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Harbaugh’s Hands Caught in Cookie Jar

Bash Riprock

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Looks like they have targeted an individual...ex-military with UM ties.


Michigan staffer eyed as center of 'elaborate' scouting scheme, sources say

A low-level staffer with a military background has emerged as one of the linchpins in the NCAA investigation into Michigan's alleged sign-stealing operation, sources told ESPN on Thursday.

Connor Stalions, a football analyst with the Wolverines and a retired captain in the United States Marine Corps, is a person of interest in the investigation into whether No. 2-ranked Michigan violated an NCAA rule by scouting future opponents in person at games, sources said. The NCAA prohibited such scouting in 1994.

Sources said the NCAA enforcement staff's level of interest in Stalions is so significant it sought access to his computer as part of its investigation. Sources indicated that the process is underway, although it's uncertain what investigators will find.

Attempts by ESPN to reach Stalions were not returned. Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel did not return a request seeking comment.

Around Michigan's football building, Stalions is known to technically work in the recruiting department under director of recruiting Albert Karschnia. But a source said it was known in the building that he spent much of his time deciphering opponents' signals, often watching television copies of opponents' games. On Stalions' Instagram page, there are photos of him on the sideline next to two of Michigan's former defensive playcallers, Don Brown and Mike Macdonald.

"He had one role," said a source with knowledge of Michigan's staff.

What is crucial to the NCAA case isn't what Stalions did while breaking down television copies of games to learn and decode opponents' signals. It's whether or not illicit methods were used, which are alleged to include opponent scouting in different venues and was outlawed by the NCAA nearly three decades ago as a cost-cutting measure to bring more equity to the sport.

Sign stealing also violates NCAA rules if a team uses electronic equipment to decipher signals and relay the information to players and coaches. According to the 2023 NCAA football rule book, "any attempt to record, either through audio or video means, any signals given by an opposing player, coach or other team personnel is prohibited."

The allegations against Michigan appear to transcend the normal coach griping about opposing coaches stealing signals, as the depth of the allegations -- and the Big Ten's on-record affirmation of an investigation -- hint at something much more significant.

The allegations have rattled coaches and administrators around the Big Ten.

"This is worse than both the Astros and the Patriots -- it's both use of technology for a competitive advantage and there's allegations that they are filming prior games, not just in-game," a Big Ten source said. "If it was just an in-game situation, that's different. Going and filming somewhere you're not supposed to be. It's illegal. It's too much of an advantage."

Stalions, a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, was hired as an off-field analyst at Michigan in May 2022, according to a bio on his LinkedIn account. In the bio, Stalions wrote that he attempts to "employ Marine Corps philosophies and tactics into the sport of football regarding strategies in staffing, recruiting, scouting, intelligence, planning and more."

Among the skills Stalions wrote about on LinkedIn were "identifying the opponent's most likely course of action and most dangerous course of action" and "identifying and exploiting critical vulnerabilities and centers of gravity in the opponent scouting process."

The son of two Michigan alumni, Stalions enrolled at the Naval Academy and was a student assistant for the Midshipmen from 2013 to 2016. After being commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps in 2017, Stalions worked as a graduate assistant at Navy before beginning his military training, according to his LinkedIn account.

While he was stationed at Camp Pendleton in California, Stalions wrote, he served as a volunteer assistant coach at Michigan from May 2015 to May 2022.

"On top of my daily duties as a Logistics Officer leading [40-plus] at a time, I volunteered for the Michigan football staff, flying back [and] forth on my own dime, assisting the defensive staff," Stalions wrote.

In a profile of Stalions on the website Soldiers to Sidelines in January 2022, he said he purchased a house and rented each of the bedrooms on Airbnb, while sleeping on the couch, to help pay for his travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Stalions retired as a captain in the Marine Corps in May 2022 and joined Michigan's staff as an off-field analyst.

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On 10/21/2023 at 12:09 AM, Bash Riprock said:

Staffer suspended…MSU walking their backup QB on to the field between plays to deliver the play call verbally…8th blowout win and largest margin of victory this season.


On 10/21/2023 at 12:09 AM, Bash Riprock said:

Also, OSU stating they caught wind before the 2022 game that Michigan may be stealing signs…so they admitted they switched things up at halftime…

Then were out scored 28-3 in the second half, lol.

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1 minute ago, temptation said:

Staffer suspended…MSU walking their backup QB on to the field between plays to deliver the play call verbally…8th blowout win and largest margin of victory this season.


Sparty is a true dumpster fire. It will be interesting to see how that coaching situation shakes out.

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On 10/21/2023 at 12:09 AM, Bash Riprock said:

I have a tough time believing Stalions was attending games on his own dime without the direction of a certain individual at the top. Military men are naturally good at following “orders”.

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Another ESPN update....


The scope of the alleged illicit scouting ring being orchestrated by suspended Michigan analyst Connor Stalions continues to grow, as sources told ESPN on Tuesday that he bought tickets for games at four schools outside of the Big Ten that were either in College Football Playoff contention or playing contenders.

