N.C. State football coach Dave Doeren has had an up-and-down week. First his Wolfpack team lost after a strong effort against the No. 1 Florida State Seminoles. But then he won the post-game news conference by pointing out that FSU players were slowing the Wolfpack’s rapid offensive tempo by doing a lot of “crazy, fall-down things,” which translates as faking injuries to let FSU catch its breath.
Then Doeren lost the post-post-game news conference when FSU coach Jimbo Fisher responded by saying, “I accuse him of not knowing what he’s talking about.”
Then Doeren did his own “fall-down thing” by apologizing to the big-time coach and saying, “I have the utmost respect for Jimbo, his staff and players. FSU played a great game and earned the win.”
What really happened here is that Doeren, not Fisher, broke a rule. That rule is that major college coaches should never, ever be candid. But for a brief shining news cycle, it was nice to see an element of truth pierce the fog. College teams are increasingly going to fast-paced offenses to keep defenses off balance and tire them. Defenses are responding by slowing the clock whenever and however they can. It’s a perfectly sensible and legal response, but not an honest one.
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The sports of hockey and soccer have penalties for “diving” in which players fake being fouled or exaggerate the impact of a foul to draw a call from the referee. Baseball doesn’t let players who leave injured return to play. It looks like football may need similar rules to discourage suspicious stoppages of a game because of “crazy, fall-down things.”
Maybe Florida State wasn’t faking injuries, but it’s happening. As ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit told Al.com last year, “No one is talking about this, but look for more fake injuries by the defense. I’ve talked to defensive coaches. These guys are actually practicing faking injuries.”