Football: Dykes suggests solution for injury disruptions to uptempo, no-huddle offenses

Sonny Dykes said he’d like to see the NCAA enact rules that might prevent the kind of controversy that arose Saturday, when fans at Memorial Stadium booed in response to a series of Northwestern injuries they believed were faked in order to slow Cal’s no-huddle offense.

Dykes said nothing significant was said when he shook hands after the game with Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, and he stopped short of accusing the Wildcats of unethical play.

But, he added, “I think as a coach you don’t ever want to be put into a situation where that thought even enters your mind that that’s happening.”

As more college teams challenge defenses with fast-tempo play, Dykes said a potential solution is tied to player safety.

“If (an injury) is severe enough that there’s a stoppage in play, to me the medical staff has to have time to be attentive to that student-athlete’s well-being,” he said. “I think the best way to do that is to hold them for the rest of the series, hold them for a specific allotted time frame, (or) hold them for a number of plays.

“But I do think it’s something we need to take a look at.”

Jeff Faraudo

  • NapaBear

    I was shocked by the whole fake injury stunt in the fourth quarter. I had been drinking the Northwestern purple koolaid “good school, good program” up to that point.

    As Sonny was pointing out, since there aren’t any real controls on injured players, it can make it too tempting to resist, as happened with Cal vs. Oregon a couple years ago.

    At least when Cal got called out on it, they said “oops, sorry,” paid some consequences and didn’t do it again. Fitzgerald on the other hand, went to the Lance Armstrong/ Marion Jones play book of attacking those who call them on cheating. “Anyone who questions my integrity, I question their integrity.”

    Fitzgerald went from Saint Patrick to Lance Armstrong in a purple shirt.

  • Gobears49

    I originally suggested this idea the morning after the game on the game thread. I think it is a sound idea and consistent with what I believe is at least one other rule the NCAA follows.

    I heard on the TV broadcast of the game that there is a rule that a player who loses his helmet during a play must come out of the game for the next play, even if he is not injured, presumably for safety reasons. If that is true, then consistent with that rule there should be a longer mandatory period a player should not be able to play, again for safety reasons, if a player appears to be so shaken up after a play that there is a stoppage of play by the officials or by his team, by calling a time out. I suggested that mandatory period would be the successive three plays, but other periods of time off the field could also make sense, including those suggested by Dykesm though actually I think the two other possible rules he suggested are too long of a period.

    This rule would not only protect players, if they were truly injured, even temporarily, but also penalize teams the have players fake injuries to try to slow down an uptempo offense, to give defensive players more rest between plays.

    Wonder what the NW coach thinks about this rule. My guess is that all uptempo offense teams will love it (like Oregon) and those that don’t use that type of offense will hate it.

    I guess that Sonny Dykes and I have something in common — great minds think alike.

  • Jim

    Of course they’ll hate it. Nick Saban hates the uptempo offenses now (strictly of “player safety” concerns you understand, and not because quick-snap offenses are the great equalizer against the size advantage he and other SEC schools enjoy in their front sevens, no not at all). So you can just imagine what he and Les Miles and others of their ilk would have to say if a mandatory waiting period was enacted on injured players getting back in the game that gave these offenses even more of an advantage.

  • Raf

    Agreed. Thought about this today. Two injury stoppage rules.

    1)Series Rule: As addressed above. It was so serious the guy couldn’t continue, look at him, come back next series is able. But this doesn’t fully address the faking issue; just sub in a backup and have him to down. Plus the time is still lost for that play… thus..

    2)Cart Rule: A cart will immediately be driven to injured player, for injury time out. This helps player safety, game integrity and fan viewing. God forbid the injury is serious, but having a cart with supplies immediately will help and is eventually needed anyway. Addresses non-critical injuries and faking injuries. For minor injuries(cramp, sprain) there’s no need for stretching on the field then lollygaging back to sideline. This wastes everyone’s time. Drive him off immediately and resume play. He can get treatment on side line and sits til next series.

  • wehofx

    GB49, agree.

    Also like that McCain suspension was lifted. Sounds like we got lucky w another pac 12 officiating snafu – how unusual.

    The 1 game suspension for targeting should be like the nba and the flagrant 2. Appeals can be made the following day using replay to make their case.

  • milo

    If the NBA can fine a player $5K for flopping, the NCAA can come up with a reasonable solution like holding a player for a series or set amount of time, for safety.

    Beyond that I think it’s reasonable if a team has more than X number of “flops”, the team gets a penalty flag. First 5 yards and if they do it more, they lose a timeout.

    Here’s a question for the discussion, how does or would the NFL handle this? I haven’t seen an NFL game where there’s significant flopping but there must be some rules for it.