There also is record of Stalions buying tickets to the 2021 and 2022 SEC title games, sources told ESPN. The tickets to the SEC title games were purchased on the secondary market, according to sources.

ESPN also learned that Stalions, who is at the center of an NCAA investigation into Michigan's alleged sign-stealing operation, bought tickets to a 12th Big Ten school, as sources at 12 of the 13 possible Big Ten schools have a record of Stalions buying a ticket there. ESPN reported on Monday there were 11 schools.

According to four sources, all of the tickets for games outside the Big Ten involved CFP contenders and were purchased either toward the middle or end of the 2022 season, as Michigan was headed to the College Football Playoff for the second consecutive season.

The Big Ten announced last week that Michigan (8-0, 5-0) is under NCAA investigation for the alleged sign-stealing operation. The Wolverines are the No. 2 team in the country and the current betting favorite to win the national title.

ESPN has confirmed that Stalions has purchased tickets to more than 35 games at 17 stadiums around the country. He has used a network of at least three people, who were forwarded the tickets to attend games.

A source told ESPN on Tuesday that the NCAA has been sent at least an hour of video evidence that shows a person sitting in a seat appearing to video the home sideline with a smartphone. Stalions purchased the ticket for that seat. The video is expected to be used as part of the investigation to show that electronics were used in the signal-stealing ring, according to sources.

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On 10/22/2023 at 8:10 PM, Footballking16 said:

I have a tough time believing Stalions was attending games on his own dime without the direction of a certain individual at the top. Military men are naturally good at following “orders”.

I totally agree!  The Head Coach would not let an assistant do this on his own.  This came from the top!

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2 hours ago, Bobref said:

Whether there was any wrongdoing on Harbaugh’s part or not, is one of the likely consequences of the negative publicity and hassle of investigation Harbaugh to the NFL next season?

Likely. The question is would Kevin Warren allow it for the Bears. I could also see Harbaugh looking for the NFL if he wins a Title at Michigan. I look at it as he came back home, added hardware to the Trophy case, and he's ready for a run at a Super Bowl. I can't believe a competitive freak like that can sit at a table with his brother knowing he himself doesn't have a Super Bowl Ring. Then it just depends on whether or not trying to do it in Chicago interests him.  


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12 hours ago, PHJIrish said:

This is very similar to the Pete Carroll situation at USC a few years back.  You, or one of you staff, get caught and it's on to the NFL.  No repercussions whatsoever.

I believe it was Royce Waltman who said, “Get fired for anything but losing”.

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At this point, the only question seems to be whose heads are going to roll.


Sources: TCU knew of Michigan's sign-stealing scheme prior to CFP game, used 'dummy signals' to dupe Wolverines

During TCU’s game against Michigan in last year’s College Football Playoff semifinal, trickery was afoot.

TCU coaches, having gained information on Michigan’s elaborate sign-stealing scheme, changed many of their play-call signals before kickoff. However, head coach Sonny Dykes and the Horned Frogs staff had grander ideas than just changing signals.

They pulled a fast one on the Wolverines.

They mixed in new play-call signals with old ones, using what one TCU staff member described as “dummy signals” in an effort to trick the UM staff. The dummy signals were old play-calls that had since been changed. Players were told to ignore the dummy signals and run the original play as called with the new signals.

“Sometimes we froze a play before the snap,” said one TCU coach. “We’d call a play and then we’d signal in another play with an old signal but we told players to run the original play.”

TCU, a 7.5-point underdog, beat Michigan 51-45 in that semifinal clash in the Fiesta Bowl, stunning much of the college football world in a victory that propelled Dykes’ team to the national championship game against Georgia. The Horned Frogs lost that game, 65-7, but their semifinal victory stands as one of the more incredible upsets in the history of the College Football Playoff — and, now, serves as another wrinkle in what’s evolved into the college game’s version of Deflategate.

A week into the saga, most know the details by now: A now-suspended Michigan analyst, Connor Stalions, purchased tickets to more than 40 college football games in an effort to record opponents’ signals in what has been unearthed as an elaborate, three-year scheme that has rocked the sport. In news first reported by Yahoo Sports last Thursday, the NCAA is investigating the program for a violation of the association’s rules around in-person scouting.

Over the last seven days, more news connected to the case has trickled out from various media outlets.

Most recently, the Washington Post reported Wednesday that an outside investigative firm first tipped off the NCAA last week to Michigan’s sign-stealing scheme, presenting officials with documents uncovered from computers maintained and accessed by UM coaches that outlined the system, including travel schedules and expenses for future trips.

On Thursday, the Associated Press reported that NCAA investigators were on campus at Michigan gathering information for the probe. No evidence has emerged either implicating coach Jim Harbaugh directly or showing he had knowledge of Michigan's in-person scouting operation, sources tell Yahoo Sports. The NCAA investigation is still ongoing.

The breadth of the scheme appears to be massive. Stalions purchased tickets to games at 12 of 13 Big Ten schools for a total of 30 games, according to a Monday report from ESPN. At least one of the schools produced in-stadium surveillance video of someone recording the sideline in the seat Stalions booked. He also purchased tickets to games involving CFP contenders like Tennessee, Georgia, Oregon, Alabama and Clemson, as well as the last two SEC championship games, Yahoo Sports reported Tuesday.

