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NCAA could soon crack down on defensive players faking injuries

If there is an equivalent to defensive coaches watching offensive lineman go illegally downfield on RPOs, it has to be offensive coaches watching a defender fall to the ground "in pain" as a tactic to slow down drives.

We've all seen it happen. An offense is really clicking at the end of the half, or end of the game, and moving the ball efficiently down the field when a defensive player lies on the ground "injured," forcing officials to stop the momentum for an injury timeout.

Everyone in the stadium knows the strategy being rolled out in that instance. Slow the offensive down, steal the momentum. Sometimes you can even see the defensive staff motioning for a player, or using a code word, to get him to fall down and feign leg cramps or some other type of timely injury.

Last year, the NCAA rules committee spent a number of days discussing the issue of faking injuries, and in January the AFCA Ethic Committee voted during their meeting in January to bring the issue back to the forefront, believing its past time for it to be addressed.

"Our ethics committee, which suggests rules changes to the NCAA, said by unanimous consent that this has got to stop," AFCA executive director Todd Berry shared with ESPN. "So they asked the rules committee to do something about it. It's bad for football."

One of the big issues that the rules committee wrestled with is how to judge the intent of a down player. Is it a legit injury? Or is it a fake one meant to stop the clock? Asking officials to decide that is a tall task, and a slippery slope.

Currently, players are only required to come off the field for a play.

The problem with that approach? Berry believes it doesn't have any teeth.

"Rules need to have teeth, and if there's no teeth, there's no impact," Berry shared. "There needs to be a harsh deterrent."

Instead of just coming out for a play, as the current rule suggests, Berry suggests requiring the injured player to miss the rest of the series, and the team could opt to use a timeout to get that player eligible to return to the game.

The rules committee is set to meet virtually in March, when the issue will be discussed further.

By and large, the feeling in the profession is that something certainly needs to be done, and Berry's suggestion on missing a series seems to make a lot of sense.

Head here to read the full piece from ESPN with more from Berry and the NCAA rules committee.

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