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17 Oct 2006

Confessions of a Football Junkie: Road Trip Report

by Russell Levine

I generally get one Michigan road trip per season. That's the standing agreement that helps maintain family harmony in my house. Three weeks ago, I attended the Michigan-Wisconsin game in Ann Arbor, hung out with old friends, and generally was unkind to my liver.

So what was I doing in Happy Valley Saturday evening?

First of all, my wife is a saint. She understands my sickness. She even kept a straight face when I invoked the "national championship implications corollary" to justify a second road trip this season. It was the first chance I'd had to break that one out since the arrival of kids generally curtailed my Michigan travels.

There were a lot of reasons I didn't want to miss this game. For one, State College, a four-hour drive from my New Jersey home, is about as close as the Wolverines ever come to me. It was a night game, with an atmosphere that promised to put the typical polite gatherings at Michigan Stadium to shame. Plus, it's Penn State, far and away my favorite road trip in the Big Ten, or anywhere for that matter.

State College is serious nowhere-ville. It pops up as an exit off Intersate 80 after 200 miles of farms, not a significant town anywhere in site. If you head anywhere near it on a home football Saturday, you'll get caught up in the RV caravan. Southerners may have invented the football RV caravan, but nobody does it quite like Penn State. About every fifth vehicle on the road on Friday was an RV with some sort of Penn State adornment.

The parking lots outside Beaver Stadium appear to go on for miles in every direction. It's RVs as far as the eye can see. The attendance for Saturday night's game was 110,000, but there has to be two or three times that number in the lots in the hours leading up to kickoff.

In Ann Arbor, a big game generates some buzz and there's plenty of tailgating. But there are also plenty of people in and around town with no connection to the university and no reason to care about the game. In State College, everyone cares, and most of them wear their team gear from the time they arrive in town until the moment they leave.

They're also unfailingly good-natured, which is the main reason I try never to miss a Penn State trip. Penn State fans are as good a bunch as you'll find. When you wear your visiting team colors around town or to the game, you're just as likely to get welcomed as you are to get harassed. And even when somebody does give you a hard time, it's usually with a laugh and followed with an offer of good luck or congratulations following the game.

The atmosphere in the stadium was outstanding, despite the over-reliance on canned sound effects (Zombie Nation? Guns n' Roses? Blur's Song #2? Was I at a Jets game?), the students were tremendous, standing the entire game in their "white out" and sticking it out to the very end. When they were loud, they were deafening.

As for the game itself, I wasn't at all bothered by the closeness of the final score. Despite the seven-point margin of victory, this was a physical mugging and a dominant display by the Michigan front seven. The totals included seven sacks, -14 yards rushing (in college, yardage lost on sacks counts against the team's rushing total), and two quarterbacks concussed. Even when Penn State had a chance to tie in the final minute, I never felt threatened.

Offensively, the fear from the Michigan side was that the Wolverines would go into a conservative shell without Mario Manningham at receiver. Instead, Michigan came with one of its most aggressive gameplans of the year, consistently bucking its tendency by throwing on first down. They didn't throw downfield much, but they were aggressive enough to pass Penn State out of some of the eight-man fronts that slowed the running game early.

Nine years ago, Michigan was enjoying a nice season when it went to play undefeated and third-ranked Penn State. After a 34-8 thrashing, Michigan left Happy Valley with the top spot in the AP poll secured and would go on to win a share of the national championship.

This game was obviously much closer on the scoreboard, and this Penn State team is not as good as the 1997 version, but still this game had a similar feel to it. It served as a statement of Michigan's intentions to play for more than just the Big Ten title this season.

Michigan and Ohio State are each four wins away from what could be one of the most-anticipated regular-season games in college football history. Historic rivals, potentially meeting as the top two teams in the polls, with a trip to the national-title game at stake. The Columbus Police Department is stocking up on pepper spray as we speak.

* * *

Elsewhere Saturday, there were two big storylines: the officiating in the Florida-Auburn game and the brawl between Miami and Florida International.

It continues to amaze me that the replay officials in college football simply don't know their own rule book. This is why I advocate having the on-field referee serve as the replay official as in the NFL.

The play in which Florida's Chris Leak "fumbled" to kill a potential scoring drive is not even up for debate. It surprises me that TV commentators and message board posters continue to do just that. The rule on forward passes in college football is exactly the same as in the NFL. That is, the rulebook says only that the forward motion of the arm makes it a forward pass. Here's the exact passage from the book:

b. When a Team A player is holding the ball to pass it forward toward the neutral zone, any intentional forward movement of his arm starts the forward pass. If a Team B player contacts the passer or ball after forward movement begins and the ball leaves the passer's hand, a forward pass is ruled regardless of where the ball strikes the ground or a player (A.R. 2-19-2-I).

c. When in question, the ball is passed and not fumbled during an attempted forward pass.

There is no reason for the on-field or replay officials to judge Chris Leak's intent. That leak was pump-faking or attempting to pull the ball down matters not at all. His arm was going forward so this is an incomplete pass. Case closed. If replay officials can't overturn that call, there's no point in having them.

As for the fracas in Miami, enough people have already gotten on their soapboxes about that one. I will say this. If you haven't had a chance to hear Lamar Thomas's color commentary on the Miami telecast, in which he offers such pearls of wisdom as "That's what I'm talking about," do so now before it gets yanked by the YouTube police. It has already been announced that Thomas's commentary will be edited out when the game is re-broadcast later this week, and Thomas was fired Monday night.