  • Will

    The problem is determining when a player flops vs. when they’re actually hurt. We’re talking about potential injuries for college kids here – the NCAA would prefer that a few players get away with flopping than penalizing a player for flopping when they’re actually hurt.

    I like the series rule. It addresses the player safety issue, and also serves as a disincentive for players going down; knowing that they won’t be able to get back onto the field until the next drive.

  • Gobears49

    From a serious perspective —

    Absolutely hate the series rule. You have to realize that whatever rule is put in place, it applies to both offense and defense (unless it applies only to the defense, which sort of implies that the rule was put in place at least in part to penalize a defense that is faking injuries (likely stemming from the fact that they can’t handle or just weren’t trained hard enough to handle a true uptempo offense). If our QB’s head gets rung at the beginning of a series and he has to come out, HE WILL BE OUT FOR THE WHOLE SERIES. Not fair, since no QB in history has ever faked an injury. Three plays is enough, though I must admit that some teams have so much depth, especially at certain positions, that having a guy out for three plays, especially if he is not a starter, means nothing to them.

    On a lighter note —

    I like the idea of having an extra penalty if there is more than X number of injuries that require the clock to be stopped where one of those rolling beds (sometimes I am a loss for words) is not required to cart the player off.

    Say that number is ten. Once that number is reached, the whole defensive team with ten penalties must all flop backwards on the count of three, with the refs judging how well they fell on the ground together. Each ref will be given a scorecard (like in competitive diving), and if the scores don’t average an eight (or some other number), the defensive team will be penalized 50 yards the next time they have the ball. But I’m sure other people can come up with something a little more humorous than this.

  • Alaska Bear

    What was especially irritating with the game Saturday is that the same players went down multiple times. For sure, if the same player appears injured more than once, have a mandatory rest period, whether a series or not. It doesn’t seem particularly safe to allow a player to resume play who hasn’t recovered sufficiently. Either poor judgment or poor flopping.

  • Will

    Wouldn’t it be better if a QB whose bell gets rung get adequately checked out on the sideline and has all the proper tests conducted? I don’t think a series will be much longer than it takes to do all of that…

  • Gobears49

    Not absolutely sure what the definition of “series” is, but I have always understood it to mean the whole time a team has the ball on offense before they give it up, in some way (no first down, fumble lost, interception, and score). So that could be many plays, potentially way more than three. Having a QB getting his bell rung is probably not the best example of the point I am trying to make. Presumably, if a QB gets hit on the helmet, his team would keep him out for however long it takes to make sure he is OK and can safely play. That could be much longer than three plays, if three plays is the minimum time a player has to be out if play stops because he appears to be injured.

    There are, obviously, a lot of more minor injuries that occur for an offensive team, and those are the ones I am talking about. If the rule is a player has to stay out a whole series, an offensive player could be out 10 or more plays if he is injured when the drive starts. I think that is too long, especially when we know a team will generally not play a player if he has truly been injured and is not physically ready to play.

    I hope that Cal will submit a formal request to the NCAA to impose some sort of minimum waiting period as suggested in the article above about Sonny Dykes’ opinion on the subject. I am hoping they submit a three or four play minimum waiting period rule, which seems the best to me to satisfy all objectives of the need for a minimum waiting period, especially since teams will generally hold out players for longer than that if they are truly injured.

  • Make it as simple as possible. We are not concerned with serious injuries with the proposd approach being discussed. Have to believe that the team will take true injuries seriously. so for these other suspicious injuries just go with a 2 play minimum absence where there is an official’s timeout called to tend to a player. it’s one play more than the helmet rule. adjust the number upward (by rule) if there appears to be continued systematic abuse.

  • Gobears49

    It’s all judgmental, but I don’t think two plays is enough, both from a safety standpoint and a way to deter fake injuries. Personally, I like three plays, but I’m sure lots of others may differ.

    However, I think your idea of giving officials the right to raise the number of play minimum that a player could not play is a good one that should be discussed, though I hope that once that number is raised, a rule should be put in that once that number is raised (and raised again, if the officials so agree), it could not thereafter be lowered.

    The downside to even discussing the rule you propose is that, by giving officials discretion to raise the number of plays a player on a team must sit out, you are clearly putting greater emphasis on the rule being a rule to penalize a team for faking an injury as opposed to it being a safety rule. That could adversely affect whether the NCAA will agree to approve it. Presumably, raising the number of plays a player must sit out, during a game, does not make sense to preserve safety. Presumably, the original number of plays decided upon by the NCAA that an injured player must sit out should have provided for sufficient level of safety for a player.

