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Dantonio's in-game contact didn't violate rules

Just wanted to clear up something regarding the Michigan State-Wisconsin game and Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio.

We all learned after Michigan State's 34-24 victory that Dantonio had been communicating with his assistant coaches via phone and text message from his hospital room throughout the game.

"He was texting and calling the entire game," said defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, who coached from the press box. "I've never been on the phone so much during the game. He was with us the entire time. ... There was a couple times we called him and said, 'Do we go for it or not?' And he was right there with us."

But were Dantonio's actions legal? The Detroit News reported Sunday night that Dantonio hadn't violated any rules by touching base with his assistants during the game.

Then on Monday, the Wisconsin State Journal reported that Badgers coach Bret Bielema shrugged off a possible rules violation by Michigan State. Bielema never planned to pursue action against Dantonio and the Spartans, even though it was his understanding that coaches in the stadium couldn't communicate with those outside the stadium about in-game situations.

"When they changed the policy in regard to instant replay, I actually wanted to know if we could get feedback from people outside the stadium, whether or not to review a play," Bielema told reporters Monday at his weekly news conference. "I inquired at the time. That's how I knew that you could not receive or give phone calls or text messages."

So which is it?

I checked in again with the Big Ten late Tuesday, and the league clarified things.

NCAA Rule 1-4-9-b states: "Only voice communication between the press box and team area is permitted. Where press-box space is not adequate, only voice communication may originate from any area in the stands between the 25-yard lines extended to the top of the stadium. No other communication for coaching purposes is permitted anywhere else."

But according to Big Ten Coordinator of Football Officials Bill Carollo, the rule only applies to communications from within the stadium. Carollo confirmed to a league spokesman that communications from outside the stadium are allowed.

So there you have it. No harm done.

I will be interested, however, to see if more coaches don't utilize this apparent loophole in the future.