It will be very interesting to see how this situation develops over the next few days. It's pretty apparent that the FIU administration is not happy. Late Monday, it was announced that two players who had earlier been suspended for one game would be dismissed from the team and that the other 16 that had been suspended would have their bans extended indefinitely.

With the ball back in Miami's court, UM announced that Anthony Reddick, who was seen using his helmet as a weapon in the fight's early stages, would be suspended indefinitely and that the school would continue to consider its options. It sounds to me like Miami president Donna Shalala has her finger up in the air and is trying to gauge the winds of public opinion on this one. As of Monday night, Shalala was claiming to be satisfied with the suspensions. My guess is that the she will end up similarly throwing the book at several more players, including Brandon Meriweather, seen repeatedly stomping on the legs of an FIU player.

John L. Smith Trophy

The Seventh Day Adventure commenters made this one easy for me. I didn't see a whole lot of football Saturday, owning to the fact that I spent much of the afternoon wading among the RVs outside Beaver Stadium. Arizona State's Dirk Koetter is the obvious winner, electing to punt on fourth-and-28 when trailing USC by seven points in the final two minutes. USC was able to run out the clock without even getting to fourth down.

Koetter, who's in danger of getting fired after the season anyway, earns an obvious JLS award for failing basic math and for quitting on his team. Was he hoping a seven-point loss would help his job security more than a 14-point one?

BlogPoll Ballot

This season, I'll again be voting in the BlogPoll, hosted by MGoBlog. I'll post my ballot in Junkie each week. Feel free to comment -- my rankings may change based upon your suggestions.

This is probably the trickiest ballot of the year. I'm not sure Arkansas deserves to be ranked that high, but I feel comfortable about Florida and Auburn belonging where they do, and Arkansas's win over Auburn makes it tough to put the Hogs any lower.

Rank Team Delta
1 Ohio State --
2 Michigan 1
3 Southern Cal 1
4 West Virginia 1
5 Louisville 1
6 Texas 1
7 Clemson 1
8 Arkansas 4
9 Auburn 4
10 Florida 8
11 Tennessee 2
12 California 2
13 Notre Dame 2
14 Georgia Tech --
15 LSU 2
16 Nebraska 1
17 Boise State 1
18 Oregon 2
19 Boston College 7
20 Oklahoma 3
21 Rutgers 3
22 Wisconsin 4
23 Pittsburgh 3
24 Texas A&M 2
25 Wake Forest 1

Dropped Out: Iowa (#16), Missouri (#19), Virginia Tech (#21), Georgia (#22), Washington (#25).

Posted by: Russell Levine on 17 Oct 2006

68 comments, Last at 19 Oct 2006, 12:42am by NewsToTom

Comments

1
by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 1:35am

It's really unimportant, but Arizona State had a 4th and 22 when they punted, not 4th and 28. That just makes the decision even worse.

I hope Miami doesn't just suspended players for one game, which would be a non-punishment, given that next week's opponent is Duke.

2
by Eric (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 1:45am

Speaking as an OU fan, why does OU move up in the rankings after losing Peterson for the season?

3
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 2:20am

Re #2
Because Iowa, Missouri, Virginia Tech, and Georgia all lost and dropped out of the rankings.

4
by chris (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 2:49am

To continue the "Da U"-FIU thread from SDAdventure comments (RE: 153), I have mixed feelings on the culpability of coaches when these things flair up.

Not to get soapbox-y, but at what point do coaches take responsibility beyond the Xs and Os? For the salaries these guys command, I hear a lot of passing of the buck.

When player is obviously on the take (USC), getting illegally tutored (Kansas) or when a time-bomb of a player takes the life of another (Arizona State), I can humor coaches with the "you can't babysit them 24 hours a day" rhetoric.

But how about babysitting your charges for three friggin hours a week? You have coaches who can't convince players that it hurts the team when they do those leaps into the end zone for touchdown. (Played out like the jheri curl.) Mere field position in some cases; for Adrian Peterson, it's a season.

When your team is almost guaranteed to make personal fouls or unsportsmanlike penalties, isn't that a symptom of incompetence?

5
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 2:52am

My cynical self strongly suspects that if a non-revenue-producing team at Miami had engaged in the behavior, Shalala might force them to forfeit the balance of the schedule, or at least hand out several year-long suspensions. Too much money is at risk, however, for Shalala to set forth penalties which are consistent with the gravity of the wrongdoing.

6
by chris (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 8:13am

Will, lemme out-cynic you on this one. Between the boundaries of failing to field a team and limiting penalties to one game, Shalala has a lot of room to work with while avoiding a stink.

If she decides to can the coach and AD, it's not any different than what she might have done at the end of the season, especially in the case of Coker.

Same thing with the players. If she suspends them for the rest of the season, who cares if it hurts the bowl hopes or whether the players feel as if they've been thrown under the bus? Miami gets the same amount of bowl money as Duke, and if the players have hurt feelings, new coaching staffs usually produce attrition anyway.

Worst-case scenario, you're talking about three weeks worth of bowl practices working with a system you won't be using in 2007.

The prez gets to look like a hardass while not losing a whole lot.

7
by Pete (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 8:35am

Florida-Auburn: Excellent point. I don't think it could be successfully argued that his hand was not moving forward. However, I don't think a resulting field goal would have won Florida the game.

Chris Leak has difficulty dealing with pressure and Auburn made good adjustments to pressure him more in the second half. Also important was that Chris Leak took a big hit on that option play. After this he was obviously more nervous about getting hit (as he has been since he took a beating from FSU his Freshman year). He hardly completed a pass after that.

