BYU coordinators Jay Hill and Aaron Roderick weigh in on Michigan sign stealing scandal, say it is prevalent in college football
‘It has happened to us this year’: BYU coaches say they spend a lot of time to prevent ‘hacking’ from opposing teams
At a time that many consider to be the best of the year for sports, what with the World Series opening on Friday, the NBA season beginning earlier this week and college and pro football in the middle of exciting and entertaining seasons, a sign-stealing scandal at the University of Michigan has captured headlines across the country.
People love a good controversy, one in which there is quite a bit of gray area to debate, and one of the sports’ Goliaths to hate.
“So, yeah, it is part of the game and we just have to deal with it.” — BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick on sign-stealing
That’s been no different at BYU this week, as coordinators Aaron Roderick and Jay Hill took time away from answering questions about the Cougars’ showdown at No. 7 Texas on Saturday to weigh in on the issue.
For those unaware, the NCAA is investigating allegations that the Wolverines football program, directed by enigmatic coach Jim Harbaugh, has sent people aligned with the program to games of future opponents and had them videotape coaches as they signaled in plays.
While sign-stealing is not against the rules, per se, the practice of sending folks to scout games in person at other schools is in violation of NCAA rules (Bylaw 11.6.1).
Here’s what BYU offensive coordinator Roderick, a 24-year coaching veteran, had to say when asked if the practice of sign-stealing is prevalent:
“I mean, there are a lot of teams that steal signs. I don’t know how many teams are doing it illegally. It is legal to do it if you can figure out the other teams’ signals during the course of the game. That’s legal.
“And there are a lot of teams who are devoting manpower to it. There are teams that study your TV copies and try to pick up if they can find a few signals from the TV broadcast. There are people that are in the booth or on the sidelines looking at your signal and trying to crack your code. That’s a pretty common thing in college football and we go to great lengths to not get hacked.
“So, yeah, it is part of the game and we just have to deal with it.”
Both Roderick and Hill said the solution is to do as they do in the NFL and put electronic devices in helmets so coaches can communicate with players on the field that way.
“Yeah, I think it would be great,” Roderick said. “I would love to try it, yeah.”
Hill, who was Weber State’s head coach from 2014-2022 and an assistant at Utah from 2001-2011, said the following when asked if stealing signs is common in college football:
“Yeah, absolutely. It happens dang near every week. I guarantee you it has happened to us this year. … It has never been anything that the staffs I have been involved with have been too much into. But I know it occurs. I know it occurs to us. We try like crazy to make sure we defend against sign-stealing.
“That’s why you have multiple signalers. You have boards. You have different things to try and make sure they can’t do that. Wristbands. I mean, this has been a thing in college football and the NFL for years and years. This is nothing new.”
Concluded Hill: “No matter who you are playing, you have to assume they are trying to steal your signals.”
Cougars on the air
BYU (2-2, 5-2) at No. 8 Texas (3-1, 6-1)
Saturday, 1:30 p.m. MDT
DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium (Capacity: 100,119)
Radio: KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM/1160 AM