Spare us the drama, Michigan: Your ‘challenges and adversities’ are self-inflicted | ET REALITY


Every Saturday night, Ari Wasserman and David Ubben react to the weekend’s slate of games on “See You Saturday.” On Mondays, they revisit the most important Saturday night’s instant reaction. This week: Ari praises Michigan for its big win over Penn State, but makes it clear that no one feels sorry for the Wolverines.

Most of us have seen the brief clip of Sherrone Moore collapsing on the field during her postgame interview following Michigan’s win at Penn State on Saturday afternoon. It was intense.

In case you haven’t, Michigan’s offensive coordinator turned interim head coach started crying on TV. He began by thanking God and then proceeded to profess his love for Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, with the help of some F-bombs. Moore thanked university president Santa Ono, athletic director Warde Manuel, his players and the school students. But the most direct message was directed at Harbaugh.

“I love you, man,” Moore told Harbaugh through the television cameras. “I love your shit, man. “We did this for you.”

It’s understandable why Moore would be so excited. He was thrust into this role for the second time this year, and this time he did it at the last minute. Michigan was on the plane to State College when it became known that Harbaugh would be suspended in the middle of this cheating investigation. The Wolverines were playing on the road against a one-loss Penn State team still trying to make its way into the Big Ten Championship Game.

Despite all that, Michigan proved unequivocally that it was the better team and handed Penn State a demoralizing 24-15 loss.

No one is telling Moore not to get excited. It was his team and his players who won a very close game as a visitor. They should be ecstatic. And Michigan fans have every right to feel an extra sense of pride in their team.

But the rest of us? Let’s not let the tears and emotion emanating from Moore and the rest of this Michigan team blind us to one indisputable truth: This is Michigan’s fault.

Moore acted as if Harbaugh was in the hospital or dealing with some kind of tragedy beyond his control. No. Harbaugh was down the street from Beaver Stadium sitting in the hotel and watching the Michigan game on television.

Michigan may say Harbaugh is winning while wearing t-shirts that say “Michigan vs. Everybody,” but this situation isn’t the Wolverines battling adversity or winning despite some terrible, random circumstance. Michigan is paying a consequence for violating the rules, and there is an ongoing investigation into this sign-stealing scandal to see how far it goes. Some may tell you it was a marginal competitive advantage, but others will tell you the Wolverines totally cheated to win games this year and in the past.

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It’s not a heartwarming story for Michigan as it fights a legal battle to get its coach back on the sidelines in time for the Ohio State game in two weeks. This is the Big Ten holding the program accountable for transgressions, imposing a penalty on the head coach as the figurehead of the entire program.

Ono, the university president, posted on his public X account (formerly Twitter) on Sunday morning: “Countless members of the University of Michigan family reached out to me over the weekend and I wanted to express my gratitude. Like any community, we face our share of challenges and adversity. There have been many such moments in our history. But as our team clearly demonstrated yesterday, we will respond to any challenge head-on with the conviction to do better and emerge even stronger. Go Blue!”

Challenges and adversities? I suppose so, if the challenges and adversity can be self-inflicted. That’s the kind of social media post one would expect from a university president after a tragedy.

Yes, there is some debate over whether the Big Ten should have suspended Harbaugh on Friday. I wrote after the announcement late last week that my preference would have been for the Big Ten and/or the NCAA to punish Michigan once the investigation was complete. The counterargument was that the Big Ten unequivocally had enough evidence to discipline the program for cheating, but the punishment (agree or disagree) was weak. Harbaugh is suspended but can he still recruit and coach the team during the week? Whatever.

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Michigan is hiring lawyers to fight this in court. While I understand the idea that the sanction was premature (again, I wrote that it was four days ago), I’m not sure the public should take the bait that Michigan is a victim here. Do you know how they don’t punish you? By not having a staff member develop an illegal sign-stealing scheme that included purchasing tickets for his teammates to record the signs of future opponents. Or by not having that staff member (probably) put on the Central Michigan coaching outfit and sit on the sidelines of the Michigan State game.

The questions that still need to be answered are strong. How much did Harbaugh know? Did anyone else on staff know? How much competitive advantage did Michigan gain this year? I need the answers to those questions before the hammer falls.

But Harbaugh is not a victim.

And Michigan is not a victim.

Don’t let the tears fool you. Michigan is no longer the lovable underdog trying to win a national title despite failing to recruit like Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State. At least one person on the Wolverines’ staff went outside the rules in an attempt to even the playing field.

That’s why Michigan is a villain.

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(Photo: Joe Robbins / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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