July 23, 2024

The impact of the Michigan scandal on Ryan Day.

Undoubtedly, one of Day’s greatest achievements as a coach has been the revelation of this development, even though it is unclear who initially brought Stalions to the attention of the NCAA (the history of the private investigation company that threw a mountain of evidence into the hands of the enforcement staff is still a mystery).

It wouldn’t be accurate to say that Day was under pressure following the Buckeyes’ 45-23 loss in Columbus last season, but it would be reasonable to wonder if he was the best choice to lead the team to its goals. Ohio State appeared weak against Michigan for the second year in a row, and Day appeared uneasy when making the kind of crucial decisions that head coaches of major league teams have to make in these contests.

While some of his credibility was restored by Ohio State’s near-miss against Georgia in the College Football Playoff semifinals, Day has benefited more than anyone else from the idea that Michigan cheated. Let’s face it. If the Wolverines had an unfair advantage, the perception of those losses is slightly different, whether or not Stalions had anything to do with it.

Thus, Saturday is also significant for Ohio State. The excuses are no more, along with the stallion. Day skillfully sidestepped every question this week regarding his opponent, but he did so in a way that made it obvious that he is annoyed with Harbaugh and believes Michigan was duped.

That also carries some risk. There isn’t an explanation if the Wolverines perform better this time. If they replicate the actions they took against the Buckeyes the previous two years, nobody will be able to claim it was the result of false information.

However, it’s larger for Michigan. This feels a little bit like a last stand, with the NCAA investigation still ongoing, Harbaugh’s future uncertain, and the majority of the Wolverines’ star players expected to sign with the NFL. It goes without saying that Michigan will find another excellent coach and keep attracting talented players if Harbaugh is fired or departs. The rivalry will continue, as it has for the past 100 years.

However, this Saturday’s game is essentially a one-game referendum on Michigan’s entire three-year run, which seemed to come out of nowhere after the team suffered eight straight losses to Ohio State.

Regardless of your thoughts on sign-stealing, cheating, or other antics that are part of college sports culture, the Wolverines were exposed for their deception by the Stalions. Thus, there is only one way to refute the myth that Michigan’s rise was a hoax. It’s all about Saturday in the end.

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