The Big Ten will have to choose between prestige and a paycheck when it comes to disciplining Michigan

The Big Ten will have to choose between prestige and a paycheck when it comes to disciplining Michigan

Major collegiate athletic conferences are like parents, they can’t treat all of their schools/kids the same. Michigan has always been the Big Ten’s favorite son. And in the coming weeks and months, we’re going to find out if the most prestigious, arrogant, important, and wealthiest conference in all of sports is going to put Michigan on “timeout” or tell them to “go get a switch.”

As the information about the sign-stealing allegations against Michigan continues to be revealed, the most damaging ones — for now — dropped this week. According to multiple reports, Connor Stalions, the suspended staff member who is believed to be at the center of an alleged elaborate sign-stealing scheme, bought tickets in his name for more than 30 games over the past three years at 11 different Big Ten schools, and for potential schools outside of the Big Ten that Michigan could play in the College Football Playoff.

To break it down even more — the dude was buying tickets with seats on both sides of the stadium and had people go and record signs the teams were using on their phones.

If you go on Twitter — I refuse to call it “X” — there are countless threads, videos, pictures, and theories about what Stalions did, or didn’t do, who he is, and isn’t connected to, and what this might mean for Michigan’s run over the last three seasons. Some of the stuff sounds crazy. But, some of the stuff also feels like this could go down as one of the worst cheating scandals in sports history.

But, this is America. And in this country, there’s a big difference between how things should go, and how they’ll actually go.

This is Michigan, not Northwestern. Football isn’t what they’re known for in Evanston, books are. So when allegations come out about an infested athletic department that let hazing, racism, and sexual harassment run rampant for years, it’s going to be a huge story that will lead to the head coaching being fired. But, eventually, people’s attention will move on…because it’s Northwestern.

In East Lansing, things are a complete mess. The school is still reeling from Larry Nassar as they’re trying to deal with Mel Tucker and rumors about Urban Meyer. On Saturday, they got obliterated by the Wolverines, but that wasn’t the story — it was about how somebody put Hitler on the video board. The Spartans’ 2015 College Football Playoff appearance feels like forever ago, and with a 2-5 record the Big Ten can let Michigan State deal with Michigan State.

Ohio State has its history with the fallouts from Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer — and even survived a sex scandal — but when you keep winning like they’ve won and sending a ton of players to the NFL, people tend to focus their attention on the on-field success.

We know what happened at Penn State, as time has been on their side in helping people move on from the grotesque things that Jerry Sandusky did, and what Joe Paterno ignored. And given that Iowa hasn’t been able to sustain success on the field, it’s taken the attention off all the racist allegations that have come out about what goes on in their football program.

All of those incidents that have occurred at other Big Ten schools were major stories. But, none of them happened at Michigan. Over the last few years, we’ve seen the Wolverines survive their own sex scandal and a back-and-forth between Harbaugh and the NCAA over some minor recruiting violations that irked everyone involved, leading to Harbaugh missing the first three games of this season due to a self-imposed ban by the school.

But, cheating? That’s different.

This is the school that claims to be “the leaders and the best.” This is a place that has arguably the largest living alumni on the planet. This is the winged helmet. This is the Big House. Michigan is half the reason why the Big Ten has a seven-year, $7 billion media rights deal — because networks wanted their chance to get all that comes with broadcasting the annual Michigan-Ohio State game.

If you look at this season alone, Michigan has already had its games aired on Peacock, NBC, FOX, CBS, and the Big Ten Network. Everyone wants a part of the Wolverines because they’re good for business, and now the Big Ten is supposed to come down on them when Michigan is experiencing one of their greatest runs in program history as they inch closer to being the first collegiate football team to win 1,000 games — How?

As I said, there’s a difference between what should happen to Michigan and what’s going to happen to Michigan.

According to the most recent information from the U.S. Department of Education, Michigan football’s revenue is over $131 million, Ohio State’s is just under $110 million, and Penn State’s is little over $107 million. Michigan isn’t just a really good school with great academics, it’s a place with an iconic football program that prints more money than just about anybody.

For Michigan fans and alums, it can feel like the NCAA has a target on their back, which may be true. But what Connor Stalions did or didn’t do, and who did, or didn’t tell him to do it are what could be the kill shot. But, when it comes to how the Big Ten will punish their favorite son, it might be a different story. The Big Ten is the parent to a billionaire child star who has its family on the payroll. And when that happens, it’s hard to send a kid to their room when they’re the ones who pay the mortgage.

Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.