For those who haven’t been keeping up to date on college football news, the Michigan Wolverines have been implicated in an elaborate sign-stealing scandal. Head coach Jim Harbaugh and staffer Connor Stalions are at the forefront of the investigation. However, rumors and speculations have reached all over the country, including the South Carolina football program.
A ridiculously far-fetched idea has appeared out of Knoxville, Tennessee by Volunteer fans who still cannot cope with the fact that the Gamecocks smacked their favorite team up, down, and all around Williams-Brice Stadium for three hours last November.
This conspiracy theory suggests that Michigan, in hopes of hurting Tennessee’s playoff chances, illegally stole signals from the Vols and forwarded all of their findings to the Gamecocks. According to the tin foil hat-wearing fans of the orange and white, South Carolina football only beat them because of these alleged stolen signs. They’ve even posited that Michigan did this the next week for USC’s game against Clemson.
A more realistic accusation has been levied against the Clemson Tigers. Clemson, who notoriously has been proud of their legal sign-stealing for almost a decade, has been accused of taking things a step further, using illegal methods to steal their opponents’ signs before ever stepping on the field.
According to reports from ESPN’s Alex Scarborough and Adam Rittenberg, while interviewing coaches all over the country about the Michigan scandal, Clemson was mentioned by multiple sources who claimed the Tigers cheated ahead of their National Championship matchup with LSU after the 2019 season.
According to this source, Clemson football staffers sent individuals to the SEC Championship Game to scout LSU in their game against Georgia (this is highly illegal).
Also according to these sources, former defensive coordinator Brent Venables (now the head coach at Oklahoma) was the central figure in the sign-stealing at Clemson. When his unit took the field against the Bayou Bengals, they did something that hadn’t been done all season: they forced LSU to punt on their first three possessions.
According to the sources, LSU head coach Ed Orgeron “knew” that Venables, Dabo Swinney, and the Tigers were up to no good and ordered the signs to be changed near the end of the 1st quarter. LSU went on to score 42 points in the final 47 minutes of the game (including 35 points on their next six drives) to blow out Clemson 42-25.
The allegations against Clemson hold some validity (at least more than a made-up conspiracy about Michigan helping South Carolina) because real sources provided real reporters with the information. However, as the alleged cheating came in a loss and is based solely upon hearsay, nothing will ever come of it.
The Michigan Wolverines, on the other hand, could be in some hot water. The NCAA, the FBI, and other independent investigators are all part of the probe into the maize and blue, and tangible proof has been found. A “manifesto” from Stalions, Venmo payments for illegally-purchased tickets to other games, and other bits of damning evidence have been uncovered.
Testimonies from those who were paid by Stalions include claims that the Michigan staffer instructed them to illegally attend games and video tape future or potential Wolverine opponents’ sidelines in hopes of learning signals and tendencies. That is, of course, highly illegal.
Where the investigation will lead and how it will affect the College Football Playoff hopeful Wolverines remains to be seen.
South Carolina football fans, though, have gotten a nice laugh out of their team being brought into the discussions, and most Gamecocks wouldn’t have their feelings hurt if the allegations against their archrival Clemson proved to be true, as well.
For now, college football fans should just relax and try to enjoy the final month of the regular season. Once the season is over, South Carolina football fans, Clemson fans, Michigan fans, and every fanbase in between will be wishing for fall once again, whether their teams have gotten in trouble for stealing signs or not.