Many well-known members of the national sports media have advocated for Michigan to be punished prior to the conclusion of an NCAA investigation. That is not the answer and if Michigan were a Group of 5 school that hadn’t won a ton of games over the past few seasons, this issue wouldn’t even be on everyone’s radar.
One FOX Sports analyst used social media on Thursday to provide the Big Ten conference with a much-needed voice of reason regarding the NCAA investigation into the Michigan football program. Reports suggest that a Michigan staffer attended games of Wolverine’s opponents and recorded them. That is not permitted according to NCAA rules.
The FOX analyst said that the level of resentment for the Wolverines is directly related to the amount of success they have had recently. Every NCAA or Big Ten infraction should be handled the exact same way. There should be no decisions made until the investigation is finished.
A number of well-known ESPN personalities and others are urging the Big Ten to take immediate action. A majority of Big Ten coaches have urged the conference’s commissioner, Tony Petitti to levy punishment on Michigan right away.
In any other case involving the breaking of NCAA or conference rules, there is an investigation. All relevant facts are collected, sorted out, and a decision is made. Why would that be different in this case? According to this FOX analyst and many others, it’s because Michigan has enjoyed tremendous success over the past two seasons. The Wolverines have made each of the last two College Football Playoffs.
Connor Stalions, a Michigan off-field staff member, reportedly attended – or paid for someone else to attend – games of Michigan opponents. The games were filmed along with the coaches on the sideline in an effort to break down opponents’ signals. There are no rules against breaking down and “stealing” an opponent’s signals. What is prohibited is scouting an FBS opponent in person. Proving that is going to be difficult for the NCAA and/or the Big Ten.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh has stated that he and his staff had no knowledge of what Stalions was doing. Stalions is an interesting character who wrote a whole 600-page “manifesto” on how he was going to take over the Michigan football program. He is in his first year as a paid member of the Michigan football staff, though Stalions serves in an off-the-field role. He’s a Naval Academy graduate and a retired Marine Corps captain.
Whatever happens, it might be time for the NCAA or the FBS conferences to start looking into helmet audio technology. The NFL has been using it for years. There is even new technology, developed by AT&T, that allows players to actually see a play call on a small screen inside the facemask of the helmet. The technology was developed for Gaulladet University, which is a school for non-hearing, i.e. deaf, students. Of course, the argument against technology is that not all 133 FBS programs could afford it. The NCAA, however, could surely front the bill. The organization had revenues of nearly $1 billion in 2022 on TV and marketing rights alone.
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