The Weekender: Connor Stalions Legacy Cemented After NCAA Approves Helmet Comms, Denard Robinson Arrested for DUI, and Deion Sanders' Sons Attempt to Recruit Transfers Via DMs

By George Eisner on April 21, 2024 at 2:35 pm
Disgraced former Michigan football analyst Connor Stalions

Own the group chat with The Weekender, highlighting the biggest stories in college sports, standout writing from Eleven Warriors, and a glance at what's next.

The Legacy of Connor Stalions

On Friday, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight panel finally approved in-helmet communication equipment for college football, three decades after the NFL did so in 1994. Given the emphasis placed on innovating modern helmet technology in the new millennium, one can only wonder why it took so long for the standards of the collegiate game to match those of the professional ranks. Similarly, football fans may wonder why the NCAA believed right now was the correct moment to finally implement these changes.

Look no further than the sport's most recent national champion, and you will have your answer.

Less than six months ago, former Michigan football analyst Connor Stalions resigned from his job on the Wolverines' staff in wake of a sign-stealing scandal that became one of the most sensational sports stories of the past year. But after Michigan overcame Ohio State to pave its way into the postseason, a story that should have cast a shameful shadow over Ann Arbor instead became an afterthought as the Wolverines branded themselves "America's team" en route to the College Football Playoff.

The Big Ten did nothing to punish Michigan ahead of the conference championship despite substantial pressure from several Big Ten head coaches and athletic directors impacted by the allegations of cheating. As such, a disgraced Stalions felt comfortable enough to bask publicly in the Wolverines' success while his former team continued to win.

The NCAA investigation into the Stalions saga remains ongoing. Meanwhile, the Committee of Infractions earlier this week levied punishment against Michigan for several coaching and recruiting infractions committed during Jim Harbaugh's tenure. How did a coach that flew the coop barely two weeks after finally winning a national title at his alma mater handle the news that he put his former program under three years of probation?

Over a decade ago, Harbaugh gave a quote to the Associated Press that may prove to haunt his own legacy pending the outcome of the Stalions inquisition. In speaking on the subject of performance enhancing drugs, Harbaugh told the media:

"You always want to be above reproach, especially when you’re good. Because you don’t want people to come back and say, ‘Oh, they’re winning because they’re cheating.’ That’s always going to be a knee-jerk reaction by people, in my experience, ever since I was a little kid."

“So we want to be above reproach in everything. … Because if you cheat to win, then you’ve already lost, according to Bo Schembechler. And Bo Schembechler is about as close to the word of God as you can get, in my mind. It’s not the word of God, but it’s close.” Jim Harbaugh, 2013

Bo Schembechler's legacy has already experienced a scathing amount of tarnishing alongside an equally disturbing level of cognitive dissonance from Michigan fans since those comments. Only time will tell if Harbaugh follows a similar pattern with respect to his time as head coach of the Wolverines.

Regardless of any additional forthcoming investigative outcomes or punishments, the recent rule changes phasing out the necessity for sideline signals have clearly solidified the legacy of Connor Stalions relative to Michigan's recent success. He changed the game — not through innovation or tactical brilliance, but through fraudulent and flagrant violation of the sport's code of conduct.

Denard Robinson Becomes Second Michigan Coach Arrested for DUI in 2024

As if the offseason for the Wolverine football program did not already feature enough controversy, Michigan now faces a potential second DUI-related dismissal from its coaching staff in as many months after the arrest of Denard Robinson this past week.

The former perennial September Heisman darling joined Michigan's staff as an assistant director of player personnel two years ago. His DUI comes barely a month after former Wolverines defensive line coach Greg Scruggs resigned following his own arrest for driving while intoxicated. Although Scruggs' violation did not result in any crash, police detained him with a blood alcohol level that proved to be double the state's legal limit.

Scruggs received an indefinite suspension before resigning his position six days later. Robinson has sustained an identical punishment from Michigan, but when asked about further action, head coach Sherrone Moore told the media last Monday, "we will continue to monitor the situation and will have no further comment at this time."

Deion Sanders and Sons Go Down in the DMs to Probe the Transfer Portal

Talent acquisition typically falls on the coaching staffs at most college football programs, although it would be naive to assume players across teams do not speak with each other when it comes to joining forces. This has never been more true than in the transfer portal era, but these matters may be getting a bit out of control concerning the Deion Sanders era at Colorado.

Earlier this week, the sons of the 2011 NFL Hall of Famer — Shilo and Shedeur, both members of the Buffaloes football team — made an open plea on Instagram for potential transfers on both sides of the ball to slide in their DMs.

The strategy seems curious for a few different reasons. For one, the claim that Colorado will not serve as "Last Chance U" for any incoming talent reads as laughable given the team finished with a 4-8 record in Prime Time's first season at the helm that included a six-game losing streak to conclude the 2023 campaign. It also did not help matters that the Buffaloes' athletic director publicly complained about losing players to the portal only a day after the Sanders kids made their appeal on social media to would-be defectors.

The "Louis luggage" Neon Deion promised to bring with him at the dawn of his time in Boulder remains to be seen.


Ohio State Adds Former No. 4 Overall CBB Recruit Aaron Bradshaw via Transfer Portal

Jake Diebler made a massive splash in the college basketball transfer portal earlier this week after former Kentucky big man Aaron Bradshaw agreed to join the Buckeyes following John Calipari's departure for Arkansas. Bradshaw previously entered college as the No. 1 overall center in the 2023 class. Unfortunately, his arrival seems to have resulted in the departure of Felix Okpara announced earlier today.

NFL Mock Draft Roundup for Buckeyes Ahead of Next Thursday Night

The week of the NFL Draft has finally arrived, and while all the eyes of OSU fans may remain fixed on where Marvin Harrison Jr. goes, Dan Hope has you covered relative to figuring out the potential selection for the rest of the eligible Buckeyes. Mike Hall Jr. currently seems poised to leave the board as the second Ohio State player drafted, but opportunity remains abound for the likes of Cade Stover, Tommy Eichenberg, and more.

Gene Smith Goes "All In" On Football Budget During Final Offseason as OSU Athletic Director

As Gene Smith prepares to retire in the next handful of months and fully hand the reigns over to Ross Bjork, the longtime Ohio State athletic director offers insight into his spending mindset at the outset of his career. Rather than taking his foot off the gas ahead of the forthcoming transition of power, Smith has deployed the full power of the football budget towards building the greatest potential for a winning program.

What’s Next

  • Baseball: vs. Wright State University, Tuesday, 3 p.m. ET
  • Men's & Women's Track: Penn Relays, Thursday-Saturday
  • Men's & Women's Tennis: Big Ten Tournament, Friday-Sunday
  • Men's Golf: Big Ten Championship, Friday-Sunday
  • Softball: vs. Illinois, Friday, 6 p.m. ET
  • Men's & Women's Lacrosse: Big Ten Tournament First Round & Quarterfinals, Saturday, Times TBA
  • 132 Days: Ohio State football's season opener vs. Akron
  • 223 Days: The Game
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