Hoke, Michigan Call Stake Issue ‘Overblown’

Michigan coach Brady Hoke defends decision to apologize to Michigan State and Mark Dantonio over the stake that was driven into the field at Spartan Stadium Saturday. Hoke also calling the entire issue, overblown.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The stake heard round the world.

By now the moment has gone viral and back, from East Lansing to Ann Arbor, local to national media and probably even reached a level of annoyance for many.

That moment? Michigan junior linebacker Joe Bolden violently sticking a tent stake into the grass at Spartan Stadium prior to kickoff Saturday as the team motioned toward the Michigan State sideline.

In the grand scheme of things, the scene and the gesture is a small scale issue compared to Michigan’s 35-11 loss at Michigan State, the sixth in seven tries for the Wolverines, or the now 3-5 record with four to play in the 2014 season.

Either way, the motivational tactic essentially turned pregame middle finger was enough for Michigan coach Brady Hoke to issue an apology to Michigan State and Coach Mark Dantonio Sunday.

“Mark and I have known each other for a long time,” Hoke said Monday at his weekly press conference. “So, me calling him and apologizing for something that really was overblown and had nothing to do with Michigan State, it had to do with the commitment and staking a commitment for our football team.”

“I’m not going to tell you what him and I talked about,” Hoke later added. “The one thing I can tell you, him and I have a lot of respect for each other.”

Immediately following the game at his press conference Hoke said he wasn’t completely aware of what had happened during the incident, pointing out he believed it was “Joe.”

Now two days later and with full visual evidence out there, Hoke says he was aware the team brought the stake out to the field but not soon enough to prevent what transpired.

“Do I regret (or) Joe regret the excitement and emotion?” Hoke asked rhetorically. “I don’t regret him having excitement and emotion about him going to play a football game with a bunch of guys that he’s practiced with for two years.”

“Believe me, no one feels worse than Joe,” Hoke added. “And that wasn’t the intent.”

Then what was the intent?

Spending a week telling reporters Michigan would prepare for Michigan State as if it were any other game, playing down the importance of it over any other, the Wolverines finally showcased some vitriol, even if it was poorly calculated and a failed attempt at intimidation.

“I think we all take it seriously,” Hoke said. “And I think it was; all last week our guys heard ‘well you don’t seem mad, you don’t seem angry.’ That’s all they heard.

“My point is, I think emotionally our guys understand what this game is all about.”

And right now, the game is as much about Michigan State’s dominance in the rivalry as anything else.

Hoke says there won’t be any discipline handed down in Bolden’s direction, likely, and finally putting an end to “stake gate.”

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