May 26, 2024

The Big Ten’s lenient penalty for Michigan’s scouting scheme does not alter the facts surrounding Ohio State football.

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Perhaps the majority of Ohio State football fans would not have thought that Michigan’s Big Ten punishment would have lived up to their minimal expectations.

In the Tattoogate scandal, Ohio State disqualified a national championship coach, suspended him for the remainder of the season, and vacated victories. For what reason would the Wolverines be given any less credit for their actions that damaged the competition’s integrity?

In his 13-page letter to Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel, Big Ten Commissioner Tom Petitti stated 43 times that he believed Michigan’s scheme was good enough to keep Harbaugh off the sidelines for the team’s final three regular-season games.

In an attempt to at least postpone that penalty, Michigan filed for a temporary restraining order on Friday night.

Why is unknown. Given the information that is known, I do not believe that the punishment is excessively harsh. In order to meet the true eye-for-an-eye standard, Petitti also needed to fire defensive coordinator Jesse Minter and offensive coordinator Sherrod Brown from the Wolverines.


Over the previous two years of that racket, Connor Stalions was tethered to the coordinators of the Wolverines. That is, at least, what can be deduced from the numerous video clips that show the low-level recruiter prominently positioned alongside the other staff members on the sidelines.


Michigan has already proven that it can function without Jim Harbaugh. It was rehearsed during his three-game suspension to begin the season due to the other NCAA probe concerning his employment.

Michigan needs to make adjustments and reassess its play-calling methodology after suspending the coordinators. Alternately, suspend Harbaugh for the entire next two to three weeks in addition to the games. In any case, the staff would then have to deal with the same last-minute disruption to the season that the Wolverines’ opponents faced.


The announcement on Friday most likely does not mark the end of Michigan’s punishment. The NCAA is clearly convinced that it has more information about the illicit scouting operation and is still looking for more information, as stated in Petitti’s letter to Manuel. For example, who funded this scheme? For example, to what extent within the coaching staff can it demonstrate knowledge of the scheme?

Petitti’s word once more. It seems to be his favourite word.


When deciding on this punishment, the commissioner was not required to take the preferred optics of Ohio State fans into account. However, merely forcing Harbaugh to miss game days also robs the Buckeyes of the most fulfilling result. It would be satisfying in and of itself to win The Game against this talented of a team, head coach or not.


But after ending this two-game losing run, witnessing the handshake between Ryan Day and Jim Harbaugh in the middle of the pitch? particularly in these conditions? Fans of Ohio State have enjoyed that moment.

When I asked our Buckeye Talk Subtext subscribers if they wanted to see Harbaugh suspended for The Game, 60% of them responded negatively. Most people wanted neither asterisks nor justifications. They want their team to take on their enemy and defeat him where he is most comfortable.


But many fervent answers were in disagreement. One in particular presented the opposing viewpoint in a clear and compelling manner:

It’s a sacred game. Under Harbaugh’s leadership, Michigan also compromised the integrity of The Game. Harbaugh will therefore not be able to coach in The Game.

That was also Petitti’s conclusion, albeit from a different angle.


Thus, The Game’s staff composition is altered. But nothing else does. Day and Ohio State are attempting to avert the series’ first three-game losing run since 1997. (Day wouldn’t start at quarterback for New Hampshire as a freshman until the following season.) Without winning that game, this defence, Marvin Harrison Jr., and a revitalised TreVeyon Henderson might not get their chance at a national championship.


It was never going to happen for those hoping Petitti would pull a nuclear option and end Michigan’s season. The courts’ decision may or may not confirm Harbaugh’s exile from the sidelines.


Ohio State needed to be a better team Friday than it was Thursday to win in Ann Arbor on Nov. 25. That should be the only plan it worries about for the next 15 days.


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