July 23, 2024

Is it acceptable to attend semifinal playoff games as a spectator?

Ohio State Buckeyes Football & Basketball News - cleveland.com

Prior to the playoffs the previous season, Ohio State asked about in-person scouting of CFP opponents.

NCAA regulations have made it illegal to scout an opponent’s game in person during the regular season for almost thirty years. Nonetheless, the association allows on-site scouting during the postseason, including multi-team, single-site competitions such as the NCAA baseball and basketball regionals.

One participating school requested clarification on the rule as the CFP semifinals approached in December of last year: Is it okay for staff members to attend the other semifinal in order to scout potential opponents?

A person with knowledge of the situation said that Ohio State was that team.

At the time, the unreported inquiry appeared to be quite harmless. However, it started a back-and-forth discussion about the policy between the CFP and NCAA, which ultimately led to an unannounced modification to the CFP bylaws.

Ten months later, Ohio State’s request adds a new wrinkle to the NCAA’s investigation into Michigan, the Buckeyes’ main rival and another CFP participant from last year, engaging in illegal in-person scouting. The three seasons, dozens of games, and multiple individuals involved in Michigan’s alleged sign-stealing scheme have been revealed, with a steady stream of news reports detailing a complex system.

Two NCAA bylaws—one that forbids watching a future opponent’s game in person and another that forbids recording an opponent’s signals—are at the heart of the investigation.

As Yahoo Sports revealed last week, as early as the previous season, the coaching staffs of several Big Ten schools, including Ohio State, were aware of the Wolverines’ sign-stealing strategy. In the previous year’s CFP, Ohio State was ranked No. 4 and Michigan was ranked No. 2. The teams competed in opposite semifinals: the Buckeyes versus No. 1 Georgia in the Peach Bowl, and the Wolverines versus No. 3 TCU in the Fiesta Bowl.

Even though Ohio State’s investigation from last December left many unanswered questions, it now seems oddly relevant.

Yahoo Sports was informed by an NCAA representative that a school had inquired about the policy regarding in-person scouting. The playoffs are not run by the NCAA, so the organisation looked to the CFP for oversight.

Bill Hancock, executive director of CFP, said to Yahoo Sports on Friday, “We didn’t have a policy, and we operated without one until the question was raised.”

In the absence of a policy, CFP representatives relied on the NCAA’s postseason guidelines regarding in-person scouting. They decided that football coaches could watch the opposing semifinal to get a feel for the team they might play against in the national championship.

“We simply adhered to the NCAA regulation permitting scouting during postseason competitions,” Hancock stated.

All four participating teams were notified by the CFP. Georgia and TCU officials told Yahoo Sports that they have no knowledge of sending a staff member to scout the other semifinal.

It’s unknown if Michigan and Ohio State sent staff members to observe the other semifinal match.

A request for comment from a Michigan representative was not answered. A representative for Ohio State declined to comment.

At Chick-fil-ACiting ticket privacy policy, a Peach Bowl refused to provide information. According to a Fiesta Bowl representative, Ohio State has not requested any tickets for the bowl.

A new policy was quietly put into effect by the CFP governing board about four months after the semifinals. It prohibited in-person scouting of playoff games, which is significant because the CFP is about to grow into an eight-game, 12-team competition.

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The investigation is a minor detail in one of the most intense and legendary rivalries in college sports history, with Ryan Day of Ohio State and Jim Harbaugh of Michigan leading their respective programmes and neither of them being particularly cordial.

The rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State has become more intense recently. In the last two meetings of the 126-year-old series, Michigan has prevailed 87-50 over Ohio State. The Buckeyes’ eight-game losing streak was snapped by the 2021 victory in Ann Arbour. At the time, it was the most lopsided winning run in the rivalry since Michigan had won nine straight games in the early 1900s, from 1901 to 1909.

With a chance to win the championship, the two unbeaten programmes that are ranked in the top three are headed for a collision. They gather in Ann Arbour on November 25.

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