OPINION: Michigan football got off easy

As the College Football Playoff is upon us, we have seen one of the best seasons in recent history. There are a number of extremely talented teams and amazing stories. But no story from this season will top that of the one surrounding the University of Michigan and the sign-stealing scandal.

In the middle of the season, the University of Michigan was accused of stealing the signs of their opponents in the Big Ten conference. The scandal included that of Connor Stallions, a staff member of the team. Rumor has it that Stallions was seen at stadiums of other Big Ten teams and that he was taking video with his phone of the opponent's signs on the sideline. His name was traced back to ticket purchases and that is one way that he was exposed. 

The investigation went on for many weeks. During the investigation, Stallions was fired, as well as the linebackers coach, Chris Partridge. The university was found guilty in the end, and head coach Jim Harbaugh was suspended for three games. Sherrone Moore became the interim head coach in Harbaugh's absence. Harbaugh was still allowed to coach during the week, however, he was not allowed on the sidelines on gameday. Moore would go on to win every game during the suspension. He led the team to wins over Penn State, Maryland and Ohio State. 

Harbaugh is the first coach to be suspended twice in one season in college football history. His first suspension was due to a recruitment scandal from 2020 that was uncovered early in the season. The cheating scandal, however, is much more serious. 

The sign-stealing scandal is an extremely complex one to break down. This is because sign-stealing is not necessarily illegal, but it comes down to the manner in which you steal signs. If you are on the sidelines during the game and breaking down the signs mentally, that is legal. Stallions broke the rules when he filmed the opposing sidelines from the stands. He was technically under Harbaugh's watch, which is what led to his suspension. Harbaugh has since returned and will lead his No. 1 ranked team to the Rose Bowl in a matchup versus Alabama. 

I believe that Michigan got off easy by only losing their coach for three games, especially considering the interim head coach won all of the games that he coached for. But I also think that the College Football Playoff will prove how much the sign stealing really helped them. Michigan will play a tough Alabama team out of the SEC in the first round of the playoffs. Should they win, they will play the winner of the Sugar Bowl, played between the University of Washington and the University of Texas. 

If Michigan can win the national championship, I think that will prove that the sign stealing did not benefit Michigan much at all. Michigan will prove that they have been the best team all season. Should they lose to Alabama, I think that that proves that not only is Michigan not a legit contender, but also that Harbaugh should likely look for a new job opportunity.