Very interesting back-and-forth between Washington's Steve Sarkisian and Stanford's David Shaw on Saturday night and continuing into Tuesday. (Jon Wilner breaks it down here: http://www.mercurynews.com/sports/ci_24265352)
Sarkisian accused Stanford of faking injuries on defense to slow down Washington's uptempo attack and Shaw fired back by saying the charge was completely off-base, that it was unprofessional of Sarkisian to make it and that you didn't see Stanford complaining about anything after it lost to Washington last year.
Whew, pretty heated stuff.
As others have pointed out, you can't help but notice echoes of another similarly located coaching rivalry: Jim Harbaugh vs. Pete Carroll.
Of course Shaw was on Harbaugh's staff at Stanford and Sarkisian was on Carroll's staff at USC when the Harbaugh-Carroll thing was just starting (and at it's hottest).
It's always entertaining when two good, ultra-competitive coaches — and good teams — have a bit of a personal rivalry going. Certainly makes things interesting, for us and, I'd imagine, for them, too.
Shaw and Sarkisian don't seem like overly combative guys, but every good coach has some inner-Harbaugh in him, and I think both men realize that neither wants to be seen backing down from anything.
In fact, both men want to be seen as provoking some of this. It's not a bad thing. Players rally around it, so do fan bases, as long as it doesn't get too nutty.
Harbaugh vs. Carroll is about the best rivalry going in football right now and both men know it. So why not some Shaw vs. Sarkisian, with both programs running along at full-throttle?
Makes the next game very interesting. And the next one, and the next one, and maybe the next several will occur in the NFL, like another rivalry we've followed.
But can I be the sane person here and point out that it's likely both men have a point in this case?
-It's possible and not illegal for defensive coaches to suggest to their players that, against an offense determined to take advantage of any defensive lull, if they are slightly dinged up they should fall to the ground (and stop play and slow down the offense);
-And it's possible Shayne Skov and a few other Cardinal defenders WERE hurt when they stopped play vs. Washington, just not enough to keep them out for very long after the mandatory 1 play rest.
-Against a normal-paced offense, dinged up defensive players probably have 15 to 20 seconds to decide if they should come off the field or not; against a speed-tempo team, they probably have 3-5 seconds, so if you're encouraged to lean towards stopping play if it's a close call, that's understandable in a 3-5-second window;
-That's not cheating; it's a matter of degrees;
-It is logical for the offensive coaches to be upset by the strategy, because it is borderline unethical (depending on the extent of the injury or the level of acting involved in the falling to the ground or the amount of times players do actually fall to the ground to stop play);
-Sarkisian saw Skov and others drop down, stop play, and then come back after a few plays, and again, it's understandable that he didn't like that, especially with Washington on the move and Stanford's D in retreat for much of the game;
-Again, it's a matter of degrees;
-It is extremely logical that the coach of the defensive players would not be happy if his team is accused of cheating if indeed his staff is only making sure his players take the time allowed to them to decide if they're hurt;
-It's not cheating and it's not illogical and it's not wrong. It's just competitive nature, and it's a gray area, for both sides, admittedly, but gray areas are hard to debate coolly.
Sorry if that all sounds too logical. This is fun no matter what.