Northwestern

Hoge: Dantonio drops the ball by reinstating Rucker

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Mark Dantonio

Mark Dantonio (Photo Credit: Getty Images, By: Jonathan Daniel)

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By Adam Hoge–

For most of this season I have praised the entire Michigan State coaching staff.

Mark Dantonio has done a brilliant job in the midst of suffering a mild heart attack in September. His assistants arguably did an even better job in his absence. But Thursday, Dantonio made a horrible and disturbing decision to reinstate defensive back Chris L. Rucker the same day he was released from jail.

Rucker was freed Thursday after serving eight days for a probation violation. He was arrested Oct. 10 for drunken driving, but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving. The arrest was a violation of the 12-month probation sentence he was handed after he was involved in an on-campus assault involving a number of players less than a year ago.

Rucker was suspended immediately and missed the last two games — the second of which occurred while he was in jail — but now he is conveniently reinstated right before Michigan State’s biggest game of the season at Iowa Saturday?

This is exactly the kind of treatment that makes athletes think they have some kind of entitlement. It takes a judge to keep them from playing, but as soon as they are out of jail they can go right back to the football field.

What makes this worse is the “zero tolerance” policy Dantonio preached after the assault in the offseason. He addressed that policy in a statement Thursday regarding Rucker’s reinstatement:

“We have no tolerance for Chris L. Rucker’s actions. I repeat, I have no tolerance for his actions. He was immediately suspended. He has served his civil punishment, and there are other internal disciplinary measures nobody will know about outside the program. Again, zero tolerance does not mean automatic dismissal.”

What a load of garbage. Rucker has been involved in two pretty serious off-the-field incidents, both of which he received a sentence for, and yet you are allowing him to play football two days after being released from jail? If that isn’t tolerance then I don’t what is.

Week 9 Big Ten Football Report:

Illinois 28, Purdue 10: Illinois’ improved defense should lead to a comfortable win in this one. The Boilermakes continue to struggle on both sides of the football so expect the Illini’s mediocre offense to find the end zone enough to make this an easy victory.

Northwestern 38, Indiana 28: These are the type of games that drive NU fans nuts. But the Wildcats looked like a pretty good football team last week against Michigan State before blowing their 17-0 lead. Indiana’s defense is horrible so Northwestern should be able to score a lot of points. And while the ‘Cats defense isn’t spectacular either, it should be able to slow down quarterback Ben Chappell enough to get the win.

Iowa 24, Michigan State 17: These two schools traditionally play close football games. Iowa’s defense was embarrassed a little bit last week by Wisconsin, but I think the Hawkeyes bounce back with a very strong defensive performance against an MSU offense that might be a tad overrated. The Spartans deserve a lot of credit for being undefeated, but who have they played? It took a fake field goal in overtime to beat a bad Notre Dame team and while their win over Wisconsin is impressive, it came at home against a  Badgers team that played an absolutely horrible football game. Michigan State gets exposed Saturday in Iowa City.

Ohio State 45, Minnesota 10: Do we even need to break this one down? I sort of feel bad for Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber, a four-year starter that has had a great career(although he had opportunities to play elsewhere). Minnesota’s defense couldn’t stop Penn State at home, so how does it expect to stop Terrelle Pryor?

Michigan 34, Penn State 28: I’m kind of surprised I’m going this route because the Nittany Lions’ offense has shown a little life lately and Michigan’s defense is not very good. Matt McGloin will get his first career start at quarterback Saturday for Penn State and he looked decent in relief against Minnesota. Still, I’m a huge believer in bye weeks and Michigan has had two weeks to prepare for a team that is mediocre at best. Denard Robinson should have a much better game Saturday as the Wolverines steal a win in Happy Valley.

Adam’s Big Ten Football Report can be heard every Thursday night on The Laurence Holmes Show. For more college football coverage follow Adam Hoge on Twitter @AdamHoge670.

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