Oregon fans have complained all year about opponents allegedly faking injuries to disrupt the frenetic tempo of the Ducks' chart-topping offense. Most of the time, they boo. Now they've taken to chronicling the assorted flops in an attempt to openly mock them:
Fans, of course, see what they want to see and boo who they want to boo. But this week, for the first time, an opponent has allegedly owned up to the flopping:
It started at Tennessee, in the second week of the season, and reached a theatrical high in Oregon's 15-13 win at California on Saturday night when several seemingly able-bodied defenders suddenly grabbed their leg and fell on the ball before it could be snapped.
"I know any time anybody goes down against Oregon, (Duck fans) always think that's the case, but it's not the case,"' Cal coach Jeff Tedford said when asked if the injuries were faked.
However, a source within the Bears football program confirmed to The Oregonian that this indeed was "a big part'' of the defensive game plan against Oregon, although not all Cal coaches were on board with this strategy.
As the video showed, the NCAA rules aren't exactly on board with it, either, though it's not technically illegal: As Pac-10 officiating coordinator Dave Cutaia told the Oregonian, "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." The "injured" player has to leave for a play, but the only discretion an official has if he suspects flopping is to include a note in his game report to the conference.
The Ducks' only outlet: Shame. Coach Chip Kelly called the first half of the win over Arizona State in September "like a World Cup game," filled with Sun Devil defenders diving to the turf like soccer divas. He's described defenses as "waving the white flag" in the face of Oregon's breakneck pace. Oregon fans have booed suspected floppers relentlessly. The video making the rounds this week directly challenges Jeff Tedford's "integrity" for the flops at Cal. Eventually, someone will be compelled to invoke football's most notorious fall-down boys, Frank Leahy's "Fainting Irish."
For his part, Arizona coach Mike Stoops is so above the fray re: faking injuries that he told reporters ahead of this week's trip to Eugene, "I don't even what that is," and promised it's "not something we use as part of our game plan." I'm sure Autzen Stadium won't hold him to that if a few Wildcats hit the turf on Saturday night.
- - -
Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.