NCAAF Michigan, Still a Contender, Punished by NCAA

The Big 10 is now eighteen and with the Wolverines facing sanctions the conference championship is wide open.

With huge changes at Michigan, it's a very different Big 10 this season

The Michigan Wolverines won the 2024 National Title, but have been through much change (and not all of it good) since then. Coach Jim Harbaugh blew town, bolting to the Bolts, as in Los Angeles Chargers, while the roster was hit hard by graduation (some off to NFL) and transfers.

This past week saw the Michigan football program hit with sanctions, courtesy of the NCAA. Michigan had struck an agreement with the NCAA in order to expedite the process, but the amount of penalties are going to hurt it. 

Michigan Big 10 sanctionsTry probation over the next three seasons, a fine and some recruiting restrictions as well. While those penalties are going to hamper the school, Michigan is always going to attract the athletes.  

There was also coaching being done by non-coaching staff. Those punishments are going to impact the current program, while the investigation against Harbaugh is not over. 

Harbaugh wasn‘t consulted when Michigan made the decision to make a deal with the NCAA, and the Wolverines didn’t know of the details until they were released. There may be more sanctions against the coach, though not enforceable since he probably won’t return to college.

There won’t be identities released of those individuals nailed in the investigation, though those coaches can serve their punishments immediately. Harbaugh had a three-game suspension at the beginning of last season, while new coach Sherrone Moore also missed a game. 

All of the aforementioned punishments were directly related to recruiting violations, with nothing to do with the other big story around the Wolverines. Michigan was involved in an elaborate sign-stealing case led by former ‘analyst’ Connor Stallions. That’s still being investigated.

Michigan and the Big Ten were notified of the allegations last November, Stallions was officially bounced and other schools were/are urging the conference to come down hard on Michigan. An ultimate resolution is TBD as of this writing.

Repeating as Champs? 

Though the Michigan Wolverines are going to have significant roster turnover next season, they’re still in the mix to repeat as champions. Michigan was one of the wagering favorites entering last season. That won’t be the case this time around. 

The Georgia Bulldogs, though derailed by Alabama in the SEC title game last season, are back as favorites. UGA is the 33-10 (+330) choice, according to NCAA football championship odds, as the Dawgs eye a third grid title in four seasons.

Michigan’s arch rival, the Ohio State Buckeyes, are next on the list at 17-4 (+425), while the Maize and Blue are priced at 16-1 (+1600).  

The Texas Longhorns, now in the SEC, have their supporters at 7-1 (+700), while the Oregon Ducks, joining the Wolverines in Big Ten, are at 9-1 (+900). 

Remember that the College Football Playoffs expand to a dozen teams in 2024, so the need to win a particular conference isn’t nearly as great. 

Since we’re discussing conferences… 

Ten Now Eighteen 

Life in the Big Ten became much different, that after the conference picked the carcass of what used to be the Pac-12 and came away with Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington. Adding the Ducks, Bruins, Trojans and Huskies bumped the Big Ten to the ‘Big Eighteen,’ with no divisions.  

The Ohio State Buckeyes are the favorites to win the conference, priced at 3-2 (+150), as per college football conference odds.

Oregon is next at 5-2 (+250), as the Ducks bring a top-tier program into the league.

Michigan is a 9-2 (+450) proposition, while the Penn State Nittany Lions are at 6-1 (+600).

Regardless of your affiliation, expect a much different version of the conference this season.

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