Pac-12 coaches: ASU sign stealing is part of the game

November 3, 2015

TEMPE, Ariz. -- A day after Washington State coach Mike Leach said the Pac-12 should investigate Arizona State for stealing opponents' offensive signals, Sun Devils coach Todd Graham said there was nothing wrong with what his team was doing -- and several of the conference's coaches agreed with him.

"Do we steal signals? Yeah, we do," Graham said Tuesday on the Pac-12 coaches' conference call. "Do people steal our signals? Yeah they do. Do you see our signs and all the things we do? It's our responsibility to make sure our signals are safe. There's nothing illegal about (stealing signs)."

The issue first came up after Arizona State's Oct. 17 game against Utah. Utes players and coaches said the Sun Devils were calling out plays, so the team switched its signals for the fourth quarter. Utah scored 20 points in the final quarter of the 34-18 victory.

Oregon took it a step further in last Thursday's game against the Sun Devils, using large white sheets attached to poles to block the offensive signals from Arizona State's sideline. The Ducks won 61-55 in triple overtime.


Leach, whose team plays Arizona State this week, suggested the Pac-12 should look into the sign stealing after two straight schools expressed concern about it.

"It's one thing to just pick up a cue, it's another thing to break it down as a science and film various things and carry it over from one year to the next and do some special analysis of it," he said.

NCAA rules prohibit teams from using video or audio to record another team's signals, but there is nothing that specifically says teams can't try to figure out the other team's signs.

"Absolutely, it is an accepted part of the game," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "The onus falls on the guys doing the signaling. It's not anyone else's job to look the other way. As long as it's not illegal, I am not sure however you can manage or control that. It's the job of the team doing signals to have signals complex enough that they can't be picked off."

Several other coaches in the conference agreed with Whittingham, saying it was up to them to prevent teams from figuring out their signals.