Are Illegal Fake Field Goals Illegal Or Not?

↵Earlier this year, Clemson and Georgia Tech played a game that ↵featured not one but two instances of the old run-the-guy-off-but-don't ↵fake field goal: ↵

↵
↵ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵ ↵
↵

↵Clemson, remarkably, pulled off a similar gambit on a second-half ↵drive that ended in a game-tying field goal. Back in the old days, ↵people would run this by sending a receiver one foot onto the field, but ↵the NCAA outlawed that by requiring any substitute to come inside the ↵numbers lest they throw an illegal substitution flag. Teams now get ↵around this by leaving a receiver on the field, and refs let it go. ↵

↵

↵They apparently shouldn't. In the aftermath of the GT-Clemson game, ↵the ACC retroactively declared the plays illegal: ↵

↵
↵⇥Both plays in Thursday's game should have been flagged and nullified for ↵⇥violating a rule prohibiting substitution tactics that may confuse ↵⇥opponents, ACC coordinator of football officials Doug Rhoads said ↵⇥Monday. ↵
↵

↵Doctor ↵Saturday's not a fan of the persnickety ruling. Neither am I, but ↵for different reasons: saying any attempt to "simulate ↵replacement" is illegal is hugely vague, and when you give referees ↵discretion they're just given one more opportunity to screw it up. Come ↵up with something concrete or let it go. ↵

↵

↵Despite the blogosphere's discontent at the ruling, it is what it is. ↵As such, you'll note something missing from this play: ↵

↵
↵ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵ ↵
↵

↵That missing item would be a flag. The Pac-10 would like you to know ↵that there should have been one, and Charlie Weis would like to ↵say "no comment" and then comment: ↵

↵
↵⇥"I will have no comment on it," Weis said Thursday. ... ↵⇥

↵⇥Weis did say that he warned the officials that the Irish would ↵⇥throw "the kitchen sink" at the Trojans -- though ↵⇥apparently wary of conference conspiracy theories, he didn't get into ↵⇥detail. ↵⇥

↵⇥"I'm not going to tell the Pac-10 officials, ever, that we have ↵⇥a special play," Weis said. "I won't tell them the next time ↵⇥either. They're going to have to call it as it happens. And that might ↵⇥not be the only conference-affiliated officiating crew I don't tell that ↵⇥there's something special we're doing, if you get my drift. ↵⇥
↵⇥
↵⇥"But what I usually do is I usually say, we've got a bunch of ↵⇥wrinkles in here, so be on guard. Not that we ever have a vanilla game ↵⇥plan, but if I'm not doing anything out of the ordinary, I'll just say ↵⇥we don't have anything out of the ordinary." ↵
↵

↵No one refuses to comment at length like Charlie Weis does. It's a ↵schematic advantage. ↵

↵

↵Weis continues to stoke the Notre Dame fanbase's officiating ↵conspiracy mania by suggesting he wouldn't dare tell an officiating ↵crew what he has planned in fears they would scurry over to the other ↵team and blow it, and he does this in spite of the Pac-10 blowing not ↵only that above call but two separate personal fouls on Taylor Mays ↵and the two-point conversion against Washington that prevented ↵Notre Dame from losing that game in regulation. Pac-10 referees have ↵been about as valuable to Notre Dame as Golden Tate. If anything, he ↵should be asking them for pointers on opponents. ↵

↵

↵Back to the field goal: is this thing illegal or not? It's a zen ↵koan: if directors of officials across the land think a rule exists but ↵the officials themselves don't, does the rule exist? And how is an ↵official supposed to throw a flag on this? What do they call it? ↵"Um, I think this guy over here is cheating but I can't really ↵specify why?" This rule is the opposite of obscenity: people ↵don't know it when they see it. The NCAA should give up this year and ↵put in some rule to officially ban it next year. Waving your hands and ↵trying to erase touchdowns after the fact is pointless. ↵

↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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