The Student News Site of Berkley High School


The Student News Site of Berkley High School


The Student News Site of Berkley High School


The Michigan Sign-Stealing Scandal, Explained

Wolverines Wire
Connor Stalions before Michigan’s season opener against East Carolina University.

The University of Michigan football program is under investigation after being accused by various other Big Ten teams of sign stealing. ESPN first published this report on October 19, two days before Michigan traveled to East Lansing and played MSU for the Paul Bunyan trophy. Since then, more reports about the scandal have been released, causing confusion and anger across the NCAA.

To start off, let’s define a few key things here. The Wolverines are being accused of sign stealing. In college football, coaches often hold up signs and give signals to the players on the field as a way to call plays. Stealing those signs during a game is a fairly common thing for teams to do. If Michigan plays Michigan State and notices a certain sign on the other sideline that correlates with a play, they are allowed to take note of that. What they are being accused of, however, is an illegal form of sign stealing.

According to ESPN, the man at the center of this scandal is Connor Stalions, a 28-year-old low level staffer who was hired by the Michigan football program in 2022. Days after news of the scandal broke, the NCAA revealed that they had uncovered a big piece of evidence against Michigan. Stalions had bought more than thirty tickets to games involving eleven different teams within the Big Ten. Video surveillance footage inside the stadium showed multiple people video-recording the entire game from the seats that Stalions had bought.

So what does this mean? Based on the evidence, it seems like Michigan is sending its employees to Big Ten games involving teams that the Wolverines are yet to play. Let’s take Ohio State for example. Michigan is yet to play Ohio State, so, according to the allegations, Connor Stalions would have bought a ticket to a OSU game earlier in the season. Stalions would send this ticket out to someone else and the person who sat in Stalions’ seat would video the entire game so that they could see the signs from the Ohio State sideline. This, according to the NCAA Men’s Football rulebook, falls under the use of “illegal technology” to steal signs.

While the allegations are bad in and of themselves, the story has only escalated as time has gone on.

As soon as the NCAA began the investigation, Connor Stalions was suspended by the University of Michigan with pay. In the midst of the investigation, Sports Illustrated released a full report on who Connor Stalions is. This report reveals that the NCAA uncovered a text exchange from 2021 between Stalions and a then student at a Power Five school who was looking for a career in college football. In these text messages (which were before he was officially employed by Michigan), Stalions boasted that he was close with the entire Michigan staff. He said he would watch TV copies of opponents’ games prior to playing Michigan and would steal signs from those videos, which is a legal way to steal signs based on the NCAA rulebook.

But the most suspicious thing about Stalions is a 600-page Google Doc with a blueprint for Michigan’s future. This, which he calls the ‘Michigan Manifesto’, is a massive document that Stalions updated daily with his plans to climb the ladder of Michigan and eventually become the head coach.

On Halloween, ESPN released another report placing Stalions in a suspicious position in the very first week of the season. This report shows photos of a man resembling Stalions on Central Michigan’s sideline in their first game. And who did Central Michigan play in that game? Michigan State. While the photos are not confirmed to be Stalions, there is a resemblance there, and if this was the case, the consequences could be significantly more impactful for the Wolverines.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh denies any knowledge of this sign-stealing scandal. “I want to make it clear that I, and my staff, will fully cooperate with the investigation into this matter,” Harbaugh said in his statement. “I do not have any knowledge or information regarding the University of Michigan football program illegally stealing signals, nor have I directed staff members or others to participate in an off-campus scouting assignment. I have no awareness of anyone on our staff having done that or having directed that action.”

At this point, it is mostly unclear as to whether or not this is more of a problem with Connor Stalions or the football program itself. As new reports continue to spill out, Michigan and Big Ten fans alike anxiously await the NCAA’s conclusion and the steps moving forward.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Aiden Aronoff
Aiden Aronoff, Copy Editor
Hey everyone! My name is Aiden. I’m so excited to be your copy editor this upcoming year! I am a senior and this is my third year on the staff of the Spectator. I’m a huge movie nerd and Detroit sports fan! I have my own movie blog, Sweet n' Sour Movie Blog, where I do movie reviews. I love hanging out with friends, watching movies (obviously!), being active, and reading/writing. Can’t wait for this year!

Comments (0)

All THE SPECTATOR Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *