Sun Devils face Cougars amid costly accusations
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Washington State coach Mike Leach told the Pac-12 to look at whether Arizona State stole signs last season, joining a chorus of teams accusing the Sun Devils.
Leach has taken it too far this season, according to the Pac-12.
The conference fined Leach $10,000 and officially reprimanded him on Thursday, adding a layer of intrigue before the Cougars travel to the desert to face the Sun Devils.
"Conference rules prohibit Pac-12 member institutions from disparaging each other and discrediting other institutions," Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in statement. "Information or accusations relative to rule violations must be handled by institutions filing those concerns with the Conference office through a formal process, and institutions must refrain from discussing those concerns publicly."
Leach is not the only person to accuse the Sun Devils of stealing signs.
Utah's players said Arizona State stole signs during a game last year and both Oregon and Washington took the extra step of putting up sheets to block the Sun Devils' view from the other sideline.
The Sun Devils maintain they have done nothing wrong. Pac-12 rules do not prohibit sign stealing unless audio and video equipment were used to decipher the signs.
"Make this perfectly clear: We do everything exactly by the rules. Period," Arizona State coach Todd Graham said. "Obviously, we take a great deal of pride in the integrity that our program has. I'll just leave it at that. I'm not going to get involved in things like that that are ridiculous. We're very open and honest about how we do things."
A few more things to watch for when the Sun Devils host the Cougars:
OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS: Washington State had a dismal start to the season, losing to FCS Eastern Washington at home and Boise State on the road. The Cougars (4-2, 3-0 Pac-12) have righted themselves since then, winning four straight to join No. 5 Washington atop the Pac-12 North. Arizona State started the season strong and has faded now that conference play has started. After opening with four straight wins, the Sun Devils (5-2, 2-2) have lost two of three to fall a game behind No. 19 Utah and Colorado in the South Division.
WILKINS' HEALTH: Arizona State quarterback Manny Wilkins insisted he was 100 percent healthy after last week's loss to Colorado despite clearly having limited mobility. Wilkins did not play the week before against UCLA after suffering a right ankle sprain against USC and Graham acknowledged the sophomore was limited against the Buffaloes. Wilkins practiced this week and his mobility could play a huge part in Arizona State's chances Saturday night; the Sun Devils' run game suffers when he is not able to tuck and run.
FALK'S SEASON: Washington State quarterback Luke Falk led the nation in passing yards per game last season and was second in completion percentage. He's back among the national leaders as a junior. Falk enters Saturday's game second nationally with a completion rate of 71.5 percent and is fifth with 352 yards passing per game. Arizona State is last among the 128 FBS teams, giving up 384.4 yards per game, so Falk could have another big night.
THE SERIES: Arizona State has won 10 of the past 12 games against Washington State, though the Cougars won last year's game 38-24 in Pullman after a fourth quarter comeback. Washington State has not won in Tempe since 2001 and has not won consecutive games in the series since 2002-04. ASU leads the all-time series 26-14-2.