Paul Finebaum: Tony Petitti looks to avoid Big Ten ‘civil war,’ will not be ‘bullied’ by Michigan legislators

On3 imageby:Sam Gillenwater11/09/23


Dan Wetzel from Yahoo! Sports on Michigan Sign Stealing, Full Interview with Andy Staples | 11.08.23

It’s Michigan vs. everybody at the moment in the Big Ten with the sign-stealing scandal taking everyone’s attention. Now, with everyone pointing fingers at one another and at the Wolverines, Paul Finebaum does not envy the position of Tony Petitti, the commissioner of the conference.

Finebaum spoke about Petitti’s perspective during an appearance on ‘Get Up’ on Thursday. He felt like it’s an unheard of spot that Petitti is in as he’s actively having to disarm each of his schools before this matter gets much worse for anyone.

“I’m thinking that Tony Petitti, the commissioner, and he’s only been on the job for a short period of time, is in one of the most unique and perilous positions I’ve ever seen a college administrator in,” said Finebaum. “He literally is trying to avoid a civil war within his own league.”

Still, while he hasn’t even been on the job a year yet, Finebaum doesn’t expect weakness from Petitti. That’s because he has a prominent league to run and because he knows that any decision he makes could lead to examples for the future in the Big Ten.

“He’s not, also, going to be bullied. It’s one thing to threaten lawsuits but when you get involved with 10 or 11 state legislators? I don’t think Tony Petitti gives two rips about some hack legislator in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He’s going to make a decision based on what he thinks is in the best interest,” said Finebaum. “I think, if he caves in, he sets a precedent – ‘Go ahead and do whatever you want! I’m not going to do anything and we all know the NCAA is not.'”

To Finebaum, this leads him to believe this will, somehow and someway, end in a suspension of Jim Harbaugh for some duration of time, regardless of the season that the Wolverines are currently in the midst of.

“I still believe he is going to make a statement and I think that statement is coming soon,” said Finebaum. “I think most people believe that he is going to look at Michigan and say, ‘You should have known’, even if the evidence doesn’t directly link Jim Harbaugh. Therefore, we are going to ask for a suspension of one games, two games, whatever.”

Finebaum also wanted to disarm those in Ann Arbor with a bit of perspective on the matter. In his eyes, Petitti wouldn’t be destroying Michigan’s hopes of winning any titles with this decision. It’s just that, in a complete mess of a situation, he can’t afford to shrug his shoulders or suggest that the Wolverine’s are above the rest when it comes to the rulebook.

“Let’s not get all hung up on what the commissioner is doing. If he suspends Harbaugh? He is simply saying, ‘I am keeping you out of the game’ as this continues. He’s not sanctioning him for life, he’s not taking Michigan out of a championship run. I think you have to look at that distinction there,” explained Finebaum. “This is a man who has to go by his policy. But he also has to show leadership, run this league. He can’t be concerned that Michigan is responding with, ‘Hey, well, we may have done it but so did they‘. I mean I think we got over that in grade school.”