BIG RAPIDS, Mich. -- Defending champion Ferris State will play a Division II football playoff game Saturday without its coach because he has been suspended for players lighting cigars in the locker room after winning a national title last year.
"Self-pity's the greatest form of self-destruction, so I just got to suck it up and be a big boy," coach Tony Annese told WOOD-TV.
The Bulldogs will travel 60 miles in Michigan to play in-state rival Grand Valley State.
Annese's one-game playoff suspension isn't a total surprise; it was announced by the NCAA earlier this year.
"Technically speaking, I can be at the game. Just got to buy my own ticket. So I don't know if that's a good idea," he said.
In addition, Ferris State had to pay a $2,500 fine and $15,383 in cleaning and repair expenses. The McKinney, Texas, school district, where the 2022 championship game was played, has a strict no-tobacco policy.
The Bulldogs beat Colorado Mines 41-14 for their second consecutive Division II championship.
Annese can prepare his team this week, but he can't communicate with players during the game.
Lineman Olalere Oladipo said he'll miss his coach yelling, '"Come on, defense, get a sack! Come on, 'Lere!'"