the Week 4 game against Michigan State and Bowser was not listed.

Additionally, Bowser is listed as the Wildcats’ starting running back on the depth chart.

Bowser’s 54 yards on 10 carries against the Cardinal led the Wildcats.  Last season, he led the team with 866 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.

In replacing Bowser, Drake Anderson ran for 141 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries in the win over the Rebels.

Ex-MSU staffer says coaches warned Mark Dantonio about recruit who later committed assault; Dantonio recruited him anyway

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A bad week for Mark Dantonio keeps getting worse.

Hot on the heels of suffering an inexplicable loss to Arizona State at home on Saturday, the Michigan State head coach is now dealing with the fallout from an ongoing lawsuit against him and the school over one of the many scandals that have occurred in East Lansing in recent years.

In damaging testimony obtained by ESPN, former MSU recruiting director Curtis Blackwell said in court that the head coach was warned by numerous staffers about the potential dangers that recruit Auston Robertson posed but that Dantonio proceeded to offer him a scholarship anyway. The four-star defensive end committed to the Spartans despite an incident of misdemeanor battery in high school and was later arrested and charged with assault of his girlfriend in early 2017 after his freshman season.

Blackwell said in his deposition that multiple assistant coaches asked Dantonio not to offer Robertson a spot on the roster because he had a history of troubling behavior. Blackwell says he witnessed defensive line coach Ron Burton tell Dantonio that he didn’t want Robertson to be on the same campus as his daughter.

“So for Ron Burton to say it was that bad that he didn’t want his daughter around him, I knew he had some real serious sexual issues,” Blackwell said in his deposition.

“An innocent young lady was raped because of a decision … I got blamed,” Blackwell added. “It became Curtis Blackwell’s decision to bring Auston Robertson to campus, when we all know the head coach made the decision to bring him on. He overrode everyone else to bring him on campus.”

Keep in mind that three other players were charged in a separate sexual assault incident prior to Robertson’s that wound up forcing the school to hire an outside law firm to investigate the matter and how such cases were handled by the program in the first place. Dantonio was supposedly cleared in the probe but subsequent reports show that some 16 players have been alleged to have committed similar crimes in the past few years during the head coach’s tenure.

Michigan State loses third left tackle to injury

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If you’re playing on the left side of the offensive line for Michigan State, invest in some industrial-strength bubble wrap immediately.

Cole Chewins and A.J. Arcuri exited summer camp as MSU’s starting and No. 2 left tackles, respectively; the former has missed three games because of a back injury while the latter is dealing with a foot injury that has sidelined him since the start of the season as well.  With those two down, interior lineman Kevin Jarvis moved outside and had started all three games this year thus far.

That streak will end, however, as Jarvis suffered a knee injury in the controversial loss to Arizona State this past Saturday. It’s believed Jarvis will be sidelined for at least six weeks, which would mean a late-October, early-November return.

Jarvis, who missed three games last season because of an injury to the same knee, started seven games at right guard in 2018.  The year before as a true freshman, he started the last 10 games of the season at the same position en route to earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors.

As for Chewins and Arcuri, they have already been ruled out for MSU’s Week 4 game against Northwestern that serves as the Spartans’ Big Ten opener.  It’s possible at least one of those could return in Week 5.

With that trio sidelined, Tyler Higby will get the starting nod against the Wildcats.  The senior started three games at left tackle last season.

Pac-12 admits refs botched Arizona State-Michigan State ending

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No. 24 Arizona State beat Michigan State 10-7 on Saturday, a win that was preserved by a 12-men-on-the-field penalty that wiped away a game-tying field goal for the Spartans. Matt Coghlin‘s second attempt, this one from 47 yards, sailed wide right, allowing the Sun Devils to hold on for the win.

But it turns out there should have been a second penalty called.

The Pac-12 has announced its officials missed a penalty on Arizona State on Coghlin’s second, missed attempt.

“An Arizona State defensive player took a running start and leapt over the kicking team’s line in an attempt to block the kick. In the process, he leapt into the frame of the body of an opponent. The penalty would have been 15 yards from the previous spot and an automatic first down.

In this case, it would have been administered as half the distance to the goal and Michigan State would have been provided one untimed down.”

That penalty would have moved the Spartans up to the Arizona State 14-yard line, giving Coghlin a third attempt from just 31 yards out.

The Pac-12 provided no word on what, if any, internal accountability the officiating crew that missed such a crucial penalty will face.