It was an image replayed on all the highlight shows -- and likely one seared into the minds of Notre Dame players, coaches and fans.
Michigan State's ecstatic players raced to midfield after their 44-41 upset of Notre Dame to plant their school flag on the Fighting Irish's home turf.
Some of the Spartans, including coach John L. Smith, regret the flag-raising.
"We would not have encouraged our guys to do that," Smith said.
He suggested a more appropriate response would have been hoisting the Megaphone Trophy for which the two schools play. The trophy, however, was not in the stadium after the game.
Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis didn't say a word about the Spartans' postgame antics.
On Wednesday, quarterback Brady Quinn said, "It's something that makes a lot of people upset to say the least with the fact that's how they deal with a win like that. Looking back to the season prior when we beat Michigan State, I don't think you saw any of our players sticking flags into other fields. I think that's not how we handle ourselves. It was disappointing to see that happen."
MSU offensive lineman Gordon Niebylski agreed his teammates got
"Hindsight is 20-20 and we probably shouldn't have planted the
flag on the field," he said. "But at the same time, it's
emotional, and we made a mistake, and it happens. But we didn't
mean any disrespect for Notre Dame."
Who could blame Michigan State for claiming the field? The
Spartans have won five in a row in South Bend -- something the
Fighting Irish haven't accomplished since 2002.