Arizona State Sun Devils

RAMOT HASHEVIM, ISRAEL - OCTOBER 26: Israeli egg farmer Dan Aronheim sprays pesticide to kill the flies that breed in the mounds of feces under the cages of his 3,500 Highline breed egg-laying chickens in his small family farm October 26, 2005 in Ramot Hashevim, in central Israel. The livelihood of thousands of small farmers is being threatened by the migration of the H5N1 Avian Flu virus from the Far East to Western Europe. (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)
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Todd Graham drops ‘chicken****’ on Mike Leach in postgame handshake


At least postgame, #Pac12AfterDark lived up to its NSFW billing.

Last season, Washington State’s Mike Leach accused his counterpart at Arizona State, Todd Graham, of stealing signs.  Ahead of the Cougars’ Week 8 trip to Tempe to face the Sun Devils, Leach again broached the sign-stealing allegations; that broaching earned Leach a reprimand and a $10,000 fine from the Pac-12.

While Graham had personally stayed relatively mum on the subject, the coach’s athletic director stated they fully supported the conference’s actions as “[o]ur professional integrity was questioned for two straight years by Mike Leach’s irresponsible comments and we will not allow that to happen.” Graham may have been relatively mum during the week, but, in the aftermath of Wazzu’s 37-32 win Saturday night, the coach apparently could no longer bite his tongue.

Leach, of course, was asked about the situation in his postgame presser.

Pirate’s gonna pirate, regardless.

Arizona State fires final shot at Washington State’s Mike Leach over sign-stealing comments

BOULDER, CO - OCTOBER 15:  Arizona State Sun Devils head coach Todd Graham coaches on the sideline during a game against the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field on October 15, 2016 in Boulder, Colorado.  (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
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The Pac-12 announced on Thursday that the conference would be issuing a public reprimand and fining Washington State head coach Mike Leach $10,000 as the result of his earlier comments accusing Arizona State of stealing signs.


While that surprising decision from the league office to step in may have been enough for some schools, it appears the Sun Devils wanted to make sure they would be getting in one final parting shot at the Cougars.

“I fully support the Pacific-12 Conference Office and Commissioner Larry Scott’s decision on this matter,” athletics director Ray Anderson said in a statement on Friday. “Our professional integrity was questioned for two straight years by Mike Leach’s irresponsible comments and we will not allow that to happen.  We are pleased with the outcome and for us the matter is closed.”

Leach accused ASU of stealing signs both last season and earlier in the week at his Monday press conference. Todd Graham defended his program and responded directly to the comments the next day and it appears that the Pac-12 decided to step in and put an end to the war of words going back-and-forth between the two coaches. It’s rare for one athletic director to call another coach in the league “irresponsible,” but you can understand why they would want to be defensive over such a touchy subject.

While Anderson says he considers the matter closed, something says this issue will be brought up again when the two teams meet on Saturday night in Tempe and both coaches square off from opposite sidelines.

Pac-12 fines, reprimands Washington State coach Mike Leach for comments about Arizona State

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 27: Washington State Cougars head coach Mike Leach protests a call during the first half of a football game against the Washington Huskies at Husky Stadium on November 27, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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The Pac-12 has reprimanded and fined Washington State coach Mike Leach a whopping $10,000 for his comments this week about Arizona State stealing signs.

“Conference rules prohibit Pac-12 member institutions from disparaging each other and discrediting other institutions,” commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. “Information or accusations relative to rule violations must be handled by institutions filing those concerns with the Conference office through a formal process, and institutions must refrain from discussing those concerns publicly.”

Leach accused the Sun Devils and head coach Todd Graham of stealing signs last season and brought the subject up again at his Monday press conference ahead of the Cougars trip to Tempe this weekend.

“We’ll have to keep an eye on it. That’s certainly the reputation. And I think they have a certain amount of technology and expertise on the subject which if they ever go to a different conference or something I’d certainly like them to share it with us,” Leach said. “You’ve got to keep an eye on it because they’ll steal signs and they’re pretty clever about it. And it’s like breaking the enigma code with them… I think they ought to do a full on investigation to see how they’re doing it and make sure it’s within the rules.”

The Pac-12 noted that it is not against NCAA rules to observe an opponent’s signals but a school cannot use any audio or video equipment to record them.

Graham defended his program earlier in the week from the accusations and denied that they used any equipment to record signals.

This isn’t the first time this subject has come up so you can bet that the pre-game talk — and post-game handshake — between the two head coaches might be a little chilly on Saturday given all the words flying back-and-forth between the two.

Entering Week 7, 10 teams vying to become bowl-eligible

WINSTON SALEM, NC - OCTOBER 30:  A general view of the outside of the stadium before the game between the Louisville Cardinals and Wake Forest Demon Deacons at BB&T Field on October 30, 2015 in Winston Salem, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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When the games with the late-night start times are finally put to bed early Sunday morning, we’ll officially have reached the halfway point of the 2016 regular season.  And, with that, we can also officially start looking at the postseason and the plethora of bowl games that will ensue.

Entering Week 7, there are already six teams that have reached the six-win threshold for bowl eligibility: Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, Texas A&M, Washington and turnover-free Western Michigan.  A handful of teams — 10 to be exact — have the chance to join those half-dozen teams in becoming eligible to compete in the postseason.

Below are those 10 teams, their opponent this weekend, the last season in which they played in a bowl game and their current bowl streak:

Arizona State at Colorado (4-2), 2015, five straight
Baylor vs. Kansas (1-4), 2015, six
Boise State vs. Colorado State (3-3), 2015, 14
Houston vs. Tulsa (4-1), 2015, three
Nebraska at Indiana (3-2), 2015, eight
Ohio State at Wisconsin (4-1), 2015, three
Tennessee vs. Alabama (6-0), 2015, two
USF vs UConn (3-3), 2015, one
Utah at Oregon State (2-3), 2015, two
Wake Forest at Florida State (4-2), 2011, zero

ASU’s Graham expects Wilkins will play vs. Colorado

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 24:  Quarterback Manny Wilkins #5 of the Arizona State Sun Devils calls a play in the game against the California Golden Bears at Sun Devil Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Tempe, Arizona. The Sun Devils won 51-41.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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Arizona State’s quarterback situation may not be in as dire straights as the team first thought as they prepare to take on Colorado in a big Pac-12 South battle.

Head coach Todd Graham told reporters on Thursday that starting quarterback Manny Wilkins appears to be good to go after he was injured against USC and missed all of last week’s win against UCLA.

“I anticipate him to play,” Graham said. “I don’t know how much. Obviously that could change, but I anticipate him to play.”

The coach noted that if the Sun Devils had to play on Thursday, it would likely be some sort of combination of Wilkins and true freshman Dillon Sterling-Cole under center against the Buffs. However, the starter is progressing nicely with his recovery to the point where he could be the guy on Saturday full-time after throwing well in practice.

ASU was put in a bit of a pickle at quarterback on Saturday against UCLA as backup signal-caller Brady White suffered a season-ending foot injury in the second half after starting in place of Wilkins. Sterling-Cole’s redshirt was burned in the fourth quarter and he threw an interception on his first pass but the Sun Devils eventually held on to move to into a first place tie in the division.

Colorado is not without their own quarterback issues this week as well. Starter Sefo Liufau still does not appear to be 100 percent yet despite playing a few snaps last week and the Buffs might be starting redshirt freshman Steven Montez for the fourth straight game.

As a result, it’s safe to say the key to the game for both teams is keeping their quarterbacks upright and healthy for a full 60 minutes on Saturday.