Well, good for Michigan. They entered the CFP bracket 13-0 for the second year in a row, won the hearts of myself and many others by kicking out the undeserving Alabama Crimson Tide, then whittled down the unbeaten Washington Huskies to take the natty 34-13 and ride off into the sunset as only the fourth 15-0 college football team we’ve ever seen.
But of course, while I can respect all of these accolades, some out there neither can nor wish to, and why? Because the Michigan Wolverines are nothing more than a bunch of low-lifes that got away with cheating. That’s right, we’re still hung up on that.
Now I don’t wish for my cockiness in that statement to come off as me condoning or endorsing cheating; cheating of any kind is indisputably wrong, and teams found guilty of it must be punished as a result. With that said, it’s around there where the whining fades in.
Critics of Michigan were not only sad to see the Wolverines win the title, but see them even have a shot at it, with many wanting to see them be penalized for the controversial sign-stealing investigation that enveloped them, and some going as far as feeling that they should have been disqualified from CFP contention.
Once they made the bracket anyway, the narrative became that if Michigan were to win, the title should either have an asterisk next to it or be vacated at a later date. My goal today is to address why neither will happen, nor should they (assuming no further details ever emerge)—and it all comes back to those calls for punishment.
The demands for action against Michigan are rooted in ignorance
We’ll start with some backstory: Heading into the final few weeks of their regular season, the Wolverines were a very questionable squad; sure, we knew they were tough, and they looked like they were quite possibly the nation’s most complete team, but a fuzzy spot remained on their image as contenders due to facing no noteworthy competition. That was all set to change in Week 11, though.
From Weeks 11 to 13, Michigan saw a huge leap in opposing formidability, with their final three games consisting of visits to Penn State (brutal road atmosphere, finished season 10-3) and Maryland (trap game against an eventual eight-win bunch) before hosting Ohio State (regularly CFP-caliber rivalry game, Buckeyes finished 11-2).
A stretch like that would be diabolical regardless of how the Wolverines looked entering it, but what made matters far worse for them was the fact that they were taking it on without legendary head coach Jim Harbaugh, who had been temporarily suspended due to the program’s aforementioned sign-stealing scandal.
There. Did you catch it? Let’s go over it again.
MICHIGAN TOOK ON its TOUGHEST CHALLENGERS of the year WITHOUT HEAD COACH Jim Harbaugh DUE TO his ties to a SIGN-STEALING SCANDAL. I could be wrong, but when reading back those all-capped words, does that not sound like a team getting penalized for cheating? Therein lies the problem—folks have been calling for the Wolverines to be punished, but that’s already happened…they just ran the table in spite of it.
And mind you that this investigation getting so much press had Michigan’s future opponents being exponentially more careful in their play-signaling. I mean heck, preventative measures went as far as Alabama football players being urged not to use their personal tablets for film before facing the Wolverines in their semifinal, just so there would be all the less avenues from which game plans could be infiltrated.
So, as the Wolverines kept tackling the weeks untouched, it should have become increasingly obvious that their contention was legit (as if both their prior success and Harbaugh’s esteemed legacy hadn’t proven that enough).
Yet through it all, some of the bitter still insist on complaining, crying foul about a team that was simply better than all the rest. At best, I find that somewhat annoying, but at worst, I find it downright infuriating. My reasoning? People’s refusal to “keep that energy.”
The criticism surrounding Michigan reeks of inconsistency
Think about it: Why do the majority of college football fans roll their eyes whenever the NCAA tries to change the past, whether it be through means as pointless as vacating years-old wins or as severe as stripping Reggie Bush of his Heisman? Because it doesn’t change anything, nor do the violations that “justify” the move take away from how good the team/player was or what they accomplished.
If we were to punish Michigan in the toughest chapter of their regular season, watch them take it on the chin and finish nonetheless perfect, all just to strip the program of the accolades anyway (to the benefit of no one else), would we not be guilty of nearly identical stupidity?
Secondly, if you are someone who told Florida State fans to shut up and move one when they were unprecedentedly snubbed from the CFP, all because “it happened and nothing will change it,” what makes you think this situation is any different?
And lastly, to build off of that, if you are someone who looked at the whole FSU situation and gave zero consideration to why the Seminoles were upset because you just wanted the four “best” teams no questions asked (consistency and objectivity be damned), then why can’t we approach Michigan just as thoughtlessly? Were the Wolverines not clearly one of the best teams in America? Why do you refuse to stick your head in the sand now?
The bottom line is this: If you’re still whining about the Michigan Wolverines participating in and winning this year’s playoff, despite them being dealt a coaching suspension at the worst-possible time, then I regret to inform you that you’re wasting your breath (again, assuming we know all there is to know about their scandal).
Beyond that, if you’re whining while clowning the NCAA for past disciplinary action and/or sticking to your guns about Florida State not being snubbed, then I don't regret to inform you that you’re a hypocrite.
But alas, I must admit, while moronic college football fans get on my nerves, it saddens me to know that their voices will be dying down soon from this season coming to an end. With that, I insist on signing off here with a positive attitude—congratulations on the run Michigan, and we’ll see ya in late August!