An alleged photo of Michigan staffer Connor Stalions (far right) on the Central Michigan sidelines on Sept. 1, 2023. An alleged photo of Michigan staffer Connor Stalions (far right) on the Central Michigan sidelines on Sept. 1, 2023. (Nicole Auerbach on Twitter.)

On Monday night, much of the college football internet exploded with further discussion around the sign-stealing allegations against the Michigan Wolverines. That conversation spiraled thanks to photos of a man who resembles Connor Stalions, the suspended Michigan staffer at the center of the alleged sign-stealing conspiracy, in Central Michigan gear and on the Chippewas’ sidelines during their Sept. 1 opener against the Michigan State Spartans (a future Wolverines’ opponent). And on Tuesday, ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg and Pete Thamel reported that CMU is now investigating just who this was and just what happened:

Here’s more on that from that piece:

Athletic director Amy Folan, in a statement to ESPN, said the school became aware of the photos late Monday. The man resembling Stalions is dressed in Central Michigan-issued gear and standing alongside several of the team’s coaches, while wearing a bench credential.

The credential reads “VB” and appears to be designated for the visiting bench area, which is different than a general sideline pass. It gives access to the designated area between the 20 yard lines, which is reserved for players, coaches, trainers and equipment staff. Schools are given a finite amount of passes for each game.

“We are in the process of determining the facts surrounding them,” Folan’s statement reads. “As this process is ongoing, we have no further comment at this time.”

Thamel and Rittenberg note that the man in question was holding what appeared to be a play sheet and was seen on the FS1 broadcast several times, but often seemed to be shielding his face. They also write that the Spartans are looking into this themselves, saying “sources at MSU told ESPN that the school is discussing potential next steps and is prepared to cooperate with the any formal investigation that arises from this.”

Michigan beat Michigan State 49-0 on Oct. 21, only days after reports around the alleged sign-stealing began to emerge. Several reports have emerged of Stalions buying tickets in other teams’ stadiums for games not involving the Wolverines (in-person scouting of opponents during the regular season has been prohibited by the NCAA since 1994), and those are concerning enough. But if this was in fact him on the CMU sidelines, that’s the first report of him on another team’s sidelines. And the idea of a staffer posing as someone from a different school on the sidelines to collect or share playcall information is certainly wild.

[ESPN; image from Nicole Auerbach on Twitter]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.