Michigan Football Embroiled In Sign Stealing Controversy

By: Emily McLaughlin

Since October 25, The Big Ten and the NCAA have announced they have put Michigan under investigation for sign stealing and illegal in-person scouting. The main suspect is Wolverines analyst and former United States Marine Corps Captain Connor Stalions.

Stalions reportedly purchased over 30 tickets to postseason opponents to play-call signals from both sides of the field. Multiple Big Ten schools have reported that they have records of Stalion purchasing tickets to these games and even surveillance footage of people in those seats pointing their phones to the field. 

An anonymous former Division III football coach paid Stalions to record future Michigan opponents in person. Confronting these allegations to Stalions, he refused to cooperate with any investigations. 

CBS Detroit said, “He was suspended by the university shortly after the NCAA and Big Ten acknowledged the school was being investigated. Two weeks later, he resigned.”

It is important to note that the NCAA has no rules regarding stealing signs. However, the NCAA forbids in-person scouting of opponents and using electronic equipment to record any signals of opponent plays. 

It was even reported by YahooSports that “Stalions sent friends out to film the sideline signals of future Wolverine opponents. He then got the video and allegedly worked to decipher the play calls. It appears he even stood on a Central Michigan sideline comically wearing what looks like spy glasses to scout Michigan State.”

The actions done by Stalion have resulted in potential disciplinary actions. However, Michigan can respond with any legal events against the Big Ten. Speculations have developed about the Big Ten not getting involved with whether disciplinary actions are required.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh denies any knowledge of the sign stealing but would be willing to cooperate with the NCAA. The penalty that could result in these actions would be suspension of Harbaugh, but Michigan has already explained how they will challenge any discipline. 

On November 3, Dan Wetzel reported on Twitter that “The University of Michigan has fired recruiting analyst Connor Stalions, a source tells Yahoo Sports. He was suspended with pay during the NCAA investigation into in-person scouting.” 

This has not been the only sign-stealing scandal among college football coaches. Ohio State, Purdue, and Rutgers have also been reported to be involved in these kinds of scandals. 

According to sources, as reported by ESPN, Purdue, who faced Michigan in the Big Ten championship game in 2022, “received offensive signals from Ohio State and defensive signals from Rutgers. Michigan beat Rutgers 52-17 on Nov. 5 and beat Ohio State 45-23 on Nov. 26.”

All allegedly stole or participated in stealing, and each school aimed to capture plays to their advantage. With a request for comments from each team, they all declined.  Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi, the former Michigan State defensive coordinator, said, “I think it’s ridiculous what goes on. That doesn’t shock me if it happened. I’m not accusing anybody, but to me, that’s been happening for a while.” NBCDFW.

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