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You’re Nuts: What would the funniest outcome of the Michigan sign-stealing scandal be?

Your (almost) daily dose of good-natured, Ohio State banter.

Ohio State Buckeyes Vs. Michigan Wolverines 11-27-2011

Everybody knows that one of the best parts of being a sports fan is debating and dissecting the most (and least) important questions in the sporting world with your friends. So, we’re bringing that to the pages of LGHL with our favorite head-to-head column: You’re Nuts.

In You’re Nuts, two LGHL staff members will take differing sides of one question and argue their opinions passionately. Then, in the end, it’s up to you to determine who’s right and who’s nuts.

Today’s Question: What would the funniest outcome of the Michigan sign-stealing scandal be?

Remember, these are the funniest possible outcomes, not the ones we think with actually happen.

Jami’s Take:

Trust me when I say that I know in my bones Matt and I are blowing Michigan’s sign-stealing scandal out of proportion.

AND… I’m going to keep doing it.

Let’s not pretend Michigan fans would take the high road and simply drop the matter if the tables were turned. We’d be hearing about it for the next century. They’d be burning Brutus in effigy. They’d probably be marching up and down High Street in their maize and blue, calling for Ryan Day’s resignation if the Buckeyes were suspected of not just stealing signs but sending a scout out to games to do so.

Because I’m going to ride the high of this storyline as long as humanly possible, trust me when I say I have fantasized about a million possible outcomes.

Most of them—short of Harbaugh losing his job (because I don’t wish unemployment on people AND because I think he’s good for the rivalry)—are funny to me.

A Bowl ban? Hilarious. Imagine a world in which Michigan finally becomes a powerhouse team rather than one that is just this side of mediocre and they STILL have nothing to show for it because they can’t compete in major games? That’s comedy, baby.

Now, there’s a world in which a Michigan bowl ban would allow OSU to make the playoffs over Michigan even if the Wolverines won The Game. That’s ha-ha funny, but it’s not an outcome I want because first, I want to win the game, and second, I don’t want to listen to Wolverine fans tell us we only got in by default.

But by far, the funniest to me involves a lawsuit. As of Tuesday afternoon, Michigan was threatening to take the Big Ten to court if the conference punished the Wolverines prior to a full investigation.

To quickly explain the complexities here—both the Big Ten and the NCAA have the power to take action against Michigan, separately, should it be determined there were infractions. As such, both are investigating, but the NCAA investigative process moves much slower. It is unlikely, therefore, that we will see any sweeping action against Michigan this season.

The Big Ten, however, can move faster, and the conference is currently facing a lot of pressure from competing athletic directors and coaches to make some moves.

Harbaugh isn’t happy about it (and frankly, even Urban Meyer has voiced that he’s not happy about it either. It does seem there’s a lot of support for letting things play out before we rush to judgment). Michigan is threatening to take legal action if the conference acts too swiftly.

I see their point—the punishment needs to fit the crime, so without understanding the scope of any violations, it’s hard to dole out fair disciplinary actions. So far, the NCAA hasn’t shared any evidence with the conference that shows Harbaugh and his assistants knew about or authorized sign stealing.

But the idea of this going to court is better than any sitcom or even an episode of SNL when the show was in its prime. You can’t manufacture this kind of hilarity. Personally, I’d LOVE to see Judge Judy, Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti, and Jim Harbaugh face off in a televised court battle.

That’s more entertaining television than 90% of the last two football seasons!

It becomes even funnier when you think about the potential ramifications of Petitti and the conference taking action.

Big Ten bylaws allow Petitti to issue a two-game suspension and up to $10,000 in fines. So far this season, Michigan’s strength of schedule has been abysmal, but that’s set to change this Saturday when they face their first real test against Penn State.

Then they face Maryland and close the season against No. 1 Ohio State.

Assuming the conference won’t act before Saturday, Harbaugh’s two-game suspension would include The Game.

That is side-splitting.

While Harbaugh already missed three games this season after a self-imposed disciplinary action in response to unrelated infractions, none of those games had the stakes of the Ohio State game. There is a strong possibility both teams will enter that game undefeated, and a playoff spot will likely be on the line.

