Jim Harbaugh

Jim Harbaugh

Photo Credit: Michigan Detroit Free Press

What was the Accusation?

Nothing has had college football fans in 2023 in more of an uproar than that of the most recent “sign stealing” scandal surrounding the nationally ranked Michigan Wolverines football team. In late October, an Analytics Assistant working with the football program, Connor Stalions, was suspended with pay pending investigation of the allegations. His suspension was for claims that Stalions solicited coded signals from Wolverine opponents via iPhone videos of the play signs delivered from the sidelines, including alleged photos of him standing on Central Michigan team sidelines blending in with the team’s garb and colors. Stalions eventually resigned from his position for the team.

The head coach of the Wolverines, Jim Harbaugh, was suspended by the Big Ten for three games in conjunction with the investigation. Harbaugh denied his own involvement in the scandal and although he never says it didn’t happen, he denied that his players were great on the field for any other reason than sheer talent. As head coach of the team, however, the N.C.A.A. rule holds the head coach responsible for any wrongdoing by their staffers, thus any future consequence could fall upon Harbaugh at a later time. Michigan initially sued the Big Ten and protested the suspension, but decided later on to drop the suit against the conference, surrendering to the idea that Harbaugh would be allowed on the sidelines for the remainder of the 2023 season.

Key Apologia Strategies:

Bolstering, Denial



Yeah, I was, I was, you know. I appreciate your question…um, but…um. This is, gosh, I think…um…yeah. Really…not…not…not gonna. I am not allowed to talk about them. I am not talking about them, uh. I really want to talk about the game…um.

The guys are such stalwarts. The comments keep comin’ about…um, you know, why they are good, how they are good. I mean. And….they are just good. If you know football and you watch our guys play. Um…I have said it before there are twenty, twenty-two, twenty-three guys that will be playing on Sundays next year. I truly believe there’s another thirty, thirty-five uh, you know, right behind them that will return and others that will be developing.

It’s just really good players and that’s. And if you know football, just watch the game turn on the tape.  That’s uh, that’s uh, that is why they are so good. They are good at it.

Stalwarts, I mean, savage warriors.  Uh…yeah. Go ahead and question them on why they are good, how they got good it’s practically a priceless gift to get to where we want to go.


Russo, R. (2023, October 21). No. 2 Michigan suspends staffer after NCAA launches investigation into allegations of sign stealing. Associated Press (AP).  https://apnews.com/article/michigan-sign-stealing-8923fc28dd50a0afc3e065ed18962e68

Thomas, L. (2023, November 18). The Michigan sign stealing story is the perfect college football scandal: The whole thing is stupid, which is why it’s all such good news even for Michigan. The New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/sports/sporting-scene/the-michigan-sign-stealing-story-is-the-perfect-college-football-scandal