The University of Michigan football program is currently in the midst of a spectacular season on the field, yet the sword of Damocles hangs over their head, signaling impending doom. The Michigan signal-stealing scandal is in full swing, and as the NCAA is known to take quite a while, Big Ten coaches are now demanding action from their commissioner.
According to a report by ESPN’s Pete Thamel, Big Ten officials met late yesterday with coaches as they are insisting new Commissioner Tony Petitti take action for Michigan’s purported infractions. The call, which lasted 90 minutes, saw the majority of Big Ten head coaches upset and frustrated at the lack of action from the Big Ten. Jim Harbaugh left the call so the other 13 coaches could discuss the matter.
The call makes sense as the investigation is a couple of weeks old and could take several months, if not an entire year, before assessments, conclusions, and penalties are determined. Each day that passes with new information being presented, while no official word from the conference, appears tone-deaf on Petitti’s part.
In the middle, and quite frankly taking all the heat thus far, is suspended Michigan staffer Connor Stalions. His apparent actions, if true, most definitely gave the Wolverines a clear advantage on the field. It remains to be seen how deep the sign stealing went. Quite a bit of footage shows Stalions on the Michigan sidelines with a series of crib notes deciphering team signals and allowing the Wolverine coordinators to alter their play pre-snap.
While cheat sheets alone aren’t necessarily damning, other footage shows Stalions apparently on the sidelines of another team (Central Michigan University) recording signals of future opponent Michigan State adding complexity and nuance to this scandalous act. If this staffer from UM could infiltrate the sidelines (not just buying tickets to games and leaving a paper trail) where former Wolverine coaches have moved on to, there’s no limit to the amount of access he had.
Big Ten coaches around the league are wondering why the commissioner is stalling on any action. Petitti could act anytime he wants, as the conference has a “Sportsmanship Clause” where he has full authority to act, given the circumstances. The College Football Playoff selection committee did come out and at least indicate that they are not considering the investigation, as they ranked the Wolverines in the three-spot on Tuesday when the initial playoff rankings came out.
The investigation is ongoing, but the fallout seems inevitable.