Meyer's play-calling also became much more predictable on Offense, while Auburn really took advantage of Florida's prevent defense.

Is it just me or does Florida give 1 or 2 receivers a guaranteed 5+ yard pass every play (and usually 3+ YAC)? An opposing team can do this every down and guarantee getting into the red zone as Auburn did. This style of defense has cost Florida a lot of points since Stoops left and I do not believe it is a winning option.

8
by Sam! (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 9:29am

It is amazing to me to see how terrible Chris Leak is at dealing with pressure and the blitz. When a corner or linebacker blitzes, he rarely his the hot route. Pressure from the front side, he rarely throws it away or steps up to take the sack... he either stands there and gets hit, or backpedals, taking a bigger sack. This kid is a freaking senior!

I can't stand the fact that if he throws incomplete on third down, you can often see him kind of smirking, or smiling lightly and shaking it off as we walks to the sidelines. I want to see him pissed off! I want to see him upset with himself! This "Aw shucks. We'll do better next time. If we lose, we'll just do better next game" attitude is unacceptable to me.

If Leak doesn't want to get it, maybe he should play a different sport. Maybe golf. A stoic, unexpressive demeanor is slightly more appropriate there. Then it can be all about him and his records. Give me a quarterback who is more concerned with winning than getting a boo-boo on his arm.

9
by low4 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 10:10am

I recall an instance from the Iowa-Syracuse game earlier this year that illustrates the incomplete pass rule: Syracuse's QB was scrambling to avoid pressure, and in so doing, looped his arm up and forward to avoid the helmet of an Iowa player. He lost the ball and Iowa recovered in Syracuse territory. The QB was no more trying to attempt a forward pass than make pancakes. However, the officials on review ruled it an incompletion because his arm was moving forward, pass attempt or not. I was infuriated at the time, but it was the correct call, by the letter of the rule.

10
by DB (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 10:12am

RE #4 : I'm pretty sure Peterson was tripped as he was going into the endzone. It wasn't a showy dive.

11
by kibbles (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 10:25am

Russ, the Florida/Auburn call is actually *MUCH, MUCH* worse than that. You're absolutely right that even if that were the end of it, it would have been a horrible call... but that's not the whole story.

Click on my name. Look at the picture attached to the story. The ball had *LEFT LEAK'S HAND* before the Auburn defender ever even got a piece of it. There was no contact that brought the ball out. Let me repeat this- the Auburn defender didn't get a piece of the ball until AFTER it had left Leak's hand.

Now, of course, you could say that it would be hard to expect a replay official to pick up on that, since it took a freeze-frame photograph to notice it... but you'd be wrong. The camera angle from behind the play CLEARLY and CONCLUSIVELY showed that the ball as out of Leak's hand before the defender got a piece of it. The replay official might have noticed this... if he'd actually reviewed the play. The entire replay, from challenge to announcement, took one minute and six seconds. TOTAL. That means that the official probably only looked at the play for 30 seconds or so. That's looking at three camera angles one time each without doing any of the slowing, stopping, and going back to determine just what happened. It was the shoddiest and most slap-dash review I've ever seen. Heck, even if he'd been paying attention- I saw on my 17" TV screen that the ball was out before the Auburn defender touched it on the very first replay from behind. Surely, a trained professional should have seen the same thing as an armchair QB standing around watching the replay ONCE on a 17" kitchen TV.

But wait, there's more. The review was never actually called- Meyer had to burn a timeout to challenge that play. The SEC has gone on record that Meyer never should have had to burn a timeout for that play, that the replay official should have immediately seen that the play was (a) close and (b) HUGELY GAMECHANGING and, you know... done his job and reviewed it.

That entire sequence of events was absolutely LUDICROUS. Florida should have had the lead and an extra timeout. Instead, they lost the ball, lost long chunks of clock, lost their field position, and lost their timeout.

Re #7: Florida-Auburn: Excellent point. I don’t think it could be successfully argued that his hand was not moving forward. However, I don’t think a resulting field goal would have won Florida the game.

Oh? Why not? Auburn's offense didn't score a single point during the entire second half, and only got a trio of field goals in the first half. I think it's not only possible, but plausible that Florida would manage to keep Auburn off the board after taking the lead.

Re #8: It is amazing to me to see how terrible Chris Leak is at dealing with pressure and the blitz. When a corner or linebacker blitzes, he rarely his the hot route. Pressure from the front side, he rarely throws it away or steps up to take the sack… he either stands there and gets hit, or backpedals, taking a bigger sack. This kid is a freaking senior!

I can’t stand the fact that if he throws incomplete on third down, you can often see him kind of smirking, or smiling lightly and shaking it off as we walks to the sidelines. I want to see him pissed off! I want to see him upset with himself! This “Aw shucks. We’ll do better next time. If we lose, we’ll just do better next game� attitude is unacceptable to me.

If Leak doesn’t want to get it, maybe he should play a different sport. Maybe golf. A stoic, unexpressive demeanor is slightly more appropriate there. Then it can be all about him and his records. Give me a quarterback who is more concerned with winning than getting a boo-boo on his arm.

Out of curiousity, how many Florida games have you seen? Because I would say that facing the blitz is actually one of Leak's biggest strengths. He has the poise to stand around in the pocket, knowing full well that he's about to get leveled, and deliver a huge completion on 3rd down. I've frequently said that there isn't a QB in all of college football that I'd rather have under center on 3rd and long. He unravelled at the end of the Auburn game, but one bad half doesn't negate an otherwise strong year.

