A while back I wrote about (disapprovingly) a trick play at a middle school football game in Texas wherein the defense was deceived by Driscoll Middle School into thinking that play had not started yet. When I talked to my family about it, we all agreed that it would probably be a cold day in hell before anyone got tricked like that again. Then, at the state high school championship no less, in Texas no less, a trick play of a similar type by the Pearland Oilers resulted in a touchdown.

Here is what I wrote about the first incident:

As cute as the high middle school play shown above is, it creates a similar problem. In the event that there is any sort of confusion, what should the defensive players do? If they’re wrong in one direction, it’s a touchdown. If they’re wrong in the other direction, it’s a 15-yard penalty (and possible ejection from the game). Ultimately, it’s not just a trick play, it’s a bad-faith play. A few of the articles talking about the play are saying that it’s a play you only get away with once. Maybe. And maybe some kid will get tackled because some defensive lineman thinks that play has started. In this case, the player walked past the defenders, but next time he may just start walking to the sideline with the ball. Maybe he will genuinely be confused. Maybe not. When there’s not a clear indication of what the defense is supposed to be doing, it’s a recipe for potential problems.

While Texas middle school and Texas high school apparently have no accounting for this type of trickery, college football does:

For those of you that don’t want to watch the video, what basically happens is that the BYU QB looks like he’s going to call an audible, meanwhile the center snaps it to the running-back. The end result was the invocation of a rule “Attempt to Deceive,” which sounds like a catch-all “cut that crap out” policy.

I actually find this less objectionable than the above examples for three reasons. First, I have higher expectations at the collegiate level on knowing what’s going on. Second, it was pretty clearly a snap and snap means go (the same is true of the Pearland example, which I cut more slack than the Driscoll one). Third, the Air Force defense wasn’t actually fooled. Maybe confused for a moment, but not fooled. That being said, I can appreciate an attempt to say “Let’s stick to straightforward football, please.”

I will also note that BYU did this in a game that they were leading 31-7 in the third quarter. Not exactly classy. They won 38-24.

Category: Theater

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3 Responses to HCW: Trickeration

  1. Kevin says:


    Rarely do I agree with you so thoroughly. The college play should be allowed, but that sort of trickery should not take place at the middle school level. Your point about defenses’ uncertainty is an excellent one.

  2. trumwill says:

    Rarely do I agree with you so thoroughly.

    Well that’s a backhanded compliment if I ever heard one. 🙂

    Anyhow, the more I think about it, the more I think BYU is in the right here (even if a classless move, under the circumstances). AFA wasn’t fooled so much as they were caught off-guard with who had the ball. Playing “who has the ball” is fair game.

  3. Abel says:

    A neighbor of mine refs high school and college (Big Sky) football games. I haven’t heard him say anything about the BYU play in question, but in the past he’s said that aside from hiding the ball under your shirt, the offense can do pretty much anything to deceive the defense. My gut says he’d have a problem with the refs’s call.

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