The NCAA intends to stop the fake slide that Kenny Pickett, the Pittsburgh quarterback used to score a touchdown in the ACC championship game.
On the first possession of the Panthers’ 45-21 ACC title win over Wake Forest, the quarterback made a fake slide move to freeze defenders and run for a 58-yard touchdown.
NCAA national coordinator of officials Steve Shaw wrote a memo which says that referees should interpret a fake slide as a player surrendering himself and should end the play.
“Any time a ball carrier begins, simulates, or fakes a feet-first slide, the ball should be declared dead by the on field officials at that point. The intent of the rule is player safety, and the objective is to give a ball carrier an option to end the play by sliding feet first and to avoid contact. To allow the ball carrier to fake a slide would compromise the defense that is being instructed to let up when the ball carrier slides feet first,” the memo stated.
After the game, the ACC Player of the Year said that the move was intentional but unplanned. “I just kind of started slowing down and pulling up and getting ready to slide, and I just kind of saw their body language and they just pulled up as well. I have never done that before. I just kind of kept going after I initially started to slide,” Pickett said.
In an email written by Shaw to The Associated Press, he said that a rule change was not needed and a new rule was not implemented, adding that the change is a new interpretation of the existing rules regarding when to call a play dead.
“I know people think the rule book covers every imaginable scenario, but it does not. In a season I will typically have one, two or maybe three of what we call play interpretations,” Shaw wrote in that email, adding that ‘it just usually doesn’t happen this publicly.’
Dave Clawson, Wake Forest coach, questioned the rule after their loss by saying the NCAA needed to review whether such a play is legal.
“If that is the rule, I will just have my guy fake knee all the way down the field, and really, what do you do? So it’s something the NCAA is going to have to look at and, you know, you can’t fake a slide,” Clawson said.