Also, if you think he's stoic and unemotional, you haven't seen very many games. For the most part he is pretty stoic, but every so often he'll just break out into this huge emotional outburst. I've seen him leap several feet into the air and do the fist pump after a huge run. I've seen him mob his receivers after touchdowns. I've even seen him slapping his lineman's helmet after a huge block. I also know how much work he puts into football, and how passionate he is about this team.

Is he generally stoic? Yeah, he's a very introverted guy. Just because he's introverted doesn't mean he doesn't care. Lots of people are introverts, and there's nothing in the rulebooks against playing football if you're one of them.

12
by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 10:32am

Not trying to be snarky (I'm honestly trying to understand this), but if Michigan and OSU both beat up on everyone, and are undefeated but for their meeting, and if there's another undefeated team, does the fact that they played in the regular season (and therefore got a loss) preclude them from playing for the championship? I understand it's a poll/machine thing, but it seems to me that if Michigan is too close to USC, and Michigan loses to OSU, they'd get bumped out of the championship consideration even though they're better.

If that is how it works, that seems a bit silly to me.

13
by DB (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 10:48am

RE #12 : That's correct, Fnor. The idea there, I think, is that the Michigan/Ohio State game has already "proven" which one of those teams is better. So the winner would then play another undefeated team to crown a "champion". What should be noted, however, is that in most years, all you get is a #1 team - no one can say who #2 or #3 is. In this case #2 might be USC, it might be the OSU/Michigan loser.

14
by the fumble (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 10:48am

Thanks for the kind words about State College. The tailgate was great, wish we could've made it more of a game though. Perhaps Tom Bradley read this site last week when you mentioned Chad Henne's success with the deep pass. If I see us playing soft coverage and giving up easy slant patterns underneath anymore, I'm gonna scream. Wait, check that, already did, lost my voice. Seriously though, our offense just isn't good enough right now to threaten a team of Michigan's caliber.

15
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 10:48am

There was a similar play in the KSU-Nebraska game. The KSU quarterback was sacked and lost the ball. The commentators spent all their time talking about whether it was a fumble or not, when it was obviously a) an incomplete pass that was b) intercepted. Fortunately, the officials got the call right.

16
by turgy22 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 10:57am

Russ,
Glad you had a great time in State College. Considering we lost our top 2 quarterbacks, I was pretty proud of how well Penn State played. Right now, I'd say Michigan is the best team in the nation - easily having the best front seven - and to still be in the game with a chance to tie it up with our career backup 3rd string quarterback, made me very proud of how well the players came together and never quit.

Also, I have to give props to the Michigan fans. Most of them were stationed a few sections over from me, and they were great. The Big House has a reputation for being a quiet venue, but the fans who traveled to see the game were standing the whole time, had great unity and really showed their school spirit. I could do without the taunting after the game, but it was probably deserved.

So congratulations on the win. Hope you can make the trip again in 2 years, but with a different result on the field, of course.

17
by Russell Levine :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 11:07am

Re: 15

What's worse about that article you linked to kibbles is that THE SEC OFFICIALS ARE STILL DEBATING LEAK'S INTENT!!!!!!

Why, oh why, isn't anyone calling them on this. Yes, Leak was probably pulling the ball down. According to the college football rule book, that fact is 100% meaningless. How is it that the head of officiating at a major conference does not know this?

I would love to be wrong about this and have someone point out to me the passage in the rulebook that proves it. This kind of stuff keeps me up at night.

18
by Russell Levine :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 11:14am

Re: 14, 16

Penn State is and will remain my favorite place for a road trip. I've been to five of the six Michigan games there and hope to continue coming every two years.

All fans should strive to create the atmosphere that Penn State does ... hostile, but hospitable at the same time.

19
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 11:16am

12: Yet another reason to have a playoff...

20
by James, London (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 11:16am

The FIU-Miami brawl made the sports channels over here. Between the fighting and Lamar Thomas (whom I've never heard of),I thought it made great TV. Am I alone?

21
by GatorGriff (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 11:16am

NCAA Rulebook, quoted from above:
"b. When a Team A player is holding the ball to pass it forward toward the neutral zone, any intentional forward movement of his arm starts the forward pass. If a Team B player contacts the passer or ball after forward movement begins and the ball leaves the passer’s hand, a forward pass is ruled regardless of where the ball strikes the ground or a player (A.R. 2-19-2-I).

c. When in question, the ball is passed and not fumbled during an attempted forward pass."

Sec Supervisor of Officials statement:
"His arm was going forward, but it looked like he was trying to stop it when the ball came out."

Anyone else see a conflict between the rule and what the SEC Supervisor of officials said?

Who knows what would have happened had the call been made correctly, but it's fair to say the outcome would have been different had Floirda taken a 20-18 lead with 9 minutes left. Does Florida go on to win? No one can say. But the game would have played out differently.

22
by Russell Levine :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 11:29am

Re: 20

It makes for Great TV in a pro wrestling, cartoon violence sort of way.

But since that violence was very real, the whole event was sickening. Hey, fights happen, and if two guys throw a few punches or wrestle each other to the ground, I'm fine with them getting kicked out of the game and their one-game suspension.

But when you have dozens of players running to the middle of the field with the intent to injure or maim someone, that crosses the line by miles. The one-game bans for most of the Miami participants are a joke.

23
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 11:34am

One of the things that I have found amazing about the Dirk Koetter punt is that, outside of places like FootballOutsiders, I haven't seen much mention of it. That stuns me. That was a boneheaded play of the first order. That was more than a fraidy-cat TMQ "Boom goes the punt" moment, it was giving up.

