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🏈 THE MICHIGAN SCANDAL, EXPLAINED
As the wildest college football story in recent memory unfolds, it’s become increasingly difficult to keep up. So I went back to the beginning, gathered everything we know, and put it all in one place.
Timeline: Three weeks ago, Michigan was coming off a 52-7 win over Indiana and the biggest story out of Ann Arbor was J.J. McCarthy’s surging Heisman campaign. And then…
The plot thickens: The narrative changed this week, with other Big Ten programs implicated in their own sign-stealing schemes. Is this Michigan trying to divert attention? Or is it proof that the Wolverines aren’t such bad actors after all? You can be the judge of that.
Nov. 7: Michigan shares evidence with the Big Ten that it believes shows Rutgers, Ohio State and Purdue conspired to steal and share the Wolverines’ signs last season. Media outlets publish the specific documents, which were sent to Michigan by a former Purdue coach.
Nov. 8: Michigan sends a 10-page letter to the Big Ten warning the conference to “act cautiously when setting precedent given the reality that in-person scouting, collusion among opponents, and other questionable practices may well be far more prevalent than believed.”
Nov. 8: 11 Michigan lawmakers send a letter to Petitti urging him to “refrain from taking any premature measures.” Of note: Nine of the 11 are either alumni or former employees of UM.
What’s next: The Big Ten is expected to make a decision in regards to punishment by the end of the week. Any suspension of Harbaugh is likely to be met with legal action from both the coach and school, sources tell Yahoo Sports.
The Big Ten’s Sportsmanship Policy lays out a wide range of potential penalties aside from a Harbaugh suspension, including withholding TV and bowl game revenue, per CBS Sports.
As for the NCAA investigation, don’t expect anything to happen until the offseason. Even if they managed to expedite things and provide Michigan a formal notice of allegations soon, the school would have 90 days to respond and a lengthy appeals process would then follow.
My take: Ultimately, it comes down to the rules that were or were not broken. NCAA rules do not prohibit teams from deciphering and stealing signals. They do, however, prohibit teams from scouting opponents in person.
Consider the 2017 Astros scandal, which has many parallels to this one: Baseball teams can steal all the signs they want without technology. What they can’t do is use the center-field camera feed to relay those signs to a TV near the dugout, which is what Houston did.
By the way, MLB seems to have solved its sign-stealing problem with a simple fix: They installed the PitchCom communication system, which essentially got rid of signs altogether by allowing pitchers and catchers to communicate via headset.
College football could do something similar by allowing coaches to relay plays directly to select players’ helmets. The NFL already does this, which is why you don’t see elaborate hand gestures and ridiculous display boards (and sign-stealing!) on Sundays.
Perspective: My colleague Dan Wetzel argues that Purdue, Ohio State and Rutgers cheated as much as Michigan.
In Michigan’s case, the “advanced scouts” were Stalions’ band of iPhone-toting buddies. In Purdue’s case, the “advanced scouts” were the professional coaching staffs of two other Big Ten teams that had just played the Wolverines, and thus could battle-test the signs they stole as accurate.
Which would you rather have? Raw cell phone footage that still needs to be broken down, or highly experienced coaches just handing over their work? Everyone would choose the Purdue option.
In the end, they both allegedly stole, or participated in the stealing of, the same thing — information on opponents’ play signals in an effort to secure an advantage. It’s just that one was a ski mask bank robbery. The other was an inside job, cleanly wiring the money to the Caribbean.
Who is Connor Stalions? The Wall Street Journal delved into Stalions’ backstory, from his early days as an “obsessive” Michigan fan to his time at the U.S. Naval Academy. The most bizarre finding: He was sued by his homeowners association last year for running an appliance refurbishing business out of his Ann Arbor home.
The mysterious LLC: Stalions and Michigan star running back Blake Corum are listed as co-organizers of Wyoming-based “BC2 Housing LLC.” Corum (who has the initials “BC” and wears No. 2) denies any business dealings with Stalions. Another co-organizer, Connor O’Dea, has reportedly been flagged by a Big Ten school for purchasing a ticket using an account number linked to Stalions. He also appears to have played high school football at Stalions’ alma mater.
Coming up: No. 2 Michigan visits No. 9 Penn State on Saturday in the Wolverines’ biggest game of the season so far.
⚾️ MLB CANCELS GM MEETINGS AFTER VIRUS BREAKOUT
Baseball’s offseason kickoff event has come to a screeching halt.
The news: While you were sleeping, MLB canceled the remainder of the GM meetings at the Omni Montelucia Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona, after more than 10% of people in attendance came down with a virus, as first reported by SI.
This event, which began on Tuesday, marks the unofficial start of the offseason and sets the stage for free agent signings and potential trades.
Executives were also expected to discuss a wide variety of topics this year, ranging from rule changes to the new postseason format.
In other MLB news: The Angels have hired Ron Washington as their new manager. The 71-year-old was the Rangers’ skipper from 2007-14 and has been the Braves’ third-base coach since 2016.
🏈 NFL UNDERS KEEP HITTING
NFL offenses are struggling to score this year, making it one of the best seasons in recent memory for betting the under (i.e. wagering that the two teams will combine to score fewer points than the Over/Under total set by the sportsbook).
By the numbers: Unders are 83-52-1 (61.5%) so far this season, per Action Network, the best through Week 9 since 1991.
