My favorite dumb sports controversy of the weekend was Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder whining about Auburn allegedly stealing K-State’s offensive signals during their game on Thursday.
What an ass.
(K-State fans, please note, I think any coach in any sport whining about their opponent stealing signs is stupid. If it was Charlie Weis I would be writing the same thing. Then again, I think most of what Charlie Weis says is stupid, so that might be a bad example.)
This isn’t 1975. Every football team has hours of film on their opponents that they study and break down in great detail. I’ve been lucky enough to sit with a coach while he studied film and the modern programs that they use are pretty incredible. Put in any situation, any formation, and the program spits out the times a team has used that set up and has all the film of those plays ready to review.
After a week of prep (Or in Auburn’s case, a week and a half), the coaches and players are pretty well versed on what to expect on each snap of the ball. Knowing down, distance, and formation, they often know, down to a handful of plays, what will come next.
A good offensive coordinator should do his best to disguise plays, adjust tendencies, and be sure that each play call has built-in audibles to throw the defense off.
If Kansas State Thursday, or Florida State in January’s national title game, thinks Auburn is stealing their signs and know what plays are coming, they need to change things up. Use new signals. Adjust which coach/player the quarterback is getting the play from. Automatically check to another play off the signaled play. Or just run the plays in from the sideline.
But don’t whine about it on national TV.
Especially since you know there were coaches and players on the K-State sideline attempting to do exactly the same thing. They were watching the Auburn sideline to attempt to figure out what defensive formation or offensive play was being called so they could adjust before the snap.
Every college team does this. Every NFL team does this. Every baseball team has someone watching the third base coach and manager in the dugout, doing their best to get a read on what is coming next. It’s always been part of the game and always will be, at least until we evolve to the next level of consciousness and are able to send signals telepathically. And even then, teams will be trying to read the minds of their opponents to see if it’s going to be a fastball, if the runner is going, or if the next snap will be a pass or a run.
Stealing signs will rarely have a huge impact on the game. You might know a fastball is coming, but you still have to hit it. You might know the next play will be an off-tackle run to the right with a tight end in motion leading the way, but you still have to matchup and stop the ball. You might know KU is going to run the Chop play when they need a three-point shot late in a game, but you still have to guard it.
So coaches need to stop bitching about it. It’s childish, silly, and stupid.
And for a coach like Bill Snyder, who is one of the best of the modern era, it’s embarrassing.
If you’re getting beat, you need to coach better. Not complain.