I even went online and read a few of the local Arizona papers on Sunday - figuring that hey, since the entire universe knows he's going to get fired, maybe they'd criticize him a bit for that decision. And no - not one peep. Instead all the columnists were talking about how it was a moral victory to lose by 7, rather than how it was preposterous to have punted.

Regarding the Miami thing, I think it's all been said. The ACC's "punishment" of "You can't play against Duke" is laughable, though. Sometimes I wonder - and I wonder this about many high-profile officials, whether they be in sports, or government - do they actually stop to consider "Is this what fans will consider acceptable, or is this going to cause a bigger firestorm than the original incident?" Sure, there were lots of columnists talking about how terrible the brawl was, but since the "punishment" was handed down, and Miami's board "reprimanded" everyone but took no other action, I've seen a lot MORE criticism than there was before, and this criticism is leveled against the conference and the school administration, rather than just the team.

A few from here in DC headed up to State College for the game. My friends weren't fans of either team (I'm a USC and Pac-10 guy after all, given I have three degrees from there, although I'm more partial to Michigan than Penn State), but many of them had never really done the whole tailgating thing when they were in school (smaller colleges), and they wanted the tailgating experience, and they really had a great time. I should have emailed and asked to meet up with you guys, at least to say hello :)

While I'm a USC guy, I'm also a realist, and only their undefeated status is keeping them where they are in the polls. I don't believe they're even playing like a top-10 team right now, forget #2 in the BCS Standings and #1 in the computers, but I'll take it. The computers love the Pac-10 this year, actually, with 4 out of the 6 computers ranking the Pac-10 as the #1 conference.

24
by James, London (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 12:01pm

Russell,

I have no problem with the book being thrown at anyone involved. The guy stamping for example, can have no complaints if he is told he can never play college 'ball again.

That said, I think the clips I've seen make for great TV, (and the commentary is priceless).

25
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 12:34pm

Again, if Miami's lacrosse team (assuming they have one) had gotten in a brawl similar to this, I think it highly likely that Shalala would have forced them to forfeit the balance of the season. When principles bump up against large piles of money, however, it is unusual for the large piles of money to yield first.

26
by Russell Levine :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 1:22pm

Re: 24

Very true. I still think there's a chance that the public backlash will be enough to force further sanctions, at least a multi-game ban for leg-stomper Meriweather.

I also think a one-game ban for Coker would help appease people as well.

27
by Diane (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 1:25pm

I think FIU and Miami should be forced to "donate" the remaining 2006 home game revenues to community charities and/or anti-gang initiatives.

28
by Kunk (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 3:44pm

Russell, glad you enjoyed another visit to Happy Valley. Losing to Michigan has become a nasty habit that I wish Penn State could finally break. Lloyd Carr, for all of his supposed shortcomings, has dominated PSU. And c'mon, you weren't scared of Paul Cianciolo on the final drive of the fourth quarter? Not even a little bit? Humor us Penn State fans who are trying to find positives in another hard-fought loss to another top 5 team.

As far as the canned music in the Beav is concerned, "Zombie Nation" has become the rallying cry for the uber-white student section (whether or not that's a good thing is up for debate). The students even inject the ol' "We are Penn State" chant into the song. As for the Blur and GNR, I think the noise level of the crowd is a little tough for the Blue Band to overpower, which is why you hear that stuff at critical or exciting moments.

Since we're talking about the Fla/Aub review issue, I figured I'd bring up something I noticed while watching the replay of the PSU/Mich game. Midway through the first quarter with the score 0-0, Michigan had a 2nd-10 from around their own 20 when Henne went back to pass and was pressured from the left side by Tim Shaw. Henne cocked his arm to throw and had the ball knocked out by Shaw before the arm started to move forward. However, the ball hit Henne's forearm as it was moving forward, causing it to appear to be a forward pass. The play was called an incomplete pass and was not reviewed. Michigan ended up hopping on the ball, so even if it had been ruled a fumble, they would have retained possession (but lost about 10 yards). I don't think this play had a large effect on the game, but I'm just curious...did anyone else notice this? Am I even correct in what I am saying? Is it still considered a forward pass if his forearm is "throwing" the ball forward?

29
by Kevin Pelton (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 4:09pm

I think David Norrie's commentary on Koetter's decision was worse than the decision itself.

Maybe I was confused, but my memory is that Norrie said it was a good or obvious decision to punt. Then, when he realized the clock was going to run out, Norrie quickly changed his tune and criticized Koetter while making no reference to his own mistake.

That takes some serious guts.

30
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 5:23pm

I'm missing something. I'm desparately, desparately missing something. See here:

Penn State offensive tackle Levi Brown did a solid job last Saturday after returning to the lineup. He missed the previous two games with a knee injury but was relatively effective in both pass protection and as a run blocker against a very tough Michigan defense....

Do these people actually watch the games? At all? At least two of the sacks given up during the game were Brown's fault - and not of the 'Morelli's taking too long' type, of the 'pathetic attempt to block' type. Brown rarely got significant push during the game at all.

I don't get it. Brown continues to get good press, over and over, and yet in each of the Penn State games I've charted, he's come out as one of the worst offensive linemen, especially in terms of effort.

