- Ted Miller, ESPN Staff Writer
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Did I just hurt myself, or am I faking it? Hard to say.
That's a topic Oregon fans are obsessing about this season: Opponent's defenses are apparently faking injuries in order to force the fast-paced Ducks offense to stop while that player is helped off the field.
And then said player returns -- apparently after a miraculous recovery -- either one or two plays later.
First, Oregon fans do need to hear this: Yes, you are correct. Teams are faking injuries. Without a question.
While there's video from the California game that many Ducks fans find most damning -- and hilarious -- my favorite continues to be what I suspect was a purposely poor acting job from Stanford linebacker Chase Thomas that -- again, I suspect -- was intended to goad the crowd at Autzen Stadium.
Oregon coach Chip Kelly mostly danced around the topic during the Tuesday Pac-10 coaches call.
"We don't talk about it. If the league wants to look into stuff like that, that's their problem. That's not coming from me," he said. "Obviously you don't know when a player is really injured and not injured. I don't know really what can be done about it."
And that is the issue: Little can be done. Wrote Pac-10 vice president of communications, Dave Hirsch, "Officials cannot decide if someone is faking an injury or not."
Don't think for a second Kelly isn't bothered by this. We've all seen him wildly gesticulating on the sidelines and yelling at officials about apparently fake injuries during games. We've heard his halftime quips, such as when he noted at Arizona State, "It's kind of like a World Cup game with this crowd. And the injuries." Kelly was referring to the diva bad acting you often see in soccer games in order to draw yellow and red cards.
When a questioner who operates a Washington Huskies fan website asked if the booing from Oregon fans was poor sportsmanship, Kelly allowed his true feelings to show.
"I know what our fans reaction is when he's carted off the field and he looks like he's going to surgery, and then he's back immediately the next play," he said.
Cal coach Jeff Tedford was asked directly about whether his team faked injuries during the game Saturday.
"People get hurt during games, and in fast-tempo stuff, there's cramps," he said. "That's not the deal. I know that anytime anybody goes down against Oregon, they always think that's the case. But it's not the case."
Tedford is typically a straight-shooter. But not in this case. Defensive tackle Aaron Tipoti's cramp from nowhere that appeared immediately after he took a long look at the Cal sidelines is going to to earn him the Pac-10 blog's Worst Actor award.
While there's little that can be done about opponent's faking injuries, Kelly did note that as far as strategies go, it's a weak one.
"You basically have thrown up a white flag and said you can't play at our pace," he said. "Do you really want to say you can't play at this level of football that we're playing?"
The Ducks are off this weekend. They play Arizona on Nov. 26. Wildcats coach Mike Stoops was asked if he has any opinion on faking injuries to slow Oregon down.
"I've never even seen it so I wouldn't even know what you are talking about," he said. "I don't know what that is. That's not something we use as part of our game plan."
We shall see.