During Virginia Tech’s 24-3 humbling of Florida State on Labor Day, several Hokie defenders fell to the ground and called for medical help between plays, while the Seminole offense was moving to the line of scrimmage with pace. On at least one of those occasions, a lot of people thought they saw the Hokie take direction from his sideline before going down.
A lot of people made fun of this player:
Was Virginia Tech serially faking hurt to stop the game and slow FSU’s offense? Someone put basically that question to Noles coach Willie Taggart on Wednesday.
“It happened too often so it’s hard not to,” Taggart said, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “It happened too often.”
Someone put the same question to Tech head coach Justin Fuente.
“My answer is that we had numerous issues with cramping and guys battling through bumps and bruises and nicks and things that they were fighting through,” he said, giving the media a world-class stiff arm and heading for the open field.
Whether Virginia Tech players were faking or not, its become a fairly common practice across the sport. A few games per year include teams widely accused of exaggerating or making up injuries to prevent fast-moving offenses from getting to the line and snapping the ball.
“It is what it is. I guess it’s part of football now,” Taggart said, per the Times-Dispatch. Until the NCAA put in rules to stop it, he said, he didn’t see why teams would stop.
At present, there isn’t a rule that deals explicitly with players who fake injuries for game-stopping purposes. The rulebook does call for a 5-yard delay-of-game penalty for “action clearly designed to delay the officials from making the ball ready.”
But some players who get accused of faking are likely not faking. Among football’s many problems, player safety is a much bigger one than injury-faking to stop up-tempo offenses. It seems like it’d be hard to make a rule against that without pressuring some really, truly injured players to just suck up their ailments, and that wouldn’t be good at all.