The explosive Oregon offense has been garnering headlines all season with its historically prolific production – they’re so unstoppable that apparently opposing teams have turned to faking injuries to slow them down.
The Oregonian reported today that a source within the California program—who were toppled by the Ducks in an uncharacteristically pedestrian game last weekend, 15-13—revealed that the staff instructed players to feign injuries to delay the Ducks offense.
The anonymous source called the tactic “a big part” of the defensive plan, though he stressed that the scheme did not meet with unanimous approval from coaches.
As is to be expected, the video launched a feverish search that launched this video, complete with circus-like horn music, that clearly shows Cal defensive lineman Aaron Tipoti looking to the sideline after a play, then falling on the ball like he’s been shot:
There’s also this 14-minute compilation of what in soccer circles would be referred to as “simulation”.
This isn’t the first instance of this occurring against the Ducks. Video evidence shows Stanford doing it, while head coach Chip Kelly likened the proclivity of Arizona State Sun Devils to hit the turf in their game in late September to that of a “World Cup match.”
There’s no official rule against the faking of injuries in college football, though, as the video shows, the NCAA rulebook discourages it by using such language as “indefensible” and “unsportsmanlike” without explicitly enumerating sanctions. It puts officials in an awkward position, as explained by Dave Cutaia, the Pac-10 coordinator of officials.
“We’re stuck. The only thing an official can do – and this is at every level – is if they see what looks like an injury, they have to stop the clock. We can’t get in the business of deciding whether it’s valid or not.”
Kelly was dismissive of the possibility of an official inquiry, deeming it “[the league’s] prerogative”, while Cal coach Jeff Tedford was brief when put to the task:
I know any time anybody goes down against Oregon, (Duck fans) always think that’s the case, but it’s not the case.
We have to agree with Kelly: this diving nonsense seems to resemble that other football that’s become so much more popular in the States lately. At least it gives us an excuse to show you this video from the Champions’ League four years ago, and this hilarious commercial, all of which may feature in Cal’s video study next week.
Feign injury (and interest) with me on Twitter @sportsdoctormd