The rules of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) are always changing and sometimes, it can be tricky to keep up with these rule changes in between each game.
However, you may have heard about a very big rule change that has occurred recently that sparked a lot of talk.
This rule change regards fake slides – so, can you still fake a slide in college American football games?
What Is A Fake Slide In American Football?
A slide in American football is a use that quarterbacks make to defend themselves against other defensive players on the opposing team such as linebackers or defensive backs.
To do a slide, the quarterback will run with the ball and then start to slow down and straighten their posture.
The quarterback will then drop and slide forward feet first onto their side or back as a sign that they are conceding play.
The rules are then that the defensive players on the opposing team cannot tackle or make any contact with the quarterback because they are conceding play.
If they do, then the defensive player could possibly be ejected from the field or face a 15 yard roughness penalty for their actions. Because of this, many defending players will let up and allow the quarterback to slide.
A fake slide is a rare move when the quarterback starts to prepare for a slide, signalling to the defending players that they are about to slide and thus they cannot be tackled or physically contacted.
The defending players will then drop their guard and before they know it, the quarterback picks up their pace and runs right past them.
A fake slide is a sneaky move that many football fans consider cheating because it puts the defending players in a tough situation – do they still go in for the tackle and risk the foul, or allow the player to ‘slide’ and risk the chance of them faking it?
Because of this, it’s rare that any quarterback would ever try the fake slide because of the uncertainty regarding the rules and the doubt over whether the referee will call it foul play or allow the move to slide by the rulebook.
That is – until December 4th, 2021.
The Fake Slide Controversy
On December 4th, 2021, the 2021 ACC Championship Game was held at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The two teams were the PIttsburgh Panthers against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and both were hoping to take away the victory.
However, in the first drive, a quarterback for the Pittsburgh Panthers scored a touchdown on a fifty eight yard run.
During the run, the quarterback dipped their knee and slowed down their pace, indicating to the oncoming defending Wake Forest players that they were about to slide.
As usual, the defenders did not tackle, but the quarterback did not slide – they kept running right on until the touchdown.
The quarterback player was Kenny Pickett, who was playing in his final year of eligibility for the league and was agreed to be one of the nation’s best players.
In a later interview, he said that the fake slide was intentional and that while slowing down and getting ready to slide, he read the body language of the defending players and saw an opportunity to run through for the touchdown.
The Pittsburgh Panthers went on to win the game – but many were split over Pickett’s controversial move.
Some claimed that the move was clever but it also exposed a loophole in the NCAA’s rules that needed addressing. This is because in that second, the defending players could not have made a correct manoeuvre.
If they continued defending, Pickett would have slid and they would have been punished – but because they chose not to, Pickett ran right through.
Pickett’s fake slide won the Pittsburgh Panthers the victory, so it’s no surprise that many college football fans were left with a sour taste in their mouths.
Can You Fake Slide In The NCAA?
A week after Pickett’s fake slide in North Carolina, the NCAA Rules Committee made an important change to the rule book regarding fake slides. As of December 10th, 2021, fake slides were now banned in the NCAA.
A new clause was added stating that any time a player carrying the ball began or stimulated a feet first slide, the ball would be declared dead.
Previously, the ball would be declared dead when the player or ball hit the ground, which is why Pickett’s fake slide was allowed during the Championship game.
This new rule change meant that fake slides were not completely banned because the ball would be declared dead from the moment the player ‘faked’ a slide. It has since been dubbed the ‘Kenny Pickett’ rule.
The reason behind this change was for ‘player safety’ as it now gives the player carrying the ball to end play without contact.
Now, defenders would no longer be forced to make contact just to ensure the ball would be declared dead rather than risk the chance that the quarterback was faking a slide.
For many years, fake slides were a legal but controversial move in NCAA football.
Some saw them as dangerous because it would force a defending player to try and contact a player without knowing if they were actually conceding play or just trying to sneak past the defence.
However, there was no rule actually addressing fake slides – until the controversial Kenny Pickett fake slide in the Championship game in 2021.
Finally, the NCAA rules committee addressed fake slides and now made them illegal.
The moment a player initiated a slide (including a fake one) the ball would be declared dead. So, this means that fake slides are a thing of the past in NCAA football.
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