31
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 8:55pm

Just for kicks, here's my Top 25:

1. Ohio State
2. Michigan
3. Southern Cal
4. Texas
5. Louisville
6. Arkansas
7. West Virginia
8. Auburn
9. Notre Dame
10. Florida
11. Nebraska
12. Tennessee
13. Georgia Tech
14. California
15. LSU
16. Clemson
17. Oregon
18. Texas A & M
19. Boston College
20. Boise State
21. Missouri
22. Wisconsin
23. Wake Forest
24. Oklahoma
25. Florida State

32
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 9:04pm

4, 5, 6, 22, 24, probably others.

I'm not a Miami fan.

However, I think the level of heat UM is taking in the press is absurd. FIU TOTALLY STARTED IT!

I know that the behavior of some of the UM players was very, very bad. But if I saw TWO PLAYERS from an opposing team beating up my placeholder, I'm going to jump in there and rip out their ****ing throats.

I also think a one-game ban for Coker would help appease people as well.

This is what I'm talking about- why no mention of Don Strock?

Between the fighting and Lamar Thomas (whom I’ve never heard of)

I mentioned this in the earlier thread, but when Thomas was at Miami he was the single biggest showboat I'd ever seen in any sport at any level. Every time he went in for a TD (and that happened plenty of times) Thomas would remove his helmet and talk into a nearby TV camera. Good times.

33
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 9:14pm

Speaking as an OU fan, why does OU move up in the rankings after losing Peterson for the season?

That, and the fact that Texas is looking better by the week.

I have a simple idea that would make the polls a lot better- instruct every voter to COMPLETELY DISREGARD their rankings fromthe previous week and start from scratch in the current week. The system where teams simply move down several spots after losing is ridiculous.

34
by Towens (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 9:50pm

Perhaps the reason Miami is taking so much heat compared to FIU, besides being a million times more prominent program, is that the camera angle I've seen, at least initially and on most of the replays, originates from Miami's side of the field, so it is a lot easier to see the Canes stomping on guys since a lot of them are shielding us from seeing what the FIU dudes are up to.

35
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 9:51pm

Kevin, I certainly didn't defend FIU, and if somebody punches your friend in a bar, and you proceed to get in a brawl with other people in the bar, and you are caught on tape with several of your friends surrounding one of those people, as he lies on the ground, while you and your friends stomp on him, there's a good chance you're being charged with something, followed by a plea bargain or a conviction.

If a behavior is intolerable to an institution, then people who engage in the behavior shouldn't be tolerated by the institution, which means they should be excluded from the institution. If Donna Shalala, the AD, and Coker did not make it clear that such behavior was intolerable, then they are flagrantly derelict in their duties, and should resign. The same goes for the FIU officials. Of course, the Miami people have more money to lose, so they'll more than likely fail to live up to their responsibilities.

On a related note, I just read where Ricky Manning of the Bears pleaded no contest to felony assault. I hope he gets his ass run out of the league for as long as the new CBA allows. I really don't expect much from these nitwits, but I do wish the league would rid itself of the criminally violent. Call me crazy.

36
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 10:13pm

34: It's a media thing. They need something to talk about that gets us tuning in, reading, watching, whatever. If feigning outrage over the incident draws interest, they fan the flames.

35: I am not in favor of creating a "scarlet letter society" where an individual is denied his right to work over pleading nolo.

Finally, someone made an excellent point in the previous thread.

I live in Boston Red Sox country, where we all celebrate the big fight the Red Sox had vs the New York Yankees as the turning poinmt of the season. The image of Jason Varitek popping Alex Rodriguez in the mouth with his catcher's glove is still a common sight. One of my co-workers uses it as his computer background.

Think about it- when it's mostly well compensated white and hispanic players fighting, it's great.

But when it's mostly young, uncompensated black players fighting, it's the end of the world. Ban the players forever, fire everyone, etc.

Stop and think about that for a moment before dismissing it.

37
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 10:47pm

Oh, baloney, kevin, it was a lousy point in that thread, and it is a lousy point in this one. First, as I stated above, if a mostly white team at Miami had engaged in the same actions as these football players, but had done so in a sport which doesn't produce oodles of cash, Shalala would very likely have been far more harsh. Hell, the white lacrosse players at Duke lost their entire season when a drunk stripper made some accusations that a few hours of investigative work could demonstrate to be false. If it had happened to the basketball team, I can guarantee the investigative work would have been done prior to forfeiting the season.

Second, if you can't delineate between the Yankees/Red Sox fight, and what happened on Saturday, you are simply not paying attention. Show me the picture of a crowd of Yankees or Red Sox surrounding a prone opponent, stomping on him.

True enough, the players union in baseball has taken the unforutnate tack of defending it's members, no matter the offense. Thus, mlb players can violently assault members of the media and fans without fear of losing their livelihood. This is unfortunate, but not something for college athletics to emulate. Also, you may recall the several instances of the white hockey players being prosecuted for violent acts on the ice. The whole race angle, as how it relates to Saturday's brawl, is utter garbage.

Third, I forgot to note where a "right" to earn a living in a particular industry was granted, regardless of one's behavior. Perhaps you can point it out to me. The NFL is in the business of selling irrational loyalty to laundry, and it is certainly reasonable for them to ruthlessly eliminate any behavior which they believe interferes with that commerce, consistent with existing law and what is allowed within the CBA.

38
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 12:47am

Re 32, et al: Kevin, maybe some of the heat on Miami comes because FIU responded in a much more stringent way, dismissing two players and suspending 16 indefinitely. Miami, by contrast, is bragging about how tough it is being by suspending one player indefinitely, suspending 12 for one game, and having them do "community service." The FIU President or AD or whomever has made a number of statements that seem like he's genuinely dismayed at the behavior, while President Shalala of Miami stood around with a wet finger in the air to see which way the winds were blowing before slapping a few wrists. Don't you think the contrast might have something to do with the heat Miami's taking?

