The Michigan sign-stealing controversy highlights how incredibly stupid college football can be

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Consider this a mea culpa to the NCAA. I was wrong, there isn’t enough money to pay the players, because there isn’t even enough money to spring for helmets with transmitters. Quarterback-sideline correspondence has come under fire in the wake of the Michigan sign-stealing scandal, with a lot of coaches — including LSU’s Brian Kelly and Alabama’s Nick Saban — correctly pointing out this issue could be easily remedied with technology.

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“It’s silly,” Kelly said Wednesday. “Silly meaning my genuine feeling is that we have too many smart people that have looked at this and said we should be doing it and we haven’t taken the time to actually move it forward.”

“You can’t steal signs and do any of this stuff if you have a helmet communicator,” Saban told ESPN.

The holdup is administrators are concerned adding headsets would negate warranties for helmets, as well as about the general cost, and implementation. What’s more expensive: One week of alternate Oregon Ducks uniforms, or a new helmet for every QB in the Pac-12?

Before I break your brain by repeatedly adding simple context, shouldn’t universities replace helmets before the warranties lapse? Who’s relying on equipment malfunctions to offset the exorbitant cost of player safety? Don’t they know all proceeds from football must be diverted to facility renovations, laundering operations, or both?

“But, Sean, if you add headsets to helmets, we won’t have any more colorful signs with arbitrary images, and three assistants practicing their own form of ASL on the sidelines!’

Good. All sign novelty wore off a decade ago, and had I known we could’ve been rid of them earlier, I would’ve fought as fervently for helmet radios as revenue sharing. When the Houston Astros got popped for sign-stealing, baseball figured out there are better ways to relay pitches than a catcher flashing fingers in front of his crotch. Simple problem, simple solution, and it says a lot about the sport of college football that MLB is outpacing it in the technology sector.

Turns out, any loon with an iPhone, a decent seat, and a knack for puzzles can morph into a Spetsnaz codebreaker given a healthy dose of obliviousness. Every 30 seconds, a child is kidnapped, and the NCAA opens an investigation into a powerhouse football program, but, sure, let’s enact the honor system.

While I’m all for defiant Jim Harbaugh quotes to spice up what’s been a pretty sleepy football season thus far, this is ludicrous. Treating sign stealing with this level of severity and scrutiny is an insult to the myriad existential issues facing the sport.

Add in that it could’ve been avoided with a visit to Radio Shack back when those stores were still in existence, and I’m ready to siphon battery acid. Worst controversy ever.

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