Stephen A. Smith on First Take Photo credit: ESPN

Stephen A. Smith has been one of Michigan’s harshest critics in recent days. And a few tears aren’t going to change that.

The Wolverines were forced to play their first game without Jim Harbaugh on the sideline over the weekend, as the head coach began serving a suspension amid the program’s sign-stealing scandal. While the NCAA’s investigation into Michigan’s alleged sign-stealing is ongoing, the Big Ten saw enough to suspend Harbaugh from being on the sideline for the team’s final three regular season games.

Offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore assumed Harbaugh’s gameday responsibilities. After Michigan’s 24-15 win over Penn State, the acting head coach was overcome with emotion. But on Monday morning, ESPN’s First Take reacted to Moore’s tearful and passionate postgame interview, with Stephen A. Smith scoffing at the performance.

“That is ridiculous,” Smith said with disgust as Molly Qerim called it a touching moment. “Oh no, it wasn’t. It’s ridiculous.”

“Here is my issue with what we saw, they’re acting like victims. How are you a victim?” Smith asked. “You’re acting like a victim! Who has victimized you?! Jim Harbaugh, you have people like myself and others…we don’t know definitively, but according to the Big Ten, there’s a level of culpability and guilt that belongs to the Michigan program.”

And according to Smith, that culpability should keep Michigan from participating in this season’s College Football Playoff, despite Moore’s passion and loyalty to Harbaugh.

“If you are found to be guilty of what they say you are, that you had an assistant that infiltrated other sidelines, that was stealing signs, feeding them to the coaching staff and the coaching staff fed it to the players on the field to give them an unfair advantage, if those things happened, you cannot be a part of this year’s College Football Playoff,” Smith maintained.

That’s a little bit of a backtrack from Smith. Last week, he scoffed at any presumption of innocence and definitively stated Michigan needs to be barred from the College Football Playoff so long as they’re still under investigation by the NCAA. Smith maintained a strong stance against Michigan Monday morning on First Take, but added “if you are found to be guilty” as a caveat.

And for anyone who defends Michigan’s potential College Football Playoff bid by saying, “what about the kids?” Smith, who unabashedly loves kids, won’t be swayed from his believe that they should feel the effects of Michigan deserving to be banned.

“Last time I checked, there’s kids at Alabama,” Smith noted. “There’s kids at Florida State. Washington. Oregon. Texas. What about those kids? What if you are a member of one of those programs, who have not been accused of such things…and you are the number five team in the country. But Michigan gets a spot ahead of you?”

Michigan has games against Maryland and Ohio State left on their schedule to prove they still deserve a spot in the College Football Playoff. And they look set to play those without Harbaugh serving as their gameday head coach.

[First Take]

About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to