"Tunnels don't hurt people — Michigan State football players hurt people."

That was the narrative from Michigan partisans in the aftermath of what has come to be known colloquially as Tunnelgate. Never mind the fact that, at the time of that incident, altercations between U-M and visiting teams had occurred in three of the Wolverines' seven most-recent home games, and in three consecutive conference games played at Michigan Stadium.

I'm gonna need you to sit down for this, because the sheer shock of what I'm about to tell you is too grave. As it turns out, everything Michigan fans/media — who are we kidding, they're one and the same — said about the Big House tunnel not playing any part in what happened after the MSU/Michigan game is complete bullshit.

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Who would've thought it: The same people who demanded the suspension of habeas corpus to summarily imprison the MSU players involved in Tunnelgate and then excused one of their own after he incurred a felony firearms arrest while suffering precisely zero consequences (both from the school/football program and the justice system, which is conveniently under the purview of a person so ethically compromised by their Michigan fandom that it would make the Detroit media blush) are not credible when it comes to literally anything even barely adjacent to their pretend-school.

(Sidebar: U-M really ought to update its marketing slogan "The Michigan Difference" to something more grounded in reality, like "The Michigan Indifference," given the common practice among the school, its athletic department, and its entire fanbase of the "Rules for thee, not for me" approach.)

In a recent communication to season ticket holders, U-M athletic director Warde Manuel, who surprised everyone by actually doing something, announced the Michigan Stadium tunnel will be widened ahead of next football season.

By the way, did you know U-M had previously dubbed the tunnel "the Lloyd Carr Tunnel?" You can't make this stuff up! The guy who harbored and enabled a sexual predator the likes of which the sports world had never seen gets a statue, the football building, the head coach cosplaying as him on the sidelines, and virtually everything else dedicated in his honor, meanwhile the guy who actually won a national championship and didn't fire Ernie Harwell gets his name slapped on a measly tunnel.

Anyway, U-M is removing some 45 seats from the tunnel area to make additional room. Here's more on the changes, per the Free Press:

U-M athletics spokesman Kurt Svoboda told the Free Press the decision was made as "a direct result of a thorough safety review that occurred following the season."

...

"It’s being done to widen access to the field for the competitors and all the game personnel that enter and exit from the tunnel," Svoboda said. "Our goal obviously is to ensure that safe and healthy environment for everybody who has to have access to the field."

Good to hear Michigan is taking the safety of the tunnel seriously. Unlike felony gun charges, antisemitism, sexual assault, and whatever the hell "computer access crimes" means.

Look, if U-M were truly interested in preventing episodes like Tunnelgate from ever even beginning to spark again they would make any of a number of obvious moves that would go a long way in actually addressing the problem, like:

  • Asking Michigan players to dial down the assholery in the immediate aftermath of bitter rivalry games
  • Reasonably expecting Wolverines not to run through the middle of opposing teams while they exit the field
  • Not having the tunnel located directly behind the visitor sideline, considering U-M players seem to be unable to resist the urge to participate in the time-honored Michigan tradition of being insufferable, antagonizing jackasses
  • Limiting tunnel access to just the people necessary to the playing of the game — translation: keeping friends, family, celebrities, fanboying university administrators, and others out
  • Building a second tunnel: I understand this would be an engineering nightmare, but considering that U-M just dropped $41 million for new scoreboards and stereos this offseason I think they'd be able to figure something out. After all, it would be an opportunity to really flex that Michigan Difference™

What happened in the tunnel after the 2022 Michigan State/Michigan game was the result of poor choices by the Spartans who decided to throw hands. As someone who is amazed — and not in the good way — by footage of fights on the news and social media, I was embarrassed.

Because resorting to violence is so sophomoric. As David Friedman said, "The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations."

But that doesn't mean there weren't issues with the environment and circumstances leading up to those poor choices. There most definitely were. In this day and age where extremism dominates our culture and dealing in absolutes has become far too common, I'm here to tell you that both things can be true: The MSU players involved were wrong to choose to fight, and those on the U-M side were wrong to antagonize — especially in that unnecessarily combustible setting.

I see no latitude, though, when accounting for the actions of the adults who conducted an outright persecution campaign against those Spartans. A fight between football players on a football field wouldn't rise to the level of an actual criminal matter. Why, then, should a fight between football players a few feet from a football field be any different?

Swinging a helmet as a weapon is heinous, to be sure, but it's also not criminal assault. Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns twice swung a helmet at a helmet-less player in the middle of an NFL game, yet he faced no legal consequence. Why? Because it's not a crime. And because the preeminent legal authority figure in Cuyahoga County isn't an ethically bankrupt charlatan.

I guess widening the tunnel Lloyd Carr Tunnel doesn't hurt. But it also doesn't address the real issues that have made that particular piece of real estate such a hot topic lately.

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