Is Michigan’s victory over Washington in the CFP national title tarnished? Will the Wolverines eventually lose it, or what?
With both semifinal matchups now complete and the College Football Playoff national championship matchups determined, more questions are starting to emerge, like “If Michigan wins, should their title be vacated, or is it tainted?”
Because of the circumstances surrounding the Michigan football program this season and college football in general, which we all
Considering the range and severity of sanctions the NCAA has previously imposed on teams for violations—most notably, the vacating of wins and championships—cheating teams will undoubtedly face the harshest penalties in due course, right? If not that, most people will consider a Michigan national championship to be accompanied by a giant asterisk.
The NCAA wouldn’t take away Michigan football’s national championship.
To start, let’s all agree that the most ridiculous penalty in college football is having wins, championships, or other awards revoked, regardless of the offense. It defies logic that the NCAA thinks it can simply go into logbooks and hit backspace, nullifying a team’s season or seasons years after the fact. Whether they were fans, analysts, concession stand employees, or someone else involved with the team or season, they know exactly who won those games. To be honest, it seems completely absurd to try to remove it from the world.
But unlike the Wolverines’ own conference in the Big Ten, at least the NCAA has sufficient intelligence to carry out a comprehensive and protracted investigation when teams like Michigan have broken the rules. Midway through the season, with information continuing to flow in, Michigan, a conference rival team, all but forced Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti to impose a sort of penalty. As a result, head coach Jim Harbaugh was suspended for the Wolverines’ final three regular-season games.
Nevertheless, neither the Big Ten nor the NCAA will be able to stop the Wolverines from winning the CFP national championship game on Monday if they are raising that glistening gold and black trophy after defeating the Huskies. The CFP is not subject to NCAA regulation. It’s possible for the Committee on Infractions to rule years later that Michigan must forfeit wins, but they won’t be able to take away their national championship. “Only the CFP can accomplish that,” The Athletic’s Steward Mandel said.
The Michigan football team could have chosen to be excluded by the selection committee long before they advanced to play Alabama in the Rose Bowl on Monday. If they really thought Michigan posed a threat to competitive fairness, they probably would have excluded them from the top 4.This season, we’ve already seen the kind of power they can wield by eliminating a Power-5, undefeated conference champion like Florida State from the top 4.
Recall that sanctions against running back Reggie Bush cost USC its 2004 national championship, but that was before the BCS era. Furthermore, keep in mind that this was after the fact, and the CFP committee was well aware of the facts and details of Michigan’s sign-stealing scandal in advance—as much as they had been provided. Thus, the Wolverines will most likely hang a lifetime banner at the Big House that reads “2023 National Champions,” asterisk excluded, if Michigan defeats Washington.