Oregon has spent part of spring drills instituting a new system of signals after suspicions were raised that the Ducks suffered a breach of security during the 26-17 loss to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.
Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich told the Oregonian that the Ducks' code for signaling plays could have been cracked.
"There were a couple times last year when we kind of felt like our signals were, maybe, compromised," he said.
There is nothing illegal about stealing signals. In the 1990s, Northwestern cracked Michigan's code and twice defeated the Wolverines.
But in a 1997 game, two Wolverine ballboys working the Wildcat sideline figured out what Northwestern was up to and informed Michigan coaches. The proof came in the second half, with the Wolverines facing a third-and-25 play. Michigan made the unusual call of a sweep and Northwestern swarmed the play, throwing Clarence Williams for a loss. At that point, Wolverine coaches knew they had been had.
Michigan made adjustments and went on to win, 23-6. The Wolverines finished undefeated and had two ballboys to thank after claiming a share of the national title.
Oregon's new play-calling signals will resemble the system used by Oklahoma State (image below), which uses poster-board-sized placards containing images. The Ducks got the idea after playing the Cowboys in the 2008 Holiday Bowl.
"I remember looking across the field from our sideline, looking at their sign and thinking, 'Is that Jon Gruden? Who's on there?" offensive lineman Mark Asper said. "It was crazy, trying to dissect what they were doing."
Thanks to Image of Sport.