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REPORT: Michigan football vs. Big Ten will “get ugly”

One source tells ESPN that the Michigan football vs. Big Ten battle will “get ugly”

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Michigan football, Big Ten, Jim Harbaugh
© Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

On the field, the Wolverines are ready to face No. 10 Penn State this Saturday in a massive top-10 conference matchup that will largely decide the conference title and College Football Playoff races. Off the field, however, it appears to be Michigan football vs. Big Ten, as the conference and its new commissioner, Tony Petitti, consider in-season punishment for Jim Harbaugh and his Wolverines amid the sign-stealing scandal. Per one source in a new ESPN report, things are about to “get ugly.”

Michigan football vs. Big Ten “will get ugly”

The Michigan football program recently responded to a notice of potential punishment from the Big Ten Conference, which was issued earlier this week amid the sign-stealing scandal. Per new reports from ESPN, the University of Michigan has brought in one of the nation’s top litigating firms — Williams & Connolly — to help with the case for Harbaugh and his Wolverines.

From the source

If nothing else, the past few weeks have proven to the nation, the Big Ten, the NCAA, and others that Michigan will not roll over for anyone. U-M leadership, including President Santa Ono, are ready to go to battle, and according to one source, they expect things to get ugly.

“This is going to get ugly,” one Michigan source told ESPN in a new report. “We don’t think this is fair that 13 schools gang up on one, and the commissioner will just give in. Does (conference commission Tony Petitti) have the authority? No question. But we have a lot of levers of power, too.”

Jim Harbaugh and Michigan are ready to be tested

With Michigan football and Jim Harbaugh lawyered up, as well as new evidence against other Big Ten teams being presented to the conference, Tony Petitti has a big decision to make. On one hand, he may elect to suspend Jim Harbaugh for sign-stealing despite there being zero evidence that links him to the scandal — this will reportedly likely lead to a legal battle between the University of Michigan and the Big Ten.

On the other hand, there is growing speculation that Petitti may point to the evidence against all parties as a reason to back down and allow the NCAA to conclude its investigation before taking action.

How will U-M argue the Big Ten Conference in court?

From the report:

“Michigan likely will argue that the Big Ten had agreed to monitor the NCAA investigation and await its results, and only intervened as a response to pressure from competitors within the conference. The Big Ten did not initiate its own investigation, which the sportsmanship policy allows, and has essentially been relying on information from various sources during an ongoing external probe. The information about Michigan only surfaced weeks ago, and college athletics have a long history of much more serious infractions that have taken much longer to be resolved.”

Michigan-Penn State remains the focus inside of Schembechler Hall

It is thought that the Big Ten Conference will now wait and evaluate Michigan’s response before taking any action at all. ESPN reporter Pete Thamel even suggests that action may not be taken until later, depending on how the conference receives the Wolverines’ response.

Regardless, the only thing that is certain right now is that No. 3 Michigan football and No. 10 Penn State will face off this weekend in arguably the biggest conference game of the year thus far.



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CJ has covered college athletics in paid roles for around five years, including numerous sports and beats. His most recent work revolves largely around Penn State and Michigan football and basketball as a member of the credentialed media at both schools. Right now, CJ writes for Blue by Ninety, where he also serves as the site's credentialed football reporter. He also does some credentialed basketball coverage. Previously, CJ has made stops with sites like GBMWolverine, Saturday Blitz, Steeler Nation, and more.

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