39
by Frick (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 8:43am

I also think one of the differences is the fact that "Da U" has had how many of these types of brawls break out with them involved?

I think it was Clemson-South Carolina a year or 2 ago when a melee broke out. This was in a heated rivalry, but what were the penalties. I don't think either team had a history of brawls quite like Miami.

40
by Russell Levine :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 10:18am

Re: 39

That Clemson-South Carolina fight was every bit as ugly as Miami-FIU. It was the final game of the regular season for both teams, and both forfeited bowl bids as a result.

The heat Miami is taking vs. FIU in this situation is because a) They're Miami, with both a place near the top of the sport's hierarchy and a history of this type of behavior and b) the school's reaction has been a joke compared to FIU's.

I'm disappointed that Shalala has not done more in reaction to this mess. Would it kill them to give leg-stomper Meriweather a three-game ban? To give some of the other more active participants two games? To sit the coach down for a game? It's not like Miami's competing for a national title this season.

41
by James, London (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 10:34am

If the colleges won't take action, can the NCAA hand out proper penalties to players and'or the schools involved?

42
by chris (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 1:01pm

(on race and reaction) The players union has nothing to do with the way an incident is perceived, particularly by the media, and that's what Kevin seems to be talking about.

On many levels, it's tough to equate this situation with the Duke situation.

The NBA also has a players union, but that league took a much larger PR hit with the Detroit incident than MLB took when they had that incident with Texas players going after fans.

(lack of blowback on FIU) If Florida International gets into a brawl with Louisiana-Lafayette, do we even have TV footage? Beyond this week or next, who really cares what happens to Don Strock?
The only way Miami escapes criticism is to have been "peacemakers, instead of throwing haymakers". Since "The U" botched that part, it's only natural that they're the ones who will catch the hell.

RE #10: I stand corrected on Peterson dive.

43
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 1:13pm

Chris, the point is that in the Duke situation, the entire team of mostly white players WERE immediately banned, despite any substantial evidence. There is little doubt that the fact that losing a lacrosse season has zero negative financial impact (heck, it probably has a positive financial impact) played a role in the quickness and severity of the sanction. When Kenny Rogers pushed around a cameraman last year, there was a good deal of outrage that his sanction was so mild. Given that prosecutions of prominent people rarely take place without public support, the fact that white hockey players have been prosecuted for their violence on the ice is indicative that the issue of public outrage over misbehavior by athletes is not nearly as race-driven as kevin suggests.

44
by Pete (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 2:56pm

#11-Florida-Auburn: Auburn recovered the ball from the "fumble" at on their side of the field. The score was 18-17. After a field goal, possibly made, Florida would be leading 20-18.
However, Auburn might have started in simular position after a kickoff. On that drive I believe that Auburn scored a field goal, which would have made the score 21-20 rather than 21-17.
Yes, Florida should have then had an extra timeout and this might have allowed them to get within Field Goal range.
I believe Chris Leak appeared less capable in the second half after he started feeling pressure and especially after he took that big hit on the option play.
The loss was not only his, of course. The defense could have been capable of covering the Auburn receivers well enough to not give them 5+ yards on every catch, although to be honest their scheme gives EVERY OPPONENT this same opportunity. The offensive line certainly could have played better.

45
by chris (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 4:15pm

Will, there's a difference between what cops do or what leagues are allowed to do, and what the general public and media tend to beg for in terms of punishment.

In the cases of Kenny Rogers vs. Ron Artest, there's a difference between outraged reaction and bloodthirst.

I don't know what to tell you about the Duke case other than to say that an alleged rape at a team party is on another level from an on-field brawl.

I can go along with you on the big $$ vs. no-revenue situation, but there's a difference in the way schools handle actual criminal charges as opposed to something like an ugly fight on the field that may not result in any charges.

Charges bring indefinite suspensions automatically at a lot of places, big-money sport or not.

Apologies to the thread, because we're going a bit afield.

46
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 6:37pm

37- Will, it saddens me that you've given up rational discussion in favor of flaming, condescention, and insults. You made some worthwhile points, but I won't respond to your comments while you're behaving like an ass.

47
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 6:42pm

The FIU President or AD or whomever has made a number of statements that seem like he’s genuinely dismayed at the behavior, while President Shalala of Miami stood around with a wet finger in the air to see which way the winds were blowing before slapping a few wrists. Don’t you think the contrast might have something to do with the heat Miami’s taking?

Not really, no.

After a Saturday night brawl, Miami announced suspensions on Monday. Is it really such a bad thing that the university took a reasoned approach and discussed the issue with clear heads- as opposed to the wacky sports radio guys?

If someone can explain why waiting until Monday afternoon to announce the suspensions from a Saturday night incident, I'd love to hear the reasoning behind it.

48
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 6:46pm

I’m disappointed that Shalala has not done more in reaction to this mess. Would it kill them to give leg-stomper Meriweather a three-game ban? To give some of the other more active participants two games? To sit the coach down for a game? It’s not like Miami’s competing for a national title this season.

You lost me on that last point, Russell. Are you saying that if Miami were in contention for the national title that the coach and players should suffer less seriosu consequences? I personally think any penalties should be levied in a consistent manner.

And FWIW, I don't think Coker did anything to merit a suspension.

