I agree with you 100% on this stealing signals stuff...pretty much word for word. However, I do want to ask (or point out) isn't this almost the same logic you used to rail against supporters of Johnny Manziel and the whole autograph scandal and his extra curricular activities this summer? You know, the "everyone is doing it" meme?
Well, yeah. That or everybody frickin’ does it.
In case you missed it over the weekend, current Alabama assistant director of player personnel Tyler Siskey was caught on camera using binoculars — apparently — to try and swipe Ole Miss’ signals as they were being relayed onto the field. Siskey, you see, is a former assistant coach under Mississippi’s Hugh Freeze.
A number of Rebel fans are now crying “Cheater!” and demanding an SEC inquiry. Those folks are way, way off base. (And I would say the same regardless of the teams involved… for all you who’ll claim I must be a big ol’ Bama fan.)
First, signals are stolen all the time. There’s a reason so many coaches bury their faces in playsheets when speaking. They’re not only worried about sign-stealing, they’re worried about lip-reading. Schools also have multiple people sending in signals with some doing so for dummy purposes.
Second, knowing that Siskey had switched sides, you can be sure that Freeze and crew changed their signals for Saturday’s game. And if they didn’t, that’s on them.
Third, I would bet you that Freeze and Ole Miss have at some point tried to steal a sign or two from some other team at some point. Again, if no one’s doing it, why do coaches hide their mouths behind those giant laminated call sheets?
And fourth, if the SEC were to investigate, it would become a much, much bigger issue. Think Spygate. Conspiracy theorists claim that the New England Patriots cheated their way to three Super Bowl victories. That’s because the NFL wanted to make sure Bill Belichick followed the edict they sent to every team: “No taping signals with video cameras.” But in sending that message, the NFL caused itself a much bigger headache. (Interestingly, the Belichick’s winning percentage post-Spygate is better than it was pre-Spygate.) No one ever stopped to think that while it’s illegal to steal signs with a camera, it’s legal — because technically it’s unstoppable — to have a guy with binoculars and a note pad gather the exact same information. The NFL made it a major issue. Then it became a game-tarnishing issue because no one knew what was being discussed and everyone wants to believe they’ve been cheated (see: Ole Miss fans today).
If the folks in the SEC league office are wise, they won’t go anywhere near this one. Any investigation would become an overblown issue in the age of social media and wall-to-wall ESPN coverage. Also, there’s no way for the SEC to keep an eye on everyone in a stadium who is using binoculars. (It’s a certainty that schools would start sending “plain clothes” sleuths into the stands to stare down the opposing sideline.)
The correct play here is to let the schools of the SEC handle sign-stealing by changing signals and covering mouths. It’s part of the game.
If you don’t grasp that, tell Santa and Ms. Clause I said hello.
UPDATE — If you don’t like my take, here’s another from an ex-college assistant. Warning: He sees things the way I do.