While Michigan might be looking to distance itself from Connor Stalions amid the NCAA’s investigation into its alleged sign-stealing scheme, Stalions used to boast about his close relationships with Wolverine coaches in text messages.
According to text messages obtained by Sports Illustrated that Stalions sent in January and February 2021 to a Power 5 student looking to break into the college football industry, the Michigan staffer wrote that he was “close with the whole staff,” specifically saying he was “close with CP and Jay Harbs,” apparent references to Michigan linebackers coach Chris Partridge and special teams coordinator Jay Harbaugh.
Stalions also wrote that before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, he “stole opponent signals during the week watching tv copies then flew to the game and stood next to (former Michigan offensive coordinator Josh) Gattis and told him what coverage/pressure he was gettin.”
While those messages don’t indicate any prohibited activity on Stalions’ part, as it is legal to steal signs off of televised footage, it serves as further evidence of his longstanding connections to Michigan’s staff as the NCAA investigates whether Stalions broke NCAA rules by allegedly purchasing tickets to college football games around the country and sending people to film the sidelines from those seats for the purpose of stealing opponents’ signals.
The Sports Illustrated report also surfaced several other interesting details about Stalions’ past, including that he claimed to have a 550-600 page Google Doc that he called “the Michigan Manifesto,” which he updated daily with plans for the future of the Wolverine football program.
“Any idea you could ever have,” Stalions reportedly wrote, “there’s a place where it belongs in the document. It’s super organized.”
Stalions also claimed in his text messages that he obtained a decade’s worth of standardized test scores and GPAs for approximately 500 Navy football players during his time as a student at the Naval Academy, where he worked as a student assistant for the football program. The Naval Academy told SI in a statement that “individual data obtained through the Naval Academy admissions process, to include high school test scores and GPAs, is protected under the Privacy Act and not shared or made available outside the Office of Admissions,” and that “any Naval Academy official who inappropriately accessed that data would be subject to criminal and civil penalties associated with the Privacy Act.”
According to reports this week, Stalions bought tickets to games hosted by at least 12 of the other 13 Big Ten schools over the past three years as well as to games involving several other College Football Playoff contenders including Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Oregon and Tennessee.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has denied knowledge of any illegal sign-stealing, saying in a statement last Thursday that he does “not have any knowledge or information regarding the University of Michigan football program illegally stealing signals, nor have I directed any staff member or others to participate in an off-campus scouting assignment.” Both Harbaugh and the university have said they are fully cooperating with the NCAA’s investigation.