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Harbaugh suspended by Big Ten

A temporary punishment for an ongoing investigation
Michigan logo from Wikimedia Commons
Michigan logo from Wikimedia Commons

Last week, the Big Ten made the decision to suspend Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh for the final three games of the 2023 NCAA regular season. This was done as a result of the ongoing investigation that is happening as a result of Michigan’s sign-stealing operations that were conducted by former staffer Connor Stalions.

This suspension could carry over into next season. In a lengthy report from the Big Ten, they stated that Michigan’s sign-stealing operation compromised the integrity of the competition. They went on to say that it even compromised basic sportsmanship. 

The suspension means that Harbaugh will not be allowed on the sideline with his team during the Maryland and Ohio State games. However, he will be allowed to coach the team for other football activities.

Despite the sudden suspension, the Wolverines were able to defeat Penn State 24-15. Offensive coordinator Sherron Moore served as the acting head coach and was emotional in a postgame interview as he dedicated the win to Harbaugh. The rest of the players embraced the villain role, wearing “Michigan vs Everybody” hats in the pregame warmups to display their support to the program.

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Prior to the game, the Wolverines responded to the Big Ten by filing a restraining order which would delay the suspension for a few days. Michigan argued that suspending Harbaugh this late in the season could drastically affect their chances of winning the national championship in January. With a team that some regard as the best in the nation, the Wolverines do not want to waste a favorable opportunity of success.

Unfortunately for the Wolverines, the court opted to schedule an in-person hearing for Nov. 17. As a result, Harbaugh was forced to watch the game from the team hotel with his family.

The main culprit of the investigation is Connor Stalions, who was initially suspended by the program but resigned on Nov. 3 ahead of the Wolverines’ game against Purdue. Stalions has been alleged to have headed a group of staffers that electronically recorded sidelines of opponents scheduled to play Michigan in an attempt to steal signals. Evidence has proved that Stalions has purchased and distributed tickets from 12 Big Ten stadiums as well as college football playoff opponents.

What happens next following Harbaugh’s suspension will depend on the findings of the investigation. While sign-stealing is not against an NCAA rule, the use of technology as well as advanced in-person scouting to record signs is. Any evidence that proves Michigan’s use of either tactic will result in a harsher punishment by the Big Ten. While many different people have spoken about their stories, the findings released by the NCAA could determine the fate of the 2023 Michigan Wolverines.

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