Want to see the most unsportsmanlike act on a football field thus far in the 2012 Big Ten season? There's video, and it's beyond bad. It's Michigan State lineman Jack Allen, a highly regarded freshman backup, going after Ohio State star defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins in a pile after the whistle—and trying to gouge his eyes.
There's no need for language like "appears to" or "possibly" here. It is an eye gouge. See for yourself.
That is a persistent, sustained effort by Allen to get his hand inside Hankins' face mask and at his eyes. There is no conceivable excuse for that. And it also seems an awful lot like center Travis Jackson is holding Hankins down so Allen can perform the eye gouge, but the complicity there is a lot harder to prove. One does wonder what Jackson was doing if it wasn't an overt attempt to not let Hankins get away, though.
This behavior by Allen (and possibly by Jackson) cannot be tolerated. It is 100 percent unsportsmanlike and demeans the integrity of the Michigan State football program. It has no place in football—not even in the romanticized ugliness that the lore of pre-1980 NFL inhabits. It is a pure disgrace.
According to ESPN.com, Urban Meyer said that his program has sent a tape of the incident to the Big Ten. That's a good first step by Ohio State. Mark Dantonio can't wait for the Big Ten to act on this one. Not after he refused to suspend Will Gholston for throwing a punch at Taylor Lewan (Gholston was atop the depth chart the very next week), only to have the conference suspend Gholston for a game.
How should Jack Allen be punished?
Dantonio has got to show a higher level of integrity than that here, and that means suspending Allen immediately. Make it two games. Send a lesson about what will or won't be tolerated in the Michigan State program. If Dantonio waits for the Big Ten to act again, that will send its own message. And that message will be, "At Michigan State, we punt on discipline."
And what kind of lowlife goes for the eyes, anyway? That's even worse than aiming below the belt.
At any rate, Jackson is done for the year (and likely so too are Michigan State's division title hopes with that injury), so it won't make any sense to suspend him for any games. At the very least, he deserves a pretty stern lecture for what appears to be his role in this awful incident, but at the end of the day, that wasn't his hand clawing at Johnathan Hankins' face.
As for Allen? Mark Dantonio needs to punish him swiftly and severely, because now is the type of moment that defines what a football program stands for. And if you're not the kind of coach who's brave enough to drop the hammer on an unsportsmanlike act like that, what kind of coach are you?