Ohio State Reportedly Warned TCU of Michigan's Sign Stealing Ahead of CFP Matchup, Horned Frogs Used Dummy Signals in Response

By Garrick Hodge on October 26, 2023 at 8:15 pm
Sonny Dykes and Jim Harbaugh
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Ohio State was one of several Big Ten schools that warned TCU about Michigan's sign-stealing operation ahead of the schools' College Football Playoff matchup last year, according to a report by Yahoo Sports' Ross Dellenger.

Per the report, the Horned Frogs' staff started to receive phone calls from Big Ten coaches about the Wolverines' elaborate sign-stealing operation spearheaded by Connor Stalions right after the CFP matchups were announced. Ohio State was one of the aforementioned Big Ten schools that gave TCU a heads-up ahead of time.

“Literally everybody we talked to knew,” one TCU coach told Yahoo Sports. “They’d say, ‘Just so you know, they steal your signals and they’re going to have everything so you better change them.’”

Another coach told the TCU staff Michigan “has the most elaborate signal-stealing in the history of the world.”

So, TCU fought back. The Horned Frogs changed up some of their signals in addition to purposely signaling in plays late so Stalions wouldn't have enough time to alert Michigan coaches. They also reportedly purposely used old signals to trick the Wolverines during their 51-45 upset. 

“The guy (Stalions) was wrong a couple of times,” one TCU staff member told Yahoo Sports. “We rewatched the TV version of the game. You can see him standing next to the defensive coordinator. He tells something to the coordinator and he points in the air to mean pass. You can see the playsheet he’s holding with our hand signs on them.”

But not all of the countermeasures were foolproof.  

“There are some times in the game that they still got us,” a TCU staff member told Yahoo Sports, “especially on short-yardage.”

The investigation into Michigan for the sign-stealing operation remains ongoing. No penalty from the NCAA will likely be levied until 2024 at the earliest, though the Big Ten could punish the Wolverines earlier if it feels it has enough evidence.

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