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Michigan Wolverines demolish the Washington Huskies in national college football championship

Jimmy Myers
Michigan Wolverines demolish the Washington Huskies in national college football championship
Mike Sainristil interviewed after Michigan’s game against Rutgers. PHOTOS: COURTESY OF MAIZE AND BLUE NATION

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The words “tainted” will be forever attached to the 2023-24 Michigan Wolverines following their 34-13 demolition of the University Washington Huskies in the College Football Playoff Championship game.

The proud tradition of University of Michigan football took a significant hit during the team’s run to the 12th national title in school history, the first outright such title since 1948.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh was suspended — not once, but twice — during this past regular season for violating NCAA Rules, the most serious being stealing opponent signals. Two of his assistants, staffer Connor Stalions and linebacker coach Chris Partridge, left the program. The former was caught on videotape stealing opponents’ signals during the season, and the latter was fired for discussing the ongoing NCAA investigation.

You must recognize these compelling revelations when you assess Michigan’s march to this national championship. As more details reveal themselves from this scandal, the NCAA, the governing body of college sports, must consider the most severe penalty — the “vacating” of the national championship. It could be sad for the young players on this Michigan football team. They played their guts out, only to see their work besmirched.

Mike Sainristil setting up a block against the University of Indiana. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MICHIGAN PHOTOGRAPHY

One of those players is Mike Sainristil, who starred at Everett High School. Sainristil, born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 2000, came to the United States at seven months old. His father, Carlot, was the newsroom director at a radio station, and received threats after the 2000 Haitian presidential election. Sainristril played offense and defense at Everett High under longtime coach John DiBiaso. He helped lead the Everett football team to back-to-back Super Bowl titles in 2016 and 2017, scoring key touchdowns (on offense and defense) in both Super Bowl wins. He was Massachusetts’ Gatorade Player of the Year during the 2018-19 academic year.

“Mike had a sterling high school career at Everett,” says DiBiaso, who mentored hundreds of players during his 39-year tenure at Everett High.

“I remember telling my coaches that we should try Mike out at defensive back,” he said. “We rarely played anybody on both offense and defense, but I saw something special in ‘Mikey.’ All he did was return three interceptions for touchdowns in his first three games as a defensive back. He was off and running from there.”

Spinning the clock forward, Sainristil’s interception and 81-yard return sealed the lopsided Michigan victory over Washington in this year’s national championship game.

Another team member is Josaiah Stewart, born in the Bronx, New York, a defensive end who played at Everett High with Sainristil. He was rated a three-star prospect out of Everett High and got to Michigan following a transfer from Coastal Carolina.

Stories like these make you feel compassion for the young men who made up the roster for this Michigan team. They claim they  “banded as brothers” to achieve their ultimate national championship goal. They completed their mission on the field of play. It will be sad if their glory is snatched from them due to the underhanded behavior of head coach Harbaugh and members of his staff.

Harbaugh has repeatedly stated that he is innocent of signal stealing, but the evidence is mounting against that claim. All signs point to his exit from Michigan and a return to the National Football League. If he takes that road, the mess he leaves behind will likely fall on the shoulders of the next head football coach at the University of Michigan. Such is the way of life in the world of college sports today. One man, in this case, Jim Harbaugh, leaves a mess for his successor to try to clean up. His critics, many being coaches in the Big Ten Conference, will not be singing his praises anytime soon. Whether he takes millions in NFL money or millions to stay at Michigan — highly unlikely — his name and reputation will be permanently damaged.  

So, while the fans and alumni of Michigan football pound their collective chests while singing the team fight song, “Hail to the Victors,” there will be far too many cries of “Hail to the Tainted Victors.” 

College Football Playoff Championship, Michigan Wolverines, Sports, Washington Huskies