Texas’ Steve Sarkisian: Helmet radios would end signal-stealing drama

Field Level Media

November 16, 2023 at 7:30 pm.

There is a simple and relatively benign solution to college football’s sign-stealing drama if you are willing to listen to Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian make the argument for technology in players’ headgear.

“Everybody write an article about why doesn’t college football have coach-to-player communication so I don’t have to deal with sign-stealing,” Sarkisian said to reporters Thursday. “I spend half of my week changing signals and signs rather than coaching football. So please, write an article.”

Sarkisian has a background in the NFL and is the primary play-caller for the Longhorns, much like previous stints at Alabama and Southern California.

“It all just makes sense. It all makes sense to me,” Sarkisian said. “There’s no shortage of money in college football, clearly. The whole idea that it’s a competitive disadvantage for those (universities) that can’t do it, or that stadiums aren’t equipped to have that type of technology, I don’t buy it. I don’t understand it.”

Most stadiums already are outfitted with newer advanced communication technology to be in compliance with real-time statistics and data gathering for game broadcasts and other uses.

NFL coaches call in offensive and defensive plays using a microphone headset with one-way communication to individual players on the field. In some situations, signals are used to change plays or communicate when technology doesn’t cooperate.

College football’s blaring headline since midseason has surrounded an alleged plot at Michigan in which low-level assistants or others loosely connected to the program attended games of future opponents to study sideline communication and signals to their players on the field.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh is currently suspended for from coaching on game days for the rest of the regular season by the Big Ten, pending a court hearing Friday that could restore his sideline access.

The news around the undefeated Wolverines has dominated coverage of the sport from coast-to-coast.

“The fact that every time I turn on anything late at night and they’re talking about college football, if not the first topic, the second topic is we’re talking about sign-stealing,” Sarkisian said. “Our game is way too good. There’s too many good stories going on right now in college football that that’s at the forefront of what we’re doing.

“It should be at the forefront because I think what was going on (at Michigan) was wrong. But at the end of the day, that shouldn’t be at the forefront. … We’re talking about sign-stealing? Like, let’s just fix the problem. Let’s get player-to-coach communication and move forward.”

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