The Michigan Football team and Coach Jim Harbaugh are currently under fire for allegations that they stole signals from the opposition in order to gain an advantage on the field. And while many may call that ‘cheating’, some notable former NFL names have come to the Wolverines’ defense – pointing out that it’s more like ‘strategy’.
While the story is unfolding rapidly, where it stands right now is that the Wolverines coaching staff is being accused of advanced scouting – sending a staffer to watch other teams’ games and practices, notating and recording all of it as much as possible. While this sounds like something that every team might engage in? It’s not supposed to go on. At least, according to bylines set down by the sport’s governing body.
Since 1994, NCAA rules state that coaching staffs cannot send members out on road trips to opponents’ games. It was introduced as a cost-cutting measure, but the intended effect was to prevent teams from gaining an unfair advantage. However, there are many observers – both inside and outside of college football – who believe the practice happens more often than most fans and media realize. And not just with Michigan, but all over the NCAA.
Jim Harbaugh issued a statement, denying any personal wrongdoing or any knowledge of such from anyone on the Michigan coaching staff.
“I do not have any knowledge or information regarding the University of Michigan football program illegally stealing signals, nor have I directed staff members or others to participate in an off-campus scouting assignment,” Harbaugh’s statement read. “I have no awareness of anyone on our staff having done that or having directed that action.”
Despite the denials, there are many others who say this shouldn’t even be a big deal. NFL players like J.J. Watte and Robert Griffin III both made statements on social media that said that it’s not only normal – but essentially accepted. In a nutshell, it’s as if the rule has been generally ignored. At least, until now.
RG III posted on Instagram, “Then every team should be investigated”. Meanwhile, Watt (on the same platform) simply stated, “That’s called ‘scouting’ (and I’m a Badger) – noting that he’s an alum of Wisconsin, a traditional conference rival of the Wolverines’.
While outsiders to the program and fans can have their opinions on the topic, there’s a very real possibility that this could have a direct effect on Harbaugh’s long-term future with the school.
As a former, successful NFL head coach, he has fielded offers from The League in the past and is almost always in the conversation for high-profile positions on the pro level. Any serious sanctions that the NCAA might place on the Wolverines could see their former current leader trade in the Big House for a domed home and a fat contract at the next level.
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