With Michigan scandal, Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti faces toughest decision yet
All eyes will be on the Big Ten's new boss as he goes about handling a flagship program that has infuriated schools across the conference
Big Ten athletic directors are scheduled to have their regular bi-weekly call on Thursday. It should be a doozy.
The call will be the ADs’ first get-together since news broke of the NCAA’s investigation into Michigan’s alleged illegal sign-stealing operation. Surely, the situation will be awkward for Michigan AD Warde Manuel. Rarely can you build a consensus in this league on anything, but the other 13 Big Ten schools are in damn-near unanimity that the Wolverines should pay for their alleged crimes, and that they should pay now.
Big Ten schools have been cooperating with each other, both via phone calls between coaching staffs ahead of games against Michigan, and now via ticket-sharing data between administrators as programs look to see how badly they were potentially compromised.
That puts the ball squarely in the court of Tony Petitti, the new Big Ten commissioner. He will have a decision to make, and he will have to make it soon.
Michigan is 8-0. The Wolverines are the betting favorite to win the national title. They are the winningest program in the history of college football, with a coach in Jim Harbaugh whose personal fame is rivaled in the coaching ranks by only Deion Sanders.
They are a ratings bonanza. Their two biggest conference games, in all likelihood, have yet to be played: at Penn State on Nov. 11, vs. Ohio State on Nov. 25.
Michigan is at the center of an NCAA investigation, which the NCAA informed the Big Ten of last Wednesday, and which the Big Ten then informed Michigan’s next opponent, Michigan State, of on the same day. The news broke in the media last Thursday.
Rarely do these things play out so publicly.
Rarely have so many been so willing to cooperate.
It’s why the pressure will be on Petitti to make a decision regarding Michigan, because the Wolverines right now appear to be a football train that cannot be stopped on the field, and coaches and administrators around the league are furious at how that may have come to be.