  • 93 Bear In Oregon

    If the rationale for the rule is providing adequate time to evaluate the injury and ensure player safety, then the number of plays a downed player is required to sit out is going to be determined by how long it takes to run through basic diagnosis protocols for concussions, leg injuries, etc. Not by fans like us (who are truly more interested in preventing abuses of the rules rather than ensuring player safety) randomly throwing out an arbitrary number of plays.

    For example, the 1-play helmet-pops-off rule is there presumably because one play is enough time to check helmet straps and fix them if they’re loose. The NCAA is essentially saying ‘if the helmet comes off, you MUST go get it looked at.’

    This raises another devils-advocate point (for the record, I support Sonny’s suggestion of a longer mandatory sit-out time for stoppage-inducing injuries). Those who would oppose Dykes’ proposal however could argue that much of the diagnosis is done on the field while play is stopped, and that 3 or 4 (or more) plays on the sideline are simply not required at that point to determine whether the player can return.

  • 93 Bear In Oregon

    And one more thing: under NO circumstances should we consider giving officials the responsibility and authority to increase penalties if they perceive flopping. There are too many poor NCAA refs who already have too many things to consider. Granting them that much subjective power is a cure worse than the problem. Either institute an objective system that discourages abuse (flopping), or live with flopping.

  • BlakeStreetBear

    I like Raf’s cart rule. Everytime a player can’t leave the field (for whatever reason) the cart speeds out there, loads up the player and the game resumes quickly. Obviously for head/neck injuries they will load the player slowly like they currently do.

    Football players DO NOT like to be loaded up on the cart, it means you are either a p_ssy or you are seriously injured. Cramps do not qualify as serious and so players who get carted off because of cramping or upper body injuries are going to feel mighty stupid getting carted off when they could just walk off.

    I saw one NW player sitting on the field stopping play with what looked like a hand injury! I mean wtf? If your nail broke or whatever then run of the field like a man and don’t stop play for the other 21 “uninjured” players.

    NW will be shamed all year long and I may just go to CHI-town next season to make sure that their fans know that they won at our house in a very suspect manner. I may just fall down right before the turnstile and “cramp up” causing a long delay at the entrance, hmmm… And I expect some serious payback next year regardless – these Bears are going to VERY hungry for some midwest catmeat next time around! Go Bears!

  • Matt

    I also like Raf’s mandatory cart rule, and I’d add another part to that rule: The “injured” player not only has to be loaded onto the cart, but the cart has to then be driven off the field to the locker room and the player has to be looked at in the locker room (or if it’s a genuine injury and a serious one, a medical facility off-site). And, to ensure that the player is actually medically checked out in the locker room, the player cannot re-enter the game until at least half a quarter of clock time (7:30) has elapsed. For example, if the injury stoppage of play occurs with 9 minutes left in the fourth quarter, the player cannot reenter the game until there is 1:30 or less remaining on the game clock.

  • Gobears49

    1. 93Bear —

    My suggested three play rule is the MINIMUM period a player must sit out after an injury. Of course, if a team thinks a player needs to attended to for MORE than three plays, they can take as much time (and plays) as they want to do that.

    2. Mandatory cart rule —

    Seems to way too much of an overkill for most injuries, and also a bit laughable (reminds me of the keystone cops), but if it can be shown to speed up, on average, the time the next play can get off, I think it should be considered.

    3. Officials having the discretional power to Increase the amount of minimum plays a player must stay on the sideline if they perceive “flopping” or too much “flopping.” —

    Seems contradictory to the argument that the prime reason for the mandatory three plays on the sideline rule is for safety purposes, as increasing during a game the number of plays required to be on the sideline has nothing to do with safety. I do agree that giving officials that sort of discretion could be dangerous, but also increasing the sideline time based upon a specific number of prior game injuries would be worse, since all the prior injuries up to that point in the game could be legit. Probably best to take small steps on this rule, and see how a simple single rule works out before trying to adjust it for varying situations.

  • milo

    The NFL warns teams not to flop: http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/09/05/nfl-warns-teams-not-to-fake-injuries/

    My guess is once the NFL officiating figures out how to handle this and makes a rule probably next season), the NCAA will follow a couple years later.

  • SteveNTexas

    None of us liked this but the more we discuss it the more we may tell ourselves “had it not been for this we may have won”. We were beaten fairly soundly at home -let’s move on and hope we have an improved team for our next real challenge ( not Portland State).

  • Gobears49

    Nothing wrong with saying “had it not been for this we may have won.” With the “may” in it it is not a false statement and I can’t see how it affects Cal’s football team going forward. But the game did end on a sour note with us giving up a touchdown at the end. Not as much fight to the end as I would have wanted.

    I hope Cal submits some sort of proposed rule change on this, perhaps enlisting other schools to join them, as flopping hurts college football and is a total distraction from the game itself. It makes a joke of the game.