Looking ahead: Here are the current Over/Under totals for Week 10, per BetMGM…
Tonight: Panthers at Bears (38.5)
Sunday: Colts at Patriots (43.5), Texans at Bengals (47.5), Saints at Vikings (41), Packers at Steelers (39), Titans at Buccaneers (38.5), 49ers at Jaguars (45), Browns at Ravens (38), Falcons at Cardinals (44), Lions at Chargers (48.5), Giants at Cowboys (38.5), Commanders at Seahawks (45.5)
Sunday night: Jets at Raiders (36)
Monday night*: Broncos at Bills (47)
*Case of the Mondays: “Monday Night Football” unders are 10-1 this season and 55-28-1 since 2019.
❤️ WHY WE LOVE SPORTS
Patrick B. (Norwalk, Iowa) writes in:
I’ve been thinking about this memory a lot since the Rangers World Series win, and I wanted to share it with you. If nothing else, just typing this out will make me happy.
12 years ago, my mom decided to get my dad a birthday gift that would help him cross something off his bucket list. So she decided to get two tickets to the 2011 World Series, one for him and one for me. I vividly recall sitting down at the kitchen table, talking through which game to pick. Early games are a guarantee but not as exciting. But if you bank on Game 7 and miss it, how big of a bummer is that? So we decided Game 6 was the best choice. How right we were.
As soon as the Rangers won Game 4 and we knew there would be a Game 6, I was stoked. Excited for the game, sure, but also to spend that time with my dad. I was 27 years old in 2011 and my dad was 84. He led a dynamic life, but to me was always the loving father that every child deserves. I cherished every moment we got to spend together.
So we leave from Central Iowa on October 26 to drive down to St. Louis for the game that night. We got all the way there before they announced it was postponed due to rain. What a blessing it turned out to be. Pops and I spent that extra day living it up in the STL. We hit the Anheuser-Busch factory, caught a showing of “Moneyball” and enjoyed our fair share of food and beverage. Then it was game time.
I knew while it was happening that we were seeing something different., even before David Freese made Rangers fans weep in the bottom of the 9th. And then again in the 11th. Everyone in the stadium knew walking out that we’d seen something special, and that Game 7 was a foregone conclusion. The Cards had demoralized Texas to the extent that they had no hope of coming back. Which turned out to be true.
Dad and I talked about that game and those couple of days we spent together a lot. It’s one of the experiences we reminisced about before he passed away two years ago. I can’t see the Rangers or the Cardinals anymore without going back in time, which isn’t a bad thing at all.
So when Texas finally won last week, I couldn’t help but get misty-eyed and think of my dad with a bemused grin, eager to call out how we saw them blow it all those years ago. You talk all the time about the personal connections, the memories, the experiences and the emotions that sports deliver to us. This is one of mine.
Submit your story: Have a sports memory you’d like to share? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and you could be featured in Yahoo Sports AM.
📆 NOV. 9, 1989: THE BUCKS AND SONICS PLAY FOREVER
34 years ago today, the Bucks beat the Supersonics, 155-154, in five overtimes, the NBA’s longest game since the advent of the shot clock in 1954, Jeff writes.
One of three: Only two other games in NBA history have gone at least five overtimes. The Indianapolis Olympians beat the Rochester Royals, 75-73, in 1951 (six OT) and the Syracuse Nationals beat the Anderson Packers, 125-123, in 1949 (five OT).
⛳️ 1961: The PGA Tour removed the “Caucasian-only” clause from its bylaws, finally opening up membership to non-white golfers.
🥊 1996: Evander Holyfield upset Mike Tyson to win the heavyweight title in their first ever meeting*, a long-anticipated bout billed simply as “Finally.”
*Their next meeting: After Holyfield’s surprising 11th round TKO, he and Tyson met again the following June in “The Bite Fight.”
📺 WATCHLIST: HEAVYWEIGHT CLASH
Caitlin Clark and No. 3 Iowa take on Elizabeth Kitley and No. 8 Virginia Tech tonight (8pm ET, ESPN2) at Charlotte’s Spectrum Center (home of the Hornets) in a battle of Final Four teams from last season, Jeff writes.
Quite the doubleheader: No. 18 FSU hosts No. 11 Tennessee (6pm, ESPN2) in the first leg of tonight’s women’s basketball showcase.
More to watch:
🏈 NFL: Panthers (+3.5) at Bears* (8:15pm, Prime)
🏀 NBA: Bucks at Pacers (7pm, NBA); Hawks at Magic (9:30pm, NBA)
🏈 CFB: Virginia at No. 11 Louisville (7:30pm, ESPN)
⛳️ LPGA: The Annika (10am, Golf/Peacock) … The season’s penultimate event tees off at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair, Florida.
*Bottom of the league: 22 NFL teams have at least four wins this season, which is more than Carolina (1-7) and Chicago (2-7) have combined.
🏈 NFL TRIVIA
Week 10 of the NFL season begins tonight.
Answer at the bottom.
🏈 TEXAS VOTERS SAY NO TO $94M STADIUM
Texans’ love of high school football was put to the test on Election Day when Prosper Independent School District (near Dallas) asked voters to help fund a $94 million stadium, which would be the most expensive in state history.
The results: The proposition failed, with 5,533 votes against and 4,767 votes for (54-46 split). Maybe that’s because Prosper already has a $48 million, 12,000-seat stadium (pictured here) that opened in 2019!
Trivia answer: Dolphins (AFC East), Chiefs (AFC West), Ravens (AFC North), Jaguars (AFC South), Eagles (NFC East), 49ers (NFC West), Lions (NFC North), Saints (NFC South)
We hope you enjoyed this edition of Yahoo Sports AM, our daily newsletter that keeps you up to date on all things sports. Sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.