McCarthy: U-M players ‘did things the proper way’
Heather Dinich, ESPN Senior WriterJan 3, 2024, 01:38 PM ET
- College football reporter
- Signed up with ESPN.com in 2007
- Graduate of Indiana University
As No. 1 Michigan prepares to face No. 2 Washington on Monday in the College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T, Wolverines players pushed back on claims of their involvement in the extremely publicized sign-stealing scandal, stating any possible NCAA penalties, including vacating wins, would not detract from their accomplishments this season.
“We did things the right way as players,” Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy said during a teleconference Wednesday. “It would be extremely unfortunate [to] not get acknowledged for all the effort that we put in and whatever we achieved over this last year.
“But at the end of the day, you understand it’s not going to change the quantity of achievement and the amount of pride for being on this football team and just everything that we accomplished due to the fact that we understand what we put in. We understand the work that we put in, and we understand that we did things the proper way as players. Whatever occurred, with all the outside controversies, it’s out of our control, and whatever the NCAA wishes to do runs out our control, but we’re going to appreciate the important things we did control and achieve.”
Michigan will take the sport’s greatest phase Monday with 2 different NCAA examinations still looming– one into the sign-stealing scandal that presumably covered several seasons, and another into alleged recruiting offenses during the COVID-19 season. It’s possible the program will face NCAA sanctions that might include abandoning wins.While a bulk
of college football groups, if not all, try to take signs throughout games from opposing sidelines and from game film they study, the NCAA restricts off-campus indication stealing. The Big Ten this season suspended coach Jim Harbaugh for the last 3 games of the regular season for an off-campus sign-stealing operation led by previous team member Connor Stalions, who resigned Nov. 3.
Harbaugh, who likewise served a university-imposed three-game suspension at the beginning of the season for the alleged recruiting infractions, stated any talk of NCAA sanctions at this point is purely “residing in the world of rumorville or speculation.”
“We don’t have any space to be doing that at this point,” Harbaugh stated. “Our time’s invested somewhere else.”
Michigan sophomore protective lineman Mason Graham stated he felt the majority of the accusations of cheating were aimed versus the defense, however said their only edge is watching film to study propensities.
“I seem like we simply have a high football IQ here at Michigan,” Graham stated. “And you know, we discuss particular situations several times a week, simply sort of just learning more about the game every day, every meeting, simply kind of simply constructing the IQ and being smarter football players all around so we detect things quicker. Even if it’s in-game adjustments things, I think little things like that film study actually assisted us this year.”
McCarthy on Wednesday also alleged rival Ohio State was legally stealing their check in 2019 or 2020 and the Wolverines “had to adapt.”
“They were doing it the legal way,” McCarthy stated of the Buckeyes. “We needed to get up to the level they were at and make it an even playing field. It sucks due to the fact that we do work our butts off. We do watch so much movie and search for the little propensities and spend like 10, 15 minutes on one clip alone just taking a look at all the little information of the posture of the linebackers or the D-end … little things like that where it resembles, OK, you can say it’s all indication stealing, but you know, there’s a lot more that goes into play … a great deal of work that gets masked just because of the outside understanding of what indication stealing is everything about.”
Graham stated it was all part of the difficulty the group conquered this season, which’s not something the NCAA can eliminate.
“We have actually sort of been working all the method up until this minute,” Graham said. “Things happen along the way that do not form. We have actually gotten rid of a lot of hardship this season. I felt like it’s brought us closer together.”