Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three seasons at the Baltimore Sun and eight at the Star Tribune, before switching to the college football beat. He’s a Faribault, Minn., native who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He covered Jim Wacker’s Gophers for the Minnesota Daily and also wrote about USC, UCLA and the Rose Bowl for the Riverside Press-Enterprise before getting this chance to cover football again.

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Wildcats mindful of prying eyes when calling plays

Posted by: Phil Miller under College football, Gophers game day Updated: October 12, 2012 - 9:54 AM

     The visitor's sideline at TCF Bank Stadium is across the field from the press box. So maybe the guys holding the purple "Northwestern" banner will have the day off Saturday.
     For the past couple of weeks, the Wildcats have assigned a couple of staff members to hold the banner up while Northwestern's offense was on the field, to block views from behind of the signals being relayed to the quarterback. The reason, coach Pat Fitzgerald confirmed at his weekly news conference, was a suspicion that opposing coaches in the press box may try to steal their signs.
     "Absolutely. We're smarter than we look. We know what's going on," Fitzgerald said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. "We're getting into Big Ten play now. We know that they know that we know."
     Familiarity breeds temptation, Fitzgerald figures, and the Wildcats have faced some Big Ten coaching staffs for several years, plenty of time to pick up a few hints about what's coming. "When you're playing in the non-conference (season), it's not as big of a concern," the eighth-year coach said. "But when you're playing in league play, like I said -- we know that they know that we know."
     There's not much that they can do to hide the signals when facing the press box, as they will against the Gophers. But Northwestern took the precaution of screening their signal-relay players from anyone watching from behind.
     But isn't it practically impossible to pick up crucial signals from behind? "You'd be surprised," Fitzgerald said.
 

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