Alabama Football: Per the sports technology company 'Catapult' NCCA investigating iPad leaks?

With iPad Gate evolving rapidly here's a deep dive into a possible Michigan connection

2023 Big Ten Championship - Iowa v Michigan
2023 Big Ten Championship - Iowa v Michigan / Justin Casterline/GettyImages
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Just five days before the Rose Bowl Isaiah Bond spoke on something that likely wasn't meant to leave the Alabama Football program. Bond spoke on the Alabama Football players no longer being able to watch film on their tablets due to a potential breach in Catapult systems which teams across the country use to house practice film, game film, and data from trackers players wear. Bond said the following during his media availability:

"The app where we record film off of practice and stuff like that, and they were I guess like looking at other peoples play calls, their hand signals the first eight games or something like that."

Isaiah Bond

The story took another turn as Roman Wilson a Wolverines wide receiver said the Wolverines weren't using their tablets anymore either.

"Its just a precaution thing. Coach Harbaugh turned our iPads off too. Its just a feeling. Coach is trying to protect our players and things like that. When you first see it, you kind of laugh a bit. Its outrageous that things like that are going on. But you cant really blame them with the things going on in college football these days."

Roman Wilson

Where did all this alleged hacking start? How did teams find out they had a hack or leak into their catapult systems? Here's what we know.

The story starts in January of 2023, Michigan Wolverines co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Matt Weiss is placed on administrative leave as the University Police started an investigation into computer access crimes. On January 20th, Weiss was officially fired less than a week into the investigation on after refusing to attend a meeting about the alleged crime. The FBI joined in on the investigation during October as the Connor Stallions situation became public.

A Michigan Police Department spokesperson told ESPN's Dan Murphy that the Weiss investigation is unrelated to the NCAA's probe of off-campus scouting and signal stealing involving the program.

A source told the Detroit Free Press who broke the story of the FBI's involvement the following:

"Currently, the investigation is extensive, ongoing, and is one of the utmost priority."

Detroit Free Press

Tony Garcia of the Detroit Free Press was also been told the following:

So where does the Catapult system come into play with Matt Weiss of Michigan Football? A 2021 article written by The Detroit News titled "UM teams taking smarter approach through the study of analytics" talked about Michigan's new dive into catapult.

A professor and Dean of Michigan's School of Information Thomas Finholt details an accidental conversation with someone inside the athletic department called Catapult. Finholt and students would go on to form MSAS or Michigan Sports Analytics Society working hand in hand with Michigan's athletic programs.

On a Podcast "In the Trenches" hosted by former Wolverine player Jon Jansen Coach Weiss said the following about his new role in analytics.

"I definitely wouldn't say I specialize in analytics. I love good ideas. I love the culture of teaching and learning. That's something for sure we're looking to bring here and do more of here."

Matt Weiss

Weiss came to Michigan from the Baltimore Ravens where John Harbaugh coaches. He also started as a graduate assistant at Stanford in 2005 where he's been on a Harbaugh's coaching staff ever since. Weiss joined Jim again at Michigan following 2020 where Jim Harbaugh went 2-4 and had many Michigan fans and boosters calling for him to be fired. The Wolverines suddenly flipped and turned into a powerhouse beating Ohio State for the first time in the Jim Harbaugh era after he started 0-5 and canceled the 2020 game due to a Covid-19 outbreak. Connor Stallions became an official Michigan staffer in 2022 however he was working with the program for a few years before he was hired.

The timeline of events becomes further interesting when you account for the recent hiring of former Michigan Assistant George Helow. The former Wolverines coach has been a special assistant to Alabama Football coach Nick Saban in his short stint for the Alabama Football program. Could Helow have tipped his former boss Nick Saban off about a potential security breach?

That would align with why there's been a sudden shift in Alabama Football no longer using the service and Isaiah Bond said that the Wolverines were stealing signals for the first eight or so games through the system. The timeline of when Bond points to Michigan using it for the team's signals would align perfectly with when Connor Stallions' cheating scandal broke. Did Michigan learn via the investigation or from its former assistant that Catapult had major security issues?

The timeline makes sense that Weiss possibly had a hand in the hacking of Catapult. Over the past year, Michigan fired a co-offensive coordinator after a season in which they made the playoffs, Harbaugh took a self-imposed suspension over a recruiting violation, the FBI joined into the investigation, Connor Stallions was fired, and then Alabama Football players say that they can't use Catapult due to Michigan potentially stealing signals via hacking.

Catapult the company in question released the following statement today:

"We are aware of the ongoing investigation of the alleged unauthorized access to NCAA football video footage. We have conducted an internal investigation and have not found any security breach in our systems. We have shared this with local authorities that are conducting an investigation. We will continue to support the ongoing investigation with the NCAA and local authorities. At Catapult, we hold ourselves to the highest of standards and safeguarding customer information is of utmost importance to us."

Catapult

Alabama Football: What have we come to

This story should span much further than the Alabama Football team and the Rose Bowl. There's an ongoing FBI Investigation due to a cybercrime and an investigation into Connor Stallions and the illegal filming of signals. Hacking into a catapult doesn't just give you game film but, it holds personal information about a player's routine, a player's body and recovery, and more that an outsider has no business hacking into. Within a week of an investigation, you wouldn't fire an offensive coordinator who helped lead you into the playoff if his actions weren't a serious issue. Mind you if true we now have coaches developing criminal schemes over College Football. The fact that there's even an investigation involving that's cross state lines and has multiple victims according to the FBI over a Football game is one of the saddest developments in the sport.