LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — The surest sign that Kevin Wilson has the Indiana University football team trending in a forward direction was not the Hoosiers’ appearance in the Pinstripe Bowl last season or their victory over Michigan State last month.

Nope.

Here is the evidence the progress is legit: Nebraska defensive coordinator Mark Banker told reporters this week that the Hoosiers do “whatever they can do,” to steal defensive signs.

No need to summon Julian Assange or click on WikiLeaks for an explanation. I can handle it — and I’m not alarmed (as I will explain).

I am, however, surprised Banker was inspired to inject that story into the pre-game narrative. There was a time Nebraska could have played 10 defenders vs. 12 IU offensive guys while sharing every defensive call and still won by three touchdowns.

Like the last time the programs played — when Tom Osborne’s Huskers beat Lee Corso’s Hoosiers, 69-17.

In fact, the game Nebraska and Indiana will play Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington will be the first meeting of the Hoosiers and Huskers since Nebraska was welcomed into the Big Ten in 2011.

But during the Corso Era at IU, the teams played four times.

Nebraska won four times.

By an average score of nearly 48-11.

Nobody is predicting 48-11 Saturday. The Cornhuskers opened as 8-point favorites last Sunday. The number dwindled to 3 Wednesday afternoon. It settled at 3 1/2 at 11:25 Wednesday night.

Here is my take on coaches who complain about opponents stealing signs or whine about injury news leaking because it leaves an injured player vulnerable (always one of Steve Kragthorpe’s pet peeves during his three miserable seasons at Louisville).

Coach better.

If you think the other guy is stealing your signs that means you’re trying to steal his signs. too.

If you’re convinced the other guy is going after your injured players that tells me that you’re going after their injured players.

Change your signs. Create better signals. Fool somebody.

Don’t put somebody in the game who’s at risk of a serious injury.

For the record, Banker did not appear to be accusing Wilson and Indiana of cheating. 

These were his comments to the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal-Star Tuesday:

“What I know about them personally is the fact they do whatever they can to steal defensive signals. So they work at it real hard.

“So they're going to get your signals and if they don't get them before the game, they get them during the snap, and they actually call the play at the line of scrimmage."

As I mentioned earlier, Indiana has not played Nebraska or this coaching staff during Wilson’s six seasons in Bloomington. Where did Banker get his intelligence?

"Coaching is a very tight fraternity,” he told the Journal-Star. “Word gets around.”

There’s no reason to whisper about any of this. Why do you think most teams use three guys (one real, two dummy) to signal offensive plays from the sidelines?

When you see the backup quarterbacks shielded by towels as they wave their hands along the sidelines it’s not to prevent sunburn.

When you see college basketball coaches staring at the opposing bench regardless of the position of the ball, they’re not looking at which guys are subbing into the game. 

They’re reading lips and stealing play calls. A coach once told me some programs plant microphones near the visiting bench to pick-up the calls.

When you see baseball runners peering toward home plate from second base, they’re not looking for the scoreboard. They’re trying to relay the location of the pitch and (if possible) whether it’s fastball, breaking ball or changeup.

Gamesmanship. Competition. The unrelenting search for an edge.

As the noted passing game guru Hyman Roth once told Michael Corleone, “This is the business we have chosen.”

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