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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


If you can read my signs, then shame on me

A GRIP ON SPORTS • "Mr. Grippi. Could you please define 'tempest in a teapot' for us?” "Oh sure Mr. Hand, that’s simple: Sign-stealing in college football. Now can I have my pizza back please?" Read on.


• Utah and Arizona State are playing a tough, hard-fought football game in Salt Lake City. It’s tight late. Then the Utes begin to huddle. Boom. Utah wins, 34-18. The next time Arizona State takes the field, the are looking across the field at Oregon’s staff holding screens that could hold “Quizno’s” or “Papa John’s” advertisements. Instead they are all white and designed for one thing: hide the Ducks’ play calls from prying eyes. Afterward, Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost insinuates the Sun Devils use extra-ordinary means to steal offensive signs. Which brings up the biggest question of the week: so? Hey guys, ever play baseball? There’s a sport in which sign-stealing is an art. A third-base coach sits out there for the world to see. Everyone in the place stops and watches as he goes through gyrations that would make Steph Curry after a big 3-pointer look tame. And then the game continues. If the defensive team steals the signs and pitches out correctly, guess what the third base coach says? “My bad.” Yep, asking someone note to steal signs is like asking a cat not to chase mice. It’s going to happen. And if they are successful, then it’s on the team whose signs are stolen. OK, the NCAA has rules in place concerning videotaping and the like, so if those rules are broken, that’s bad. But if there are three grad assistants and four redshirts on the sidelines trying to decipher what the opposition’s picture-grams mean, that’s fair game. And probably should be commended. Heck, I can still remember the one time my less-than-attentive college baseball coach actually remembered my name and it came after a sign-stealing “incident.” I was the one stealing the signs. Yep, I deciphered a hit-and-run, we pitched out successfully twice and I received an at-a-boy. I’m pretty sure we still lost. And I know the sign theft was my only contribution – except, more than likely, warming up a handful of relievers – but it was nice to get a compliment. I’m sure the other team wouldn’t make the same mistake again. If they could have used white sheets, they would off. If they could have huddled, they would have. If there is any thought the other team is stealing your signals, change them. If it’s done within the parameters of the rules, it’s on you, not them.


• WSU: It doesn’t matter if USC is up or down. The Trojans are always a tough out at home in conference games. Jacob Thorpe examines that oddity in his weekly Pac-12 notebook. ... Jacob also has his conference power rankings. ... Jacob also has videos of interviews after practice with Mike Leach and assistant Roy Manning, a morning post and will hold a live chat this morning. ... Speaking of practice, Jacob has this piece on how teams get to the passer in lieu of a practice report. ... The WSU soccer team hopes to have a home NCAA tournament match again, though it may have to get past UW this week to earn it. Jim Allen has more in his weekly soccer notebook. ... Alivia Brown had a nice week on the links. ... Back to football, we can pass along a couple of notebooks, including Jon Wilner’s on the no-fumble-call at WSU and the conference’s explanation. Sorry, I have two eyes and the conference’s explanation does not wash. ... Where will everyone go bowling? No one really knows but they can guess.

• Gonzaga: College basketball practice is in full swing – heck, there were exhibitions games again last night – and over at GU the Zags are practicing ways to get their three big men on the court at the same time. Jim Meehan breaks down what Mark Few is up to in this story and blog post.

• EWU: Eastern Washington may be the fourth-ranked team in the FBS, but the Eagles are still waiting for their running game to emerge. Jim Allen has more in this story. ... Jim also has a morning post with links.

• Idaho: The Vandals spoke yesterday about the agonizing overtime defeat at New Mexico State. Sean Kramer has their comments in this blog post.

• Whitworth: The Pirates opened the season at Montana and were tied with the Griz at 50. But then Montana went on a 16-zip run and took an 83-64 exhibition win. ... A half-dozen Pirates were honored by their conference this week.

• Chiefs: Kamloops rallied from a four-goal deficit to defeat Spokane 5-4 in Kamloops. ... Tri-City is struggling a bit and lost 3-1 last night to Kelowna. ... The WHL schedule is always a bit odd. Five of Everett’s first 12 games were against Portland.

• Preps: The postseason is underway in Washington and our roundup today covers the action.

• Seahawks: The injury to Ricardo Lockette may have derailed the Hawks’ trade-deadline plans. Rumors abounded they were shopping a wide receiver for an offensive lineman but losing Lockette may have changed that scenario. They did not make a trade.

• Mariners: The M’s have a lot to do this offseason. A lot.

• Sounders: Despite having a decent season, the only Sounder nominated for an MLS award was UC Irvine alum Brad Evans (pictured). And it was for a humanitarian honor. Us Anteaters have always been known for our generosity of spirit. ... Zach Scott may be limping but he's not giving up. ... Sunday’s match probably will have a big effect on how Seattle addresses 2016. ... One of the decisions for next season should concern the head coach. ... Portland and Vancouver are all even heading into the match Sunday at Vancouver.


• I will be on the radio again today from 3 to 5 p.m., joining Keith Osso and Rick Lukens on 700 ESPN. The show will be on until 6 p.m., but I have to leave early. Such is the case for a busy retired guy. You can listen here if you like. And I am sorry of your didn't get my movie reference in the open. Until later ...

Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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