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Sun Devils stealing signals? Leach suggests an investigation

WSU head coach Mike Leach, chatting with the ref in last Saturday’s game against Stanford, suggested that the Arizona State football program be investigated for stealing offensive signals during the game. The Cougars play host to Arizona State on Saturday. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
WSU head coach Mike Leach, chatting with the ref in last Saturday’s game against Stanford, suggested that the Arizona State football program be investigated for stealing offensive signals during the game. The Cougars play host to Arizona State on Saturday. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

PULLMAN – The last two opponents to face Arizona State claim the Sun Devils gained an advantage by stealing and interpreting the signals that are relayed from the sideline during the game, and Washington State coach Mike Leach has no intention of being the third.

The NCAA rulebook prohibits “any attempt to record, either through audio or video means, any signals given by an opposing player, coach or other team personnel.”

Coaches at Utah and Oregon have accused the Sun Devils of doing just that, and Leach believes college football’s presiding bodies should look into the matter.

“They probably ought to do an investigation on them,” Leach said. “I mean, you’ve got two straight schools with concerns over it, back-to-back and they have a reputation for it that extends beyond that. The conference probably ought to investigate them and see what they’re doing, make sure nothing is illegal.”

Technically, it is only against the rules to record with the intention of learning another team’s steals, not to steal the signals outright. So, such an investigation would likely hinge on the existence of video tapes showing other teams sending in signals.

There is circumstantial evidence the teams can point to that suggest foul – or shady, at least – behavior by the Sun Devils.

ASU led Utah until the beginning of the fourth quarter, when the Utes began to huddle every play on offense, eliminating the need for sideline signals. The Utes outscored the Sun Devils 20-to-nothing after making the change and won handily.

In order to prevent a similar situation, the Ducks had staffers hold up five large white sheets along the sidelines to shield the signal-givers from prying eyes in UO’s triple-overtime win last weekend.

After the game, UO offensive coordinator Scott Frost told reporters, “From the intel we got, I’ve never heard of a team going to the lengths they go to, to try to get signals.”

Specifically, Frost believed the Sun Devils were aware whether the impending play was going to be a run or a pass. He did say, “there’s no rule against it,” implying he believed ASU was merely trying to decode the signals during the game, rather than by recording previous Ducks games.

Because the Cougars frequently send in two plays, a pass and a run, it might be more difficult for the Sun Devils to gain an advantage. Still, Leach did not rule out the possibility of going to extra measures to shield his signals from the opposing sideline.

“You never know,” Leach said. “We might.”

WSU’s Earth, Wind and Fire

The running back trifecta of Gerard Wicks, Keith Harrington and Jamal Morrow has combined to rush for 806 yards over eight games while averaging 6.2 yards per carry, and contributing to the pass game as well.

Each of the running backs has been effective – none of them average less than 5.5 yards per carry – but in very different manners. The 224-pound Wicks is a much more physical runner than the speedy,180-pound Harrington and Morrow is somewhere in the middle.

That’s why the group’s new nickname, “Earth, Wind and Fire,” feels so appropriate.

“You’ve got Gerard, that’s the earth. You see how he’s running,” Morrow said. “That’s a mean man to tackle, a scary dude to tackle and so he brings the pounds. That’s why he’s earth. You’ve got Keith, he’s more like the fire. He brings that fire to the offense. He brings explosiveness.”

“And then you’ve got me, just cool as the wind.”

Falk an O’Brien semifinalist

WSU quarterback Luke Falk has been named one of 17 semifinalists for the Davey O’Brien Award, which is given to the best quarterback in college football after the regular season.

Falk enters Week 10 as the nation’s No. 2 passer, averaging 404.9 passing yards per game and is tied for fourth with 28 passing touchdowns. Falk has already been named the Walter Camp National Player of the Week this season, the Maxwell Award Player of the Week and has twice been named the Pac-12’s Offensive Player of the Week.

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