One of the Big Ten Conference's best players, Michigan offensive lineman Taylor Lewan was caught playing dirty on several occasions during the Wolverines' 29-6 loss to rival Michigan State over the weekend—but he won't be punished for it.
ESPN's Adam Rittenberg reported that the conference will not take any disciplinary action against Lewan, who was seen twisting the facemask of MSU safety Isaiah Lewis and putting his hands to the face of several other Spartan defenders.
According to Rittenberg's source, the league reviewed the events and elected to not suspend the UM captain.
Lewan was seen blocking with his hands to the face of star Michigan State linebacker Max Bullough and defensive lineman Mark Scarpinato. ESPN cameras also caught the All-American engaging in post-play scuffles with safety Kurtis Drummond and defensive lineman Damon Knox—all of which was shown on-air.
Of those four incidents, none were even the plays most in question. The most glaring transgression came when Lewis was on the ground in a pile at the conclusion of a play and Lewan blatantly grabbed and jerked his facemask.
ESPN's Brad Nessler even commented that he was lucky that he wasn't ejected from the game for his actions.
Should Lewan have been punished for his actions?
And yet, the Big Ten has elected to sit on its hands and do nothing about the incident.
The facemask affair came in a particularly frustrating game for the Wolverines, in which they were held to the worst rushing output in school history: minus-48 yards.
Still, frustration from a bad game doesn't justify unnecessary dirty play.
As reported by Nick Baumgardner of MLive.com, Lewan later apologized for his actions:
I'm not trying to make any excuses for it, absolutely not, what I did was wrong. There's always a different way to go about (a situation), and I should have gone about it a different way.
I lost my composure for a second, and that's not OK to do. That's not representing the University of Michigan the way it should be, and it's not taking pride in the rivalry we have with Michigan State. You have to give it to them, they won, they beat us fair and square.
According to Baumgardner, head coach Brady Hoke met with Lewan about the incident and said it was "unacceptable." But despite it being unacceptable, he accepted it and decided not to punish Lewan.
From Rittenberg's report, Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio accepted Lewan's apology, likening this incident to one in which MSU defensive lineman William Gholston punched Lewan:
Some people may refute [the decision not to suspend Gholston], especially if they wear blue. But they can see how we feel now on the other side of the bench... Football is football. It's a tough game. I accept people's apologies. I don't hold things against people. So, yeah, I accept his apology. No problem.
In that incident two years ago, Dantonio didn't take disciplinary action against Gholston, though he was suspended for one game by the Big Ten for his punch of Lewan. However, this time around, Lewan will receive no punishment for his actions against the Michigan State defenders.
Lewan is expected to start this weekend when the Wolverines host Nebraska at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC.