What Kyle Whittingham said about sign stealing

Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham watches the action in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023.
Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham watches the action in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
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The alleged Michigan sign stealing scandal has rocked the college football world.

According to ESPN’s Pete Thamel, Michigan staffer Connor Stalions is alleged to have purchased tickets to 12 Big Ten schools as part of a sign stealing operation.

“The NCAA has been sent at least an hour of video evidence that shows a person sitting in a seat appearing to video the home sideline with a smartphone,” Thamel wrote, adding that according to his sources, the ticket was purchased by Stalions.

Michigan has suspended Stalions with pay.

In light of the controversy, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham was asked about sign stealing on Tuesday night.

“In my opinion — in-game, now I’m talking — if you’re getting your signs stolen, that’s your fault, because they’re too simplistic and too easy. In-game, I think that’s kind of commonplace. People try to pick up on signs with each other,” Whittingham said.


Utah does what it can to make sure its signs are not easy to pick up. But while it’s common for schools to try to figure out signs in-game, what Michigan is alleged of doing is against NCAA rules.

“Off-campus, in-person scouting of future opponents (in the same season) is prohibited,” the NCAA rule book states.

Another NCAA rule reads, “Any attempt to record, either through audio or video means, any signals given by an opposing player, coach or other team personnel is prohibited.”

Said Whittingham: “Where it gets dicey is if you do things outside of the game, and I think that is really what is frowned upon.”

Of course, sign stealing could be fixed rather easily in college football. In the NFL, the play-caller and the quarterback are able to communicate via a radio in the helmet, and hand signals for plays aren’t as common.

Whittingham is in favor of the radios moving to the college game.

“I think that would be a big positive,” he said.