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#pounditFriday, July 19, 2024

JJ McCarthy blames Ohio State for Michigan’s sign-stealing

Michigan quarterback JJ McCarthy rolls out of the pocket

Dec 4, 2021; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) against the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Conference championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan players are still being asked about the team’s sign-stealing allegations in the lead-up to Monday’s national championship, which prompted quarterback JJ McCarthy to make an unusual excuse for the activity.

McCarthy estimated that 80 percent of college football teams are engaged in some sort of sign stealing, and he included rivals Ohio State in that group. In fact, McCarthy claimed that Michigan had to adapt because Ohio State was legally stealing their signs several years ago.

“We actually had to adapt because in 2020 or 2019, when Ohio State was stealing our signs — which is legal — and they were doing it, we had to get up to the level they were at,” McCarthy said, via Austin Meek of The Athletic. “We had to make it an even playing field.”

McCarthy is correct that sign-stealing itself is entirely legal, and he seems to be trying to suggest that whatever Michigan did was a proportional response to whatever Ohio State may have been doing. That is not entirely true; it would be a non-story if Michigan were legally stealing signs, but the allegations against the Wolverines include violations of NCAA rules.

McCarthy and other Michigan players justifiably want to ensure that their accomplishments are not tarnished by these allegations. The reality is critics will always point to them, but a national title would help to drown out the noise much more than these statements will.

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