This is an interesting spot I find myself. I am brimming with pride about the Michigan football team and their victory over Maryland to put the program at 1000 wins in its history. That’s just an amazing number. No other program in the country has achieved that. It is a statement about this football program and its consistency over the long haul. It is a statement about the players that have come through this program, from the likes of Willie Heston way back at the beginning, to Mikey Sainristil or Blake Corum who both played major roles in victory number 1000 at Maryland. It is a statement about the coaches, and coaching staffs that this program has featured, from Yost, to Kipke, to Crisler, to Elliott, to Schembechler, Moeller, Carr and now Harbaugh. It is close to 150 years of excellence, tradition, and legacy that no other program can match.
On the other hand, I am disappointed in the events of last week, when Michigan accepted the Big Ten penalty to Jim Harbaugh of the three game suspension for Michigan footballs involvement in the alleged sign stealing scandal. From the previous Friday when there was outrage, and rightly so, to capitulation 6 days later. Something obviously happened in the final 72 hours before the Thursday agreement for Michigan to stand down from legal action against the conference. We then found out that something had happened, and it resulted in the dismissal of assistant coach Chris Partridge. There are reports from sources about what precipitated Partridge’s dismissal, but, I have been consistent about not believing a lot of these reports from sources, good or bad, so I’m not going to speculate on Patridhge’s offense. The fact is, he was dismissed for a reason. That is disappointing, and whatever the reason, it clearly had an effect on Michigan’s stance regarding their attempts to get an injunction to reinstate Coach Harbaugh for the final 2 games.
The other fact of this whole mess is that the Big Ten stated in their release after the two sides settled that their investigation of the matter was closed. The NCAA probe continues. According to Big Ten by laws, that should have been the process from the beginning, but commissioner Petitti chose to insert himself as judge, jury, and executioner, and I still think he harmed the Conference irreparably with his actions.
The other fact is that in the same statement from the Big Ten, the Conference stated that there has been no evidence presented that implicates Jim Harbaugh knew anything about the alleged infractions.
It kind of leaves me in limbo, and maybe a lot of you also. Look, I don’t believe for a second that Harbaugh knew of anything close to being illegal going on. I know a lot of those coaches, and I know they wouldn’t be involved in it either. Guys like Sherrone Moore, Ron Bellamy, Mike Hart, Jesse Minter and the rest are as solid a group as you’ll find. Yet, one in their midst was dismissed for a reason. The problem is, from a national perspective, the reporting from some of these so called experts is trying to downplay this team and it’s accomplishments. That’s just ludicrous. It is irresponsible and frankly, downright dishonest, to suggest these players are anything but the best of the best. They are the leaders and best according to the lyrics in the fight song. I am very proud of the University and its football program and the players who have worn the uniform. That will never change. The haters will be haters no matter what. It’s a fact of life, when you are on top, there will be those who want to take you down for no reason other than you are on top. And, we are on top, you can’t argue with 1000 wins in our history.
And, speaking of that, you will never convince me that any of the wins we’ve had over the past 5 years have had anything to do with stolen signs. We have been better, simple as that! And, in 2021 Michigan lost to MSU and Georgia…apparently the Wolverines didn’t steal their signs huh? I guess what I am trying to convey is that it is impossible to prove that any Michigan victory over the past few years was a direct result of something illegal. I can show you more evidence of poor officiating that has had more of an effect on a game. Remember the Michigan TD pass reception by Roman Wilson disallowed by replay in the TCU national semi final last year? I wonder if anybody suspended that official? I’ll bet he’s still in some replay booth somewhere. And, I’ve got more in my memory banks if you want to go there.
The last point I want to make, an then I’ll go away and enjoy Ohio State week and the build up to the greatest rivalry game in all of sport. Let’s all remember, and let’s remind all the naysayers out there that the players on this team deserve credit for what they’ve accomplished during their time in Ann Arbor on this football team.
Back in January and February during winter work outs, there were no signs or signals from the opponents that gave these Michigan players an edge in the weight room. They were on their own sweating, and grinding to get stronger. They enjoyed no advantage in running stadium steps, or running countless pass routes against imaginary defensive backs in the summer to get ready. How many passes did JJ McCarthy throw in the summer with no advantage from the other guys signs or signals? They went through 3 hour practices in the spring just getting better on their own. They deserve the credit for their efforts. They are good because they made themselves good. Maybe, just maybe, Michigan has really good players, who work their butts off to get better. Their work manifests itself with great team efforts that result in wins against good teams trying to do the same. Let’s never diminish the effort and the work of these young men.
That’s what I am going to hang my hat on for this episode. These young men, win or lose, have dedicated themselves since 2021 to win for Michigan. Some of them, who could have gone to the pro’s, came back this season to win for Michigan. Let’s never forget that. They deserve our support and our respect. Maybe I’m reaching back to my roots for the resolve to navigate this whole convoluted and unsubstantiated attack we are experiencing. I keep thinking back to my old coach, Bo Schembechler, and his granite solid commitment to the one thing that never fails you…. The Team, The Team, The Team!
Let’s go beat Ohio State, and enjoy your Thanksgiving. Good health and Go Blue to you all.