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  • Cooper Burke

Michigan Wolverines Embroiled in Unprecedented Sign-Stealing Scandal

The college football world is no stranger to scandals and controversy, and the University of Michigan has found itself caught in a scandal of epic proportions. On Oct. 20th, Michigan suspended a football staffer and former Marine, Connor Stallions, as the NCAA investigated allegations of in-person scouting, which is banned by NCAA bylaws.

The Wall Street Journal broke the news that Michigan had rescinded Jim Harbaugh’s contract offer, which would have made him the highest-paid coach in the Big Ten.

As usual, social media sleuths were quick to point out just when and where Connor Stallions had gone to games by analyzing his Venmo transactions, whose dates and captions lined up with major games of Michigan opponents. For instance, Stallions paid a Michigan intern with the caption “GA” a day before the Peach Bowl where Georgia faced Ohio State.

People found Stallions on the sideline at many other games, often dressed as a Michigan assistant passing signals to defensive coordinators, and even calling plays based off of the signals that he knew opposing teams were going to run.

Stallions purchased tickets to over 30 games, all for Michigan opponents or potential opponents Michigan would face in the playoffs.

According to Ross Dellenger, however, TCU knew of the sign stealing allegations before their college football playoff semifinal.

“Sometimes we froze a play before the snap,” said one anonymous coach. “We’d call a play and then we’d signal in another play with an old signal but we told players to run the original play.”

This tactic seemed to work, as TCU defeated Michigan 51-45 in the Fiesta Bowl en route to a national championship appearance.

Just a few days ago, allegations surfaced that Connor Stallions was dressed as a coach for Central Michigan University during their game against Michigan State. According to ESPN, a man alleged to be Stallions was wearing a lanyard marked “VB”, or visiting bench. This would have given him the same access as players, coaches, and trainers to the restricted area between the twenty-yard line.

As the camera cut to the CMU staffer, he would use a playsheet to cover his face. Additionally, the mystery staffer wore sunglasses for a game slated to kick off past seven o’clock, and there appeared to be a blue light on the glasses resembling a camera.

As of right now, this game would be the first that Stallions was on a sideline at.

“We became aware of these photos late yesterday and we are in the process of determining the facts surrounding them,” CMU Athletic Director Amy Folan said in a statement. “We have no further comment at this time.”

This scandal would be unprecedented in scope, as many coaches have conceded that sign stealing has been a part of college football for a long time. However, the extent and the organization of the ring run by Stallions is unlike any other in college history.

Using a network of staffers to infiltrate potential playoff opponents’ games is a stain on the integrity of college football, and these serious allegations may serve to haunt a proud Michigan program for years to come.

Article written by Cooper Burke

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