C.J. Stroud addresses Michigan sign stealing, says OSU had 'an idea' of wrongdoing

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 15: C.J. Stroud #7 of the Houston Texans takes the field before kickoff against the New Orleans Saints at NRG Stadium on October 15, 2023 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud is ready to focus on the present. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

When Houston Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud was asked about Michigan's sign-stealing scandal during a news conference Thursday, he almost opted not to address it. Eventually, he said his college team had an idea something wasn't right.

Suspended Michigan football analyst Connor Stalions is currently at the center of an NCAA investigation into whether he illegally stole other teams' signals.

Evidence has surfaced that Stalions purchased tickets to games involving several of Michigan's Big Ten opponents, including Ohio State. He's accused of in-person scouting of those teams' signals, which would violate NCAA rules.

"It's my past life," Stroud, the former Ohio State quarterback responded as he started to say that he had nothing to say about the wrongdoing.

After saying he's not the type of person to reflect on past situations and assess blame on others, Stroud gave a brief answer in reference to his Ohio State team's 45-23 loss to Michigan in November.

"They beat us. It is what it is. I'm not super happy with that. But man, I'm in the NFL now. I'm not worried [about] what happened in college," he said. "We had an idea on maybe if that stuff was going on. But at the end of the day, it is what it is. I'm not here to go back and forth with that. I'm a Texan now."

Stroud's statement about the team's inkling of misconduct aligns with a report from Yahoo Sports college football reporter Ross Dellenger that said Big Ten opponents were aware of an "elaborate scheme" surrounding Stalions.

"We heard they had a guy pick plays pretty good and had all this information from not your typical ways of getting the signals,” a Buckeyes staff member told Dellenger last week. “We get into the game and it’s the second quarter. I see him across the field and he’s checking his 11x17 sheet.”

Former Michigan DE Aidan Hutchinson addresses allegations

On the other side of the Big Ten's premier rivalry, Detroit Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson addressed the allegations later Thursday.

Hutchinson, who played for Michigan from 2018 to 2021, criticized the timing of the investigation and minimized its long-term importance:

“They’re doing all their investigations and they’re coming at Michigan when Michigan’s got a shot to win the national championship this year. So I don’t know. It is what it is, I guess. Time will pass and people will forget about it and move on once we’re the champs again.

Hutchinson went on to say he and the other Michigan players didn't have a relationship with Stalions.

As the weeks continue, more circumstantial evidence of Michigan's alleged sign stealing emerges, including Dellenger's report that Stalions purchased tickets to games featuring potential College Football Playoff opponents last season.

In the wake of continued findings, some sports figures question whether the scandal really made much of a difference.

Michigan beat Ohio State in each of the last two seasons but they came up short in the playoff, taking a 51-45 loss to TCU in the semifinals. The Buckeyes' playoff journey ended in a 42-41 playoff loss to Georgia in the other semifinal.

Stroud, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2023 NFL Draft, isn't sparing too many thoughts about Michigan. He has the future to focus on, which includes a matchup with the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

Of course, even that event will have some reminders of the past, as Panthers quarterback Bryce Young was Stroud's childhood friend and the No. 1 overall pick of the draft.