Everyone can agree defensive players faking injuries is a problem for college football, but no one can agree on what to do about it.
The NCAA's competition and rules committees gathered at the organization's headquarters in Indianapolis to discuss a myriad of issues and, according to ESPN's Alex Scarborough, the hottest topic of debate was that of players faking injuries.
Over two days of discussion, Scarborough reports, the rules committee discussed adding punitive measures to injury fakers -- only to struggle at finding the right measure.
For starters, the NCAA would not and will not ask referees to determine if a player is faking or not.
More importantly, the committee grasped at how to dissuade the bad actors while at the same time not inadvertently punishing players who had legit injuries.
Come down too hard, they realized, and you could incentivize a player who does need to leave the field to play through it for fear of having to sit the following series, only to get seriously injured the following play.
Ultimately, says NCAA officiating coordinator Steve Shaw, the committee decided to play the 2020 season on the honor system while sending a sternly-worded warning to coaches.
"We're going to work with all coaches -- and maybe players -- to where they see this video and recognize that we're looking at this very closely," Shaw told ESPN, "and our expectation is that in the 2020 season feigning injuries as an issue in our game will go away, with clear expectations that if players and coaches don't take care of it, the rules committee then will have to address it and deal with it in some kind of playing time respect. That's really the only way we think we can get after it."
In the cat-and-mouse game that is football, one coach told ESPN that, as long as offenses try to wear out their counterparts with tempo, defenses won't stop wink-winking their players to take a dive -- at least not until it carries real punishment.
"Warning coaches isn't going to do anything," Mike Gundy said. "Until they say that if he's hurt then he's out for the remainder of the drive, then coaches are going to go into meetings and say, 'We have to slow their offenses down. I know the rules committee says we need to try this, but the rules committee is not paying my paycheck.'"