Paul Finebaum: Discipline for Jim Harbaugh, Michigan from Tony Petitti will be for ‘integrity of the Big Ten’

On3 imageby:Sam Gillenwater11/10/23


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Tony Petitti has his hands full at the moment with a massive mess in the midst of Michigan’s sign stealing scandal. Even so, Paul Finebaum has no doubt that he can be a capable leader in this moment who can do what many think must be done.

Finebaum once again spoke about Petitti’s position regarding a punishment for the Wolverines during ‘Get Up’ on Friday. He started by reminding everyone that Jim Harbaugh has already been in the sight’s of the Big Ten and NCAA earlier this season. That may make it easier to hand down a punishment now.

“Let’s not forget that Jim Harbaugh started this season with a three-game suspension. I think that factors into where Tony Petitti is right now,” recalled Finebaum.

Finebaum also noted Petitti’s background as a reason why he’ll be more than capable of sorting out all that is coming out within his own league.

“Let me say one thing about Tony Petitti – Desmond (Howard) mentioned the bullying going on. There’s a lot of bullying going on towards him because he’s not a quintessential college guy. But he’s a brilliant man,” Finebaum said. “He’s a Harvard law graduate, he worked in white shoe law in New York City. He was the chief operational officer for the MLB. So he’s well experienced.”

This isn’t about making an example of Harbaugh or Michigan according to Finebaum. In his eyes, this is a pivotal moment for the Big Ten, one that Petitti can’t let pass them unnoticed. With that on the horizon, it’s a circumstance where he can’t allow for cracks in the conference’s foundation.

“He also, I think, is somebody that thinks outside the box, which I think leads credence to what Heather (Dinich) said a minute ago in relation to why there is a prevailing wind out there that he will suspend Jim Harbaugh,” said Finebaum. “He’s not concerned about the way things used to be. He’s concerned about the integrity of the Big Ten Conference. It’s one of the big two in college football. It’s about to get a lot bigger with USC, UCLA, Oregon, and Washington with all the multiple television contracts.”

At this point, we’re all just waiting to see or hear what the decision of the commissioner will be. Don’t doubt Petitti according to Finebaum, though, as he is more than willing to take the heat if it means he makes the correct, necessary decision in the end.

“I think he is unaffected by all the noise that is going on. That’s why I think he has been cautious today. But I also think he will make this decision very quickly. Then the screaming will get louder,” said Finebaum.

Finebaum continues regarding a punishment for Michigan, the state of the Big Ten

Finebaum returned later on in the segment and added more of his thoughts in connection to the situation at Michigan.

In reference to the argument that many in Ann Arbor, including Harbaugh himself, were oblivious to the actions of Connor Stalions, Finebaum said that that point would likely only go so far. At the end of the day, the head coach is in charge. That means, in cases like this, it’ll likely fall on his shoulders in the eyes of the conference and association.

“It’s a prickly question and I think you have to look at it from the NCAA’s standpoint. Their rules are pretty simple – the head coach is responsible for the entire program. So, while it is a unique argument by Michigan fans and it may satisfy them? It’s not going to satisfy the NCAA. I really don’t think it’s going to satisfy Tony Petitti,” said Finebaum. “Otherwise, we would have already seen this case dealt with.”

Finebaum closed by further examining the spot that the Big Ten is in and what Petitti is currently having to navigate. With so many people and programs involved, he believes that Petitti can’t afford to get this wrong in any sense considering what’s coming up for the conference in the very near future.

“His big concern right now is his league coming apart at one of the most critical moments in college football history,” said Finebaum. “You don’t want a civil war within one of the gold standards and most respected leagues in all of sports – forget college sports. The Big Ten resonates everywhere in this country, especially in the places that matter most.”