The college football season rolls on with big upsets, heavyweight matchups and yup, you guessed it, elite whining.
I haven’t spent hours exploring the Michigan sign-stealing drama, so I apologize in advance if I’m missing something, but are we sure this is that big of a deal?
Stealing signs in sports has been around since the beginning of signs and sports. Did Michigan go to excessive means to steal signals? Absolutely, and I understand they technically broke the rules due to use of certain electronic equipment. But come on. You’re telling me the other 13 teams in the Big Ten have never tried stealing signs through some covert video surveillance or advance scouting? Michigan just did it at such an elite level that it became too obvious they were cheating. That’s why they got caught.
Please understand, I am not condoning cheating. I am, however, not going to feel bad for elite D1 college football programs that use massive signs to relay plays onto the field. It’s like a beautiful women walking around town in as little clothing as legally possible and then getting annoyed that men can’t stop looking. Those signs are GIGANTIC and the content isn’t subtle like a vegetable or piece of fruit. It’s movie characters, football legends, stars and so and so forth. This is big time college football, people! TV deals are worth billions. Athletic departments are managing hundreds of millions. You’re telling me we still have to use signs to relay plays to the athletes on the field? I read somewhere that college football apologists are against the play-calling to the helmet technology because it takes away from what college football is all about. Uuuhhh, what? I don’t remember these signs when I was young. College football was fine before them and it will be fine without them. Or, go on with the signs and stop whining about people trying to decipher your code and use it against you.
Also, if it was so obvious Michigan was stealing signs, isn’t knowing a team knows your signals an almost equal (or perhaps even bigger) advantage than an opponent not knowing? Using that knowledge against them can be potent and even throws everything they thought they knew into chaos. I’ve coached high-level football (eighth grade football, lost in semis, what’s up) and the easiest teams to exploit were the ones I knew had film on us and knew our calls.
Finally, it’s like Deion Sanders said, it doesn’t matter if they know your signs, they still have to beat you. Georgia trounced Michigan in the Wolverine’s first college football playoff appearance. Georgia was one of the teams Michigan was reportedly stealing signs from. Last season, Michigan gave up 51 points to TCU in the playoff semifinals. This isn’t that big of a deal.
The Penn State fans and others blaming Drew Allar for another Penn State loss against a top ten team should take a second look at the film from last Saturday. Was Allar good? No. I’m not trying to convince you he was good enough to win that game. However, he was not the reason they lost. No, Penn State lost because their offense lacks imagination, identity and talent on the outside.
Let’s start with imagination. Through seven games, Penn State’s offense resembles Iowa’s offense more than Washington’s. I laughed when FOX flashed the graphic that the Nittany Lions boasted the nation’s 5th best offense. Anyone who watched Penn State this fall knew that was a fraudulent number built on lousy opponents. Penn State doesn’t stretch the field. They don’t effectively use basic concepts like sail routes, drags and wheels. When you lack elite talent on the outside, you need to scheme guys into space. Penn State doesn’t do that. I know Franklin scoffed at the idea of throwing deep just to throw deep, and I agree with his point, but you do have to occasionally change the eyes of the defense just like a pitcher would in baseball.
Coming into the season I expected Penn State to punish teams on the ground and use play action over the top. Despite two excellent backs and a returning offensive line, the Nittany Lions have failed to get Nicholas Singleton or Kaytron Allen back to their 2022 form. When you can’t run and you can’t throw the football effectively, you are going to struggle and look hopeless against elite opponents.
Finally, the Penn State receiver room needs an influx of talent. They’ve been trying to band-aid the issue with FCS transfers and that has fallen flat. To their credit, the team did bring in a new receiver coach this season, and he should certainly be afforded time to turn that unit around, but it is clearly the team’s biggest weakness. Allar made plenty of throws Saturday that should have been caught and Penn State simply did not have a playmaker out there.
I’m giving myself the third place prize again. Despite being an avid supporter of the expanded playoffs, I am having second thoughts. Look at the current rankings and you’ll cringe at who would be in the playoffs if this were 2024. The aforementioned Penn State is not an actual playoff team. Ole Miss? Oregon State? Yikes. While I could hear an argument made, I don’t think Utah or Notre Dame are particular strong this season and they’re likely to jump into that top 12 as the season progresses. We should have expanded to eight. I’m probably still going to love it, but I think 12 could ultimately be a mistake.
Thursday Night Pick; Bills -9.5 (I don’t know why it took a month and a half and a Dawson Knox injury for him to see the field more, but Dalton Kincaid will boost Buffalo’s offense in a big way.)