Alabama is taking comprehensive precautions ahead of Monday’s College Football Playoff semifinal against Michigan at the Rose Bowl, especially in light of the Wolverines’ sign-stealing allegations earlier in the season.
Wide receiver Isaiah Bond and running back Jase McClellan revealed on Thursday that film-watching protocols have been tightened, allowing viewing only as a group at team facilities with coaches present. Additionally, players are not directly receiving practice film on their iPads; only coaches have access to it.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh faced a three-game suspension during the regular season due to a sign-stealing scheme, with former staff member Connor Stallions resigning as one of the leaders of the operation. While the NCAA does not explicitly prohibit sign-stealing, it does restrict in-person scouting and the use of electronic equipment for such purposes.
Isaiah Bond mentioned, “The app where we record film off of practice and stuff like that, and they were I guess like looking at other people’s play calls, their hand signals the first eight games or something like that.”
Despite the precautions, quarterback Jalen Milroe stated that he continues to watch film on his iPad throughout the building to be adequately prepared for the game.
Alabama’s offensive coordinator, Tommy Rees, preferred not to delve into Michigan’s controversies, emphasizing the focus on Crimson Tide preparations. He stated, “I don’t think we’ve put any harm to what our preparation can look like with any of the things we’ve done. Again, we’re focused on us. Less about that stuff and more on what we can do to play well.”
Both Alabama and Michigan utilize the same company software for film viewing and data analysis. Bond noted that the Crimson Tide change signals almost every game, suggesting that concerns about sign-stealing may be somewhat exaggerated. He asserted, “It’s us going out there. They’ll have to play us on the field. We’ll see what happens when you’re on the field.”
The cautious approach reflects a commitment to ensuring the integrity of the game and minimizing any potential impact from sign-stealing allegations.