Connor Stalions Implicated In Latest Alleged Scheme Carried Out By Jim Harbaugh
2:40 PM EDT on October 20, 2023
Beware! There is skulduggery afoot in the Wolverine State. After serving a three-game suspension at the start of the season for some light alleged recruiting violations and some sauciness about whether he knowingly lied to NCAA investigators, University of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh is facing additional accusations of rule-breaking. According to ESPN, Michigan is under investigation by the NCAA for violating their policy against scouting future opponents in person. An ESPN source claimed that Harbaugh's program used an "elaborate" scouting system with the intent of stealing their enemies' signals. In-person scouting at games has been banned by the NCAA since 1994 in an attempt to even the playing field among programs with disparate resources, and recording opposing signals is also a big Donny Don't.
Harbaugh has denied any knowledge of such a scheme, but according to ESPN, a Michigan football analyst sits at the center of the NCAA investigation: the one, the only, the notorious Connor Stalions. I'm sure Stalions's name is already known far and wide, but just to recap, Connor Stalions is a former Marine captain who left that business to commit full-time to the much more vicious and demanding world of college football in 2022. On a search-engine archived version of his LinkedIn, he writes, "Having identified the glaringly identical similarities between a football program and the Marine Corps, I focus on using my experience to employ Marine Corps philosophies and tactics into the sport of football regarding strategies in staffing, recruiting, scouting, intelligence, planning and more."
What that allegedly meant in practice was eating a lot of tape. According to an ESPN source, "it was known in the building that [Connor Stalions] spent much of his time deciphering opponents' signals, often watching television copies of opponents' games." The article quotes a source saying, simply, "[Connor Stalions] had one role." For this reason, the NCAA in the process of trying to get Connor Stalions's computer, which might just hold the key that unlocks Harbaugh's vast criminal empire.
This is a funny time for the sign-stealing charges to pop up, because in addition to gigantic clashes next month against Penn State and Ohio State, Harbaugh and his Wolverines are set to play their in-state rivals in East Lansing on Saturday. The Athletic's Brendan Quinn reported that, upon being informed of the sign-stealing accusations, "Michigan State [0-3 in conference play] initially warned the Big Ten it might consider not playing Saturday’s game out of concern for the health and safety for its players." The game appears to be going forward as planned, though another recent Athletic piece noted that the State News has called off its annual touch football game tradition against the Michigan Daily.
If Michigan did in fact break the rules, they shouldn't escape tangible punishment. But one thing that's for certain from this mostly hazy news is that their football team's triumphs are now undercut by questions about Harbaugh's integrity, and both future opponents and past losers can take shots or make excuses on the basis of the Wolverines' alleged cheating. Already among Harbaugh's adversaries in the ESPN piece is a Big Ten source who says "This is worse than both the Astros and the Patriots."
I have reason to believe that the pearl-clutching histrionics around the Big Ten East are only going to intensify for as long as Crooked Jim keeps winning. How do I know that? Well, maybe I'm stealing their signals, too.