If you liked Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett’s fake slide on the way to a 58-yard touchdown run in the ACC championship game last week, you’ll need to savor it, because you’re not going to see it again.
The NCAA has ruled that, effective immediately, “any time a ball carrier begins, simulates, or fakes a feet-first slide, the ball should be declared dead by on the field officials at that point. The intent of the rule is player safety, and the objective is to give the ball carrier an option to end the play by sliding feet first and to avoid contact.”
That makes plenty of sense, and it was why Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson was so frustrated by Pickett’s fake slide. As Clawson noted, defenders are taught that once they see a quarterback start to slide, they need to back off because hitting someone who’s sliding draws a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness.
Philosophically, Clawson was obviously correct, but you also couldn’t blame Pickett for exploiting a loophole in the rules. It’s kind of surprising that it took this long for that to happen, but now the loophole is closed so it won’t happen again.
That’s not exactly comforting for Wake Forest, but it also isn’t as if a touchdown 78 seconds into the game was decisive. The Demon Deacons drove right back down the field after Pickett’s run for a tying touchdown, took a 21-14 lead by the end of the first quarter, and then didn’t score again as Pitt ran up 31 unanswered points to win its first ACC title.
The Panthers face Michigan State in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 30, while Wake Forest, which last won the ACC in 2006, wound up getting a Gator Bowl matchup with Texas A&M on New Year’s Eve.
Former Browns and Raiders coach Hue Jackson getting the Grambling State job is one of the more enjoyable hires of this coaching cycle, getting a chance to return to coaching that’s long overdue.
Jackson only got the one year in Oakland, where he went 8-8, then presided over 1-15 and 0-16 seasons in Cleveland, with a 2-5-1 record in his third season before getting fired. As much as someone could go 3-36-1 and have it feel like they got a bum deal, that was Jackson: the Browns were always tanking those first two years, finally got Baker Mayfield to be their quarterback, and after eight games into Mayfield’s rookie season — four of which went to overtime, including two of the losses — Jackson got canned.
This past season, Jackson was the offensive coordinator at Tennessee State for first-year coach Eddie George. It was the first full season of work Jackson had since Cleveland, with his only other gig in the interim a special assistant position in the final two months of Marvin Lewis’ tenure with the Bengals.
Anyway, just thinking about all the NFL coordinator jobs that Marty Mornhinweg and Rod Marinelli got after they left the Lions, and the future jobs that Dan Campbell will get after the Lions fire him, and how Gregg Williams became Jets defensive coordinator right after his stint as the interim coach in Cleveland when Jackson was fired, and Freddy Kitchens getting hired and fired in Cleveland after that and immediately landing with the Giants where he’s now the interim offensive coordinator, and… it’s all probably just an oopsie that Jackson couldn’t immediately start working his way back up. It’s good that he’s back in the game.