My proposal to end the faking injury issue in college football
I’m not holding my breath on the NCAA to change. That seems like a wise move for my short- and long-term health.
Faking injuries has become more of an issue than ever in college football. It’s no coincidence that the rise of faked injuries coincided with the rise of up-tempo offenses.
Not sure what I’m talking about? Here are a couple of examples:
It certainly appears that an Auburn player was told by the bench to fake an injury 👀🤔pic.twitter.com/KTTJ98J0tO
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) October 26, 2019
So Notre Dame blatantly just faked an injury. pic.twitter.com/OCWycBRjej
— Connor O’Gara (@cjogara) September 22, 2019
A recent ESPN story outlined just how common these have become, and if anything can be done to stop them. NCAA coordinator of officials Steve Shaw was quoted as saying “our expectation is that in the 2020 season feigning injuries as an issue in our game will go away.”
Here’s the problem. Shaw said that at the late-February meeting, coaches were warned about faking injuries, and if the coaches don’t take action, the officials will be forced to step in and come up with new punishments.
I’m gonna make a not-so-bold prediction — that’s not gonna work, Mr. Shaw.
Instead of just sending a warning without any real promise of a punishment, I came up with a way to stop these fake injuries. Well, it would at least cut them down. A lot.
In the heat of the moment, there might not be much that can be done to further review a faked injury. A player might really be hurt, or he might not be. Either way, instead of the “1-play rule” that forces players to sit out if the game is stopped for an injury, make it a “2-minute rule.” Treat it like a penalty box. If a player goes down with 5:46 left in the 4th quarter, he can’t re-enter until the 3:46 mark. If he does, it’s a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty.
The bigger change I’d like to see is in the postgame review process. If we have all of these different camera angles now, let’s use them to truly enforce this.
If a postgame review determines that a player faked an injury, he’s suspended for the next game.
I know what you’re thinking — faked injuries aren’t usually the player’s fault. They’re instructed to do so by a coach on the sidelines. You know what’s going to give a coach pause before he instructs a player to go down? Thinking about potentially losing that player for an entire game. And hey, don’t you think a player is going to be less likely to follow that order if they were facing the possibility of a 1-game suspension?
I know what you’re also thinking — how do we enforce this? Again, the cameras are a key part of this. The second a player goes down, there should be a camera devoted to following what he does following the injury. Does he go to the sideline to get any sort of treatment? Do the trainers check in on him at any other point during the game? Does he have his helmet on and appear ready to go immediately after he gets to the sideline?
This might sound complicated, but did those aforementioned examples look complicated? They were egregious. This is meant to catch the egregious cases. The strongest piece of evidence is always going to be how they went down. Obviously the cornerback who gets trucked by the running back isn’t faking an injury. The 320-pound defensive tackle who is 30 yards from the play that falls untouched is obviously the one who needs to be examined.
And hey, because this is the business of transparency, let’s make an official Twitter account that’s strictly devoted to tweeting out videos with the announcement of why a player is suspended. Let us see what they’re seeing.
Like, there’s no debate about this:
— CapWize.com➐ (@CapWize) December 27, 2019
And to be clear, I’m by no means saying that every player with a cramp should be suspended. It has to be deemed obvious.
Take this case, for example. There was a bit of a divide on whether a Clemson player faked an injury in the College Football Playoff National Championship. TCU coach Gary Patterson seemed to clearly think it was, and Mike Gundy said he thought the kid was cramping (sound on for their discussion):
Tyler Davis’ injury timeout prompted an interesting discussion about faking injuries to stop drives on Coaches Film Room.
Gary Patterson was adamant that TCU players will never fake an injury under his watch. pic.twitter.com/nli7c5D1L6
— Yahoo Sports College Football (@YahooSportsCFB) January 14, 2020
Gundy actually proposed an idea that would be even more effective than mine. That is, don’t allow the injured player to return to the game until there’s a change of possession.
How do we enforce that? The same way an official monitors so that an injured player exits the game. And if a team violates this rule and officials don’t catch it until after the game? Suspend that player for the first half of the following game. Again, it’s on the team to know the rules. Violate them and they’ll be without a key player for a significant chunk of a game.
And yes, it is an issue. Teams do it to deceive because nothing suggests they can’t. But it’s ridiculous. It kills momentum for the offense in a way that officials simply haven’t caught up to yet. It’s a loophole. A glitch. Faking injuries goes against the strategy that the game is supposed to utilize. I don’t want to say flopping is the only reason certain Americans don’t like soccer, but it definitely isn’t helping the sport gain traction in the U.S.
But hey, it’s a good thing Shaw is laying down the law with a “warning.” I’m sure that’ll totally work and college football won’t have a single faked injury in 2020. No doubts whatsoever.
See, you can spot a fake.