In one instance, Stalions bought a ticket to Tennessee’s game against Kentucky last season in view of the Volunteers’ sideline. Three minutes after the purchase, he transferred the ticket, presumably, to an associate or friend designated to record the game.

At TCU, the school has found no evidence that Stalions purchased a ticket to a home game last season, but there were ample opportunities to record the Horned Frogs in road games or in the Big 12 championship against Kansas State.

Not long after the CFP unveiled the 2022 semifinal matchups — Georgia vs. Ohio State and TCU vs. Michigan — the Horned Frogs staff began receiving phone calls from coaches across the country about what was a well-known fact in the Big Ten coaching community: that Michigan had an elaborate sign-stealing system.

Many of those on the TCU staff were unaware before the calls. Coaches from several Big Ten schools, including Ohio State, informed TCU coaches of the scheme.

“Literally everybody we talked to knew,” said one TCU coach. “They’d say, ‘Just so you know, they steal your signals and they’re going to have everything so you better change them.’”

One coach told the staff that Michigan “has the most elaborate signal-stealing in the history of the world.”

TCU changed some of the signals. More interesting, though, is that they purposely used the old signals to trick the Wolverines — a move not-so-surprising given the savvy nature of their head coach. Dykes is a protégé of Mike Leach, a coach known for poking fun at those who steal signals. In one game while coach at Washington State, Leach learned that the coach of his team’s next opponent, Arizona State's Todd Graham, was notorious for stealing signals. During the game against ASU, Leach aggressively flashed signals toward Graham in a hilarious moment that’s made the rounds on social media over the last few days.

Plenty of folks see much of Leach in Dykes. And so why not give the Wolverines some of their own medicine?

Dykes and staff crafted a game plan that, at least in part, used the dummy signals to fool coach Harbaugh and signaler Stalions. TCU scored first-half touchdowns on drives of 10 plays for 83 yards and 12 plays for 76 yards. The Frogs scored more points on Michigan than any team that season (51), eclipsing the next highest scoring opponent by 24 points.

“The guy [Stalions] was wrong a couple of times,” one TCU staff member said. “We rewatched the TV version of the game. You can see him standing next to the defensive coordinator. He tells something to the coordinator and he points in the air to mean pass. You can see the playsheet he’s holding with our hand signs on them.”

TCU did a variety of measures to avoid the issue beyond changing some signs. The staff purposely signaled in plays late as to not leave enough time for Stalions to relay the signal to coaches.

“There are some times in the game that they still got us,” a TCU staff member said, “especially on short-yardage.”

Signal-stealing is not against NCAA rules. However, the association prohibits coaches or staff members scouting games of upcoming opponents in person — a near 30-year-old rule. Stealing an opponent’s signals during a game or from the television broadcast is not against NCAA rules. In fact, it’s quite common in college football.

Through history, plenty of opposing coaches have been caught by rival schools scouting games, spring games or practices, yet many of them go unpublicized and are quietly dealt with by the NCAA.

The Michigan case represents the largest scale sign-stealing scheme ever publicized in the recent history of college sports. It’s no surprise that the system eventually leaked because of its sheer size and foolish moves.

Stalions bought tickets in his own name and Michigan staff members used large white playsheets during games on the sideline that showed the opposing team’s hand signals in black — still shots of which have made their way across the internet.

Big Ten coaches caught on long ago.

As Yahoo Sports reported last week, news of the sign-stealing spread enough that multiple Michigan opponents this season dropped their signaling and used wristbands for much of the offensive play-calling during the game against the Wolverines.

“We heard they had a guy pick plays pretty good and had all this information from not your typical ways of getting the signals,” a Big Ten staff member said. “We get into the game and it’s the second quarter. I see him across the field and he’s checking his 11x17 sheet.”

The sign-stealing dates back to at least 2021, according to sources. The Wolverines have won 33 of their last 36 games dating back to that season. Michigan is 8-0 and ranked No. 2 this season and is on a bye this week before a home game against Purdue on Nov. 4.

A timeline for the NCAA’s investigation is unclear. It only started last week. NCAA inquiries such as this often extend months, if not years, and feature an even

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56 minutes ago, Grover said:

Michigan and Harbaugh are frauds. That is hilarious how TCU played them. 😆

Let's allow the season to play out.

OSU stated that after the game in 2021, they were on to Michigan stealing signs and were not going to let it happen again in 2022.  They then said that in the first half of the 2022 game that Michigan had figured them out again and they switched things up at halftime...then they were outscored 28-3 in the second half, lol.

"Sign guy" was suspended when the story broke last Thursday...Michigan goes out and wins 49-0 (should have been 56-0) two days later.

If the Wolverines run the table without "sign guy" including convincing wins over PSU and OSU what's that say?

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1 hour ago, BDGiant93 said:

Harbaugh should have pulled the back to the NFL lever long ago.

Why? He has a legitimate shot at the big prize this year, which would only enhance his bargaining power with the NFL. And the NFL people will care less if the NCAA says he broke their stupid rules.

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