Neither Jim Harbaugh nor Michigan will be punished, and that's the sad truth

If you're waiting to see if Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines have their wins vacated and title stripped, you're probably just fooling yourself.

Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh smiles during a press
Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh smiles during a press / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Harbaugh finally gave Michigan fans what they've been clamoring for since 1997 and what the university paid him a wad of cash to deliver - a football national championship. For many, this is a tainted title, but don't expect that to matter to the NCAA or College Football Playoff Committee.

Michigan is at the apex of an investigation that began in the middle of the 2023 season that centers on the illegal taping of opponents' practices and potential sign-stealing. Some recruiting violations were uncovered (and subsequently lied about) earlier in the year.

Many will point to the two suspensions Harbaugh served in 2023 -- three games to start the season and three games to finish the year -- as an indicator they shouldn't even have been allowed to participate in the College Football Playoff.

While that may seem like a reasonable assumption, the fact that Michigan was allowed to play in both the semifinal and championship games shows that the Big Ten and NCAA were more interested in keeping the investigation rolling until long after the season was completed.

Even if proven, Jim Harbaugh and Michigan are unlikely to face disciplinary action for alleged scandal

With the confetti all cleaned up and the championship trophy in the hands of the Michigan Wolverines, many fans wonder if a postseason penalty that would possibly include vacating wins and a championship will be handed down by the NCAA.

Don't hold your breath, anti-Michigan crowd.

There are dozens of reasons that Michigan and Jim Harbaugh should be forced to vacate wins from the 2023 season (and possibly even prior seasons) and have their name stricken from the record as national champions, but there's only one reason that won't happen...


As it seems to happen with everything in modern college sports, just follow the money. Not just the money the Big Ten and NCAA made from Michigan's championship run, and not just the NIL dollars that flowed to players wearing maize and blue, but also the money that didn't change hands in this alleged sign-stealing, videotaping scandal.

You can bet the farm that if this had been a situation where someone besides the conference or the NCAA was profiting, and large sums of money were somehow linked to the wrongdoings, Michigan would have been sitting home watching the College Football Playoff instead of winning it.

Want to do something that gives your team an edge over the competition? Shame on you, now put your hand out here while we call the nuns with wooden rulers.

But do something that may not even give your team an edge but involves the almighty dollar and you're in for the NCAA's version of a body cavity search. Prior to the NIL era, the NCAA regularly suspended players for profiting from their own image and fame (just ask Todd Gurley) but was more than happy to cash the checks resulting from the money those same players generated.

When money, big money, is involved, the NCAA has night vision, thermal imaging, and acoustic microscopes to find what they want.

The Jim Harbaugh - Pete Carroll parallel

Jim Harbaugh is leaving Michigan to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers. While his departure to the NFL had been rumored for a couple of years, this time Jim wasn't sneaky about it. He hired an NFL agent and openly went on interviews.

This bears a striking resemblance to how Pete Carroll left USC. After unparalleled success at USC, Carroll and his Trojans came under scrutiny by the NCAA for potential rules violations, and in 2010, before the sanctions could be announced, Carroll was on his way to the NFL and Seattle Seahawks.

Follow Pete's example and run, Jim, run? No, Harbaugh will be fine.

Of course, Ohio State fans and Harbaugh-haters worldwide are decrying the move, saying that Harbaugh -- like Carroll -- is simply running away from the potential punishments. His insistence to Michgican that he be given a clause that was essentially a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card didn't do much to quiet that narrative.

The truth is, even if Harbaugh is escaping the mighty sword of the NCAA coming down upon his program, he's won his national title and nothing will change that. There may possibly be future sanctions against Michigan in the way of lost scholarships or even (though highly unlikely) a postseason ban, but Jim Harbaugh's Dr. Pepper National Championship Trophy is safe and secure in Ann Arbor.

The former Michigan head coach is now off to pursue -- once again -- his dream of winning a Super Bowl and becoming part of an exclusive group of coaches who have attained the feat of winning both and NFL and college football title.

What happens to Michigan ... if anything ... isn't his problem anymore.

And Michigan? While they may take a step back under a new coaching regime, any struggles they have won't be because of punishments levied by the NCAA. Check under the big rug in Indianapolis if you want to see those findings.

Next. Whatever happened to these 30 forgotten college football superstars?. Whatever happened to these 30 forgotten college football superstars?. dark