One of the advantages you gain by running a hurry-up offense is that the defense not only doesn’t have time to rest, but doesn’t have time to substitute either, unless there is a timeout — or an injury.
And so in the last several years — here’s USA Today writing about the issue in 2013 — the scourge of fake injuries has developed in college football. Dude goes down, writhes around in pain for a few seconds, gets helped off the field and then pretty much immediately, as if by miracle, he’s been healed.
This maneuver has dang near caused fights between college football coaches, but until now nobody has come up with a very good idea for putting a stop to it.
Enter Mike Gundy.
“If you’re injured, you can’t come back in until there’s a change of possession,” Gundy said. “Then you can come back in. People say ‘Well, you know, that’s not fair to that kid.’ They can do a study on this, if you’re injured, even a mild injury, you’re not coming back in in 6-8 plays. Everybody has to check you. You don’t just come back in. The rule is going to be fair if they just implement it and it will stop people from laying down.”
Gundy isn’t just thinking out loud here. He made this suggestion to the Big 12 coordinator of officials, who told him he needed to run it through the NCAA.
This is not a small issue, either. It has become a regular part of college football games, and nothing about that is good.
“We played a team this year where (a player) came off three times and they didn’t even tend to him,” Gundy said Monday. “Nobody even walked over. And it was on video. We got it on video, on our video. It was a wide enough shot to where they went out and got him, he walked off and then he went over and stood by their coaches and then they left. They didn’t even tend to him and we got it on video.”
This is a hacky and desperate defensive maneuver that a guy ought to be ashamed of. But since shame doesn’t seem to be much of a deterrent in the sports world, we’re going to have to write down yet another rule.
The obvious counterpoint to Gundy’s idea is that this rule would encourage players to play through injuries. But, for one thing, they already do that. For another, if Gundy is correct, a player who is legitimately injured will be missing six or eight plays anyway, so the point is moot, or close to it.