Harbaugh wants to be there. And frankly, his team needs him there.

Ultimately, I don’t anticipate the conference taking action that could potentially rob them of the best Rivalry Game possible (with potential National Championship ramifications), but they do have the opportunity to do the funniest possible thing and set up an off-field battle in a court of law.

Matt’s Take:

In fairness to Jami, I have updated my pick here following Jim Harbaugh’s three-game suspension, but I couldn’t help but react to the absolute idiocy of the latest round of drama coming out of the sign-stealing fiasco.

Starting from today, there is still a distinct possibility that a local judge will grant a temporary restraining order that will allow Harbizzle to coach the final two games of the regular season, and while that would be funny in its own right, it’s not the funniest outcome. So, my imagined outcome involves the Mitten Men’s head coach having to seethe and watch the remaining two games from home. However, in the meantime, his team’s fans will file a class-action lawsuit against the Big Ten looking for compensation for the pain and suffering that they are having to endure because of the conference’s biased and — honestly — bigoted treatment of the Crown Prince of Ann Arbor.

The suit will look to compensate each Corn and Blue fan $1 million for having to withstand three straight weeks of not being able to see their dashing savior — or his khakis — on the sideline of games. Their lawyer’s argument will be that the emotional toil that they are forced to feel from not being able to experience the comforting aura of Screech Powers’ cousin’s presence on gameday is tantamount to assault and therefore, the B1G should not only be held financially responsible, but criminally as well.

With a case of this magnitude, the Supreme Court will rule that a single sitting judge is not nearly enough to properly decide this case, and therefore, SCOTUS will assemble an Avengers-style set of magistrates, including the aforementioned Judge Judy, Judge Mathis, Judge Joe Brown, an AI recreation of the late Judge Wapner, Judge Mills Lane, Judge “Uncle Phil” Banks, Judge Dredd, Aaron Judge, and — the chief on the panel — Simon Cowell.

As one would expect, given the importance of this precedent-defining case, the judges will evaluate every argument from Tom Mars Esq. with all of the seriousness that it deserves, and — after 64 seconds of deliberation — will rule that Mars will be stripped of his license to practice law and that it is actually every single one of the plaintiffs that owes the Big Ten money, not the other way around.

Back to Jimbo. While the Ann Arbor Muskrats will not be substantively challenged by the Maryland Terrapins next week (they might even let “Heisman Trophy contender” J.J. McCarthy throw the ball in the second half), the same will not be the case on Nov. 25. Trailing 24-10 late in the third quarter, while the erstwhile head coach is screaming at his team to run the play where everybody lines up in a straight line, he will slam his glass of 2% milk down on the table, shattering it and cutting his hand, requiring three stitches. He won’t need a cast, but he will ask the doctors to give him one anyway, and when he returns to the practice facility the next day, the entire team will simultaneously burst into tears and immediately form a prayer circle for their long put-upon martyr mentor. Everyone will then sign his cast and will dot all of their i’s with hearts.

While it will take months, in the spring of 2024, the NCAA will finally make a ruling in the case, vacating 23 TTUN victors over the past 2.5 seasons and, when combined with Matt Weiss’ firing, Alex Yood’s arrest, the Shemy Schembechler debacle, and #CheeseburgerGate, the greatest coach since Fielding Yost (and honestly, Yost couldn’t hang with Jimmy) will be hit with a failure to monitor sanction and a five-year show-cause penalty.

The only problem is, Harbaugh won’t care at all, because he will be singularly focused on preparing for his first NFL Draft as the head coach of the Chicago Bears, having peaced-out before a consolation Rose Bowl appearance. Unfortunately for the legions of UM fans who have been absolutely deluding themselves about the reality of the situation, the program will have to endure a three-year bowl ban and, in a historic step by the NCAA, the new coaching staff will have to give every one of their opponents their sign sheet and game plan prior to kickoff.

This will usher in a new Dark Ages for the Meerkats’ program, one that will force them to finally concede that Lance Leipold’s Michigan State Spartans are, in fact, the Wolverines’ big brothers.


Who has the right answer to today’s question?

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