Threat Level Wants the Truth, Or, Barring That, A Comforting Lie

By Johnny Ginter on October 30, 2023 at 7:25 pm
*alert sound*

If you haven't been following every twist and turn of the Michigan sign-stealing scandal over the last week, I'm here to help.

The operative word help in this case comes in 148 point font quotation marks, and to further underline that I don't intend to take any of this seriously, I strongly recommend that you play this song in the background while reading this week's Threat Level. Loudly, and on a loop.


The Michigan Wolverine football program coach JIM HARBAUGH's intricate system of advanced AI electronic espionage software, codenamed OKORN (Observational Komputational Offensive Reconnaissance Network), has been exposed to the public via the actions of a rouge Navy SEAL sniper named CONNOR STALIONS.

STALIONS had been using proxies to obtain audiovisual data of unsuspecting targets across the American Midwest, in an attempt to eventually allow OKORN unlimited surveillance of all athletic competitions on Earth. Financed by either his mom or by Michigan football directly, STALIONS had spent years undercover under the assumed name of CONNOR STALIONS, feverishly cataloging data and storing it in a triple encrypted, DNA-locked Google Drive account that no Michigan coach would ever, ever look at even if they knew about it because why would they, ha ha that'd be crazy, of course they wouldn't, quit asking about it.

bweeeeee ooooooooo

However, during the course of a secondary investigation into Unspecified Computer Crimes (UCCs), elite computer hacker RYAN DAY was anonymously given a 3.5 inch floppy disk containing a 600 page manifesto written by STALIONS. While most of said manifesto was copy and pasted excerpts from John LeCarre novels, DAY noticed that every fourth word on every eleventh page spelled out the longitude and latitude of HARBAUGH's secret UCC lair: SPEIGHT'S END.

Now it is a race against the clock as DAY and his team, codenamed BRU-TUS, attempt to infiltrate SPEIGHT'S END, defeat HARBAUGH, and shut down OKORN before it's able to upload itself to a worldwide network of military satellites. But what about the whereabouts of STALIONS? Who gave DAY his manifesto? And who or what is the NCAA, a shadowy organization watching and waiting from afar?


I briefly considered making the Threat Level this week just an extensive retelling of the various ways that Michigan fans have attempted to cope with the cognitive dissonance of being Dirty Program enjoyers over the last week, but after reading approximately a billion variations of "Ryan Day paid the FBI to entrap Michigan Men into doing nothing wrong, actually" my eyes kind of glazed over and I stopped wanting to make hay out of gallons of digital flop sweat.

If that's something you desire, it's incredibly easy to find: just look at the message boards and forums and subreddits where Wolverines congregate and you'll find pages and pages of people making every mental leap necessary to ignore the most obvious reading of a piece of news and convince themselves that things are fine.

Great, in fact, and everyone else is just a jealous hater that can't beat Michigan (please don't look up Jim Harbaugh's overall record against Ohio State or Top 10 opponents or in bowl games). The Wolverines will come out of this smelling like roses, beat the Buckeyes by 50, win a national championship, it'll turn out that it's Ohio State that broke the rules, and every Michigan fan will have a personal letter of apology delivered to their doorstep by, I don't know, Jim Tressel or Troy Smith or somebody. They aren't mad! They're laughing, it's funny, it's just dusty in here.

This is nervous, twitchy behavior that I am well familiar with, because I've seen it play out exactly like this during the times the Buckeyes have run afoul of NCAA rules in some significant way. Tattoogate is a good metric here, but I'll add that while it has taken Michigan fans approximately 10 days to lose their minds, Ohio State fans had to deal with that story for half a year. If this story gets any more drawn out (or if Michigan loses a game), I'm going to have to dictate these things to Chase from a pay phone in Canada.



Last week my only ask of Michigan fans was to attempt to practice some level of self-reflection.

They did not.

I truly don't care that much about sign-stealing, even if it was at the level that's alleged. It's very funny if Harbaugh's recent success is built on cheating, but given that Ohio State is 17-3 in their last 20 games against the Wolverines, it's hard to find the capacity to be outraged. I also don't think that Michigan will get nearly as much heat as some are predicting, largely because the NCAA is a toothless organization and the Big Ten doesn't want to tip the apple cart if they don't have to. Any punishment or revelations that come out of this story will likely be small potatoes compared to, you know, the other (apparently unrelated) thing Michigan football is being investigated for right now.

Which is my point: the thing about institutional integrity, which Michigan fans are just beginning to understand, is that human nature can keep the cart on the track for only so long before someone gives into their most primal urges and licks the electrical outlet. Reset the clock. Back to square one.

That applies everywhere, including in Ann Arbor, and you just have to hope that whatever stupid thing that initiated a very serious conversation about employee malfeasance was more on the "quit putting printer ink in your coffee" end of the spectrum and not "there's an incontinent javelina that's loose in the vents and we have twenty minutes to catch it or we're all fired".

I would hope that for just one measly second the even the most self-righteous of Wolverines would take a look at the sum total of the shit Michigan has either done or been accused of doing in just the past few years alone and go "damn, I guess we're not so perfect" and use that as motivation to be better and to hold people to the standard you claim to protect.

Or don't! It doesn't really matter to me as long as nobody gets hurt and Michigan fans are mad. Either way, the Threat Level continues to be SEVERE, in more ways than one.

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