Remember all the talk leading up to the Ole Miss/Alabama game coming from Oxford, Miss.?
"Yeah, I think we can put points on them," Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace said last week, per AL.com. "I think we can put points on anybody."
The Crimson Tide tossed a shutout on Saturday night, topping the Rebels 25-0 and limiting the normally potent Rebel offense to just 205 total yards.
How'd they do it?
Former Rebel coordinator of recruiting development Tyler Siskey played a part.
Siskey joined Alabama's support staff as the associate director of player personnel this offseason, but he was featured prominently on ESPN's broadcast in the Alabama coaches' booth with binoculars during a critical fourth-down play early in the fourth quarter.
Shady? Not according to Alabama head coach Nick Saban.
“He (Siskey) didn’t really assist in the game plan," Saban said according to CoachingSearch.com. "He wasn’t on the head set. He didn’t talk to anybody during the game. I don’t know if there’s any rule that says he can’t go in the press box and watch the game. He wasn’t in any different position than he’s ever been in any game."
That might not be entirely true, according to Neal McCready of RebelGrove.com:
Interesting comments from Tuscaloosa today. I have no idea, but heard from Ole Miss sources Siskey was on bench first three games.— Neal McCready (@NealMcCready) September 30, 2013
The NCAA rule on coaches limits a program to nine on-the-field assistants, but several SEC programs—including Alabama—have beefed up their off-the-field staff lately. While graduate assistants and strength and conditioning head coaches are subject to exceptions, Bylaw 126.96.36.199 limits the coaching impact of that staff:
No individual other than coaches designated to fill the coaching categories set forth in Bylaw 11.7.2 may participate in any manner in the coaching of the intercollegiate team of a member institution during any football game, practice or other organized activity
But what's defined as "coaching"? If Siskey didn't have the headset on, is he really coaching?
This isn't a controversy.
Pete Roussel of CoachingSearch.com reported on Sunday night that the Ole Miss staff saw this coming in the offseason and changed its signals accordingly. If Alabama stole Ole Miss' signals, that's an Ole Miss problem, not an Alabama problem.
That's why they're signals. The primary reason they exist in the first place is to disguise the play call.
Ole Miss runs a hurry-up, no-huddle attack, so Siskey's impact during the game would be minimized by Freeze's scheme. He would be a benefit, however, supporting the staff with intelligence on Freeze's patterns, tendencies and philosophy.
Ole Miss got beat, plain and simple. Did Siskey help? Sure. There's no doubt he played a part. But his loyalty is to his paycheck, and his paycheck comes from the University of Alabama.