49
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 6:49pm

I had a nice little comment prepared, but then foxsports.com crashed Firefox, taking out my comment and all my little tabs with it. So, to summarize:

-- There is no reason for an attack by two idiots to escalate into a brawl. Go in, get your guy out, and let the law run its course.

-- There will always be a lower standard of behavior somewhere. You can choose to point to it as an excuse for other behavior, or you can find a higher standard and expect people to meet it. I don't think anyone's ever been hurt by having been asked to improve their behavior.

50
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 7:02pm

There will always be a lower standard of behavior somewhere. You can choose to point to it as an excuse for other behavior, or you can find a higher standard and expect people to meet it. I don’t think anyone’s ever been hurt by having been asked to improve their behavior.

By and large, I agree with this...until people start taking things too far, like when someone suggests a person loses his ability to earn a living over pushing a cameraman.

I'm sure we all agree that we don't want to see the death penalty enacted for parking violations, but sometimes it seems like that's the direction we're headed in.

Well, at least when a football player is involved.

51
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 7:56pm

Kevin, I've yet to insult you. Stating that your assertions are without merit, and contrary to facts, and explaining why, is not an insult, unless you think that you are insulted whenever someone has the temerity to disagree with you. On the other hand, you have chosen to insult me. Consult a mirror.

Furthermore, Shalala said today that she took such a "reasoned approach" to the matter that she refrained from looking at the video tape, because she was at the game, and that viewing the tape would have made her angry. In other words, she didn't want to examine in detail the behavior she was was supposed to pass administrative judgement on, no matter that there is no way she could have had a clear view of all that transpired live, because she lacks the self control to evaluate the matter judiciously. This is idiocy on steroids, and yes, that is an insultingly accurate description of Shalala.

Finally, you have misrepresented my views in regards to the proper sanction for assaulting members of the media, which is again ironic, since those that misrepresent the views of others in debate can be more accurately described with the term you hurled in my direction. I understand very well that you think assault, including felonious assualt, is a much more minor affair than I do, but that doesn't give you license to misrepresent me. Please stop.

52
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 8:22pm

Will, Post #51:

you have misrepresented my views in regards to the proper sanction for assaulting members of the media

Will, Post #37:

Thus, mlb players can violently assault members of the media and fans without fear of losing their livelihood.

Sir, please stop.

53
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 8:23pm

(on race and reaction) The players union has nothing to do with the way an incident is perceived, particularly by the media, and that’s what Kevin seems to be talking about.

On many levels, it’s tough to equate this situation with the Duke situation.

In a way it is.

The Miami and FIU players are mostly black. They are unlike the majority, so many people dislike them, albeit in a closeted manner.

The Duke lacrosse players also are not like the majority, as they're from wealty families. People had no problem using that "they are not like us" motive for hatred in a more open manner.

54
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 8:49pm

kevin, you falsely imply that because I think a professional athlete should fear losing his livelihood when he assaults a member of the media or the sport's fans, I therefore am suggesting a person should lose "his ability to earn a living over pushing a cameraman." This is disingenuous on your part. Please stop.

Furthermore, your use of hyperbole is extremely disingenuous when you use the death penalty for parking violations as an analogy to severe career penalties for assault.

55
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 8:56pm

kevin, perhaps you could supply a chart, explaining the inner motivations for people voicing displeasure for various actions. It could have a section for "displeasure voiced because the actions were undertaken by a black person", and another for "displeasure voiced because, although the actions were undertaken by a white person, the was rich and white", and then maybe a tiny sliver for "we can't really tell what the inner motivations are; perhaps those voicing displeasure just really didn't like the behavior. Or something."

56
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 8:57pm

I was being facetious with the parking tickets remark, and pushing is assault.

Beyond that, this got stupid a long time ago and I'm done. Hopefully we'll get back to talking about football and stop talking about one another.

57
by chris (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 9:02pm

Sorry for any misunderstanding, Kev, but the first statement at #42 (players union)isn't really connected to the second statement at #42(about Duke), which was a separate response to #37.

I just felt that the Duke situation was such an outlier that it doesn't really fit within any comparison regarding athletes behaving badly.

58
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 9:16pm

I'd be happy to, kevin. What really bugs me, though, is when people imply racial motivations for others' behavior, absent a lot of extremely good evidence. That this isn't even seen as an extremely inflammatory insult of the people involved is indicative of a real loss of perspective.

Does racism exist, and does it harm people? Sure, but if you are going to say of someone, or a group of people, that the very voicing of their opinions is racially motivated, you oughta come with a boatload of evidence, lest one be accused of engaging in one of the more vile ad hominem attacks in our culture, the accusation of being a racist, without accompanying proof.

59
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 9:34pm

Will, I threw it out there as a theory, not absolute, provable truth. If I had provable truth, I wouldn't have thrown it out there as something to think about.

What bugs me is the when media idiots (no one here) throw out the idea that "these guys should be arrested, just like Average Joe would be if he assaulted someone on the street!!!"

Okay, maybe the cops should make an arrest after every tackle, since if Average Joe tackled someone on the street...

If you're going to acknowledge that things are a bit different on a football field for one thing, you have to make *some* allowances for the other.

60
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 9:47pm

Perhaps I overreacted kevin, but tossing out the theory of racially motivated behavior is easily perceived as inflammatory rhetoric. Does this mean the topic is off-limits? Nope, but it is best done with care and evidence.

61
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 10:08pm

Perhaps I overreacted kevin, but tossing out the theory of racially motivated behavior is easily perceived as inflammatory rhetoric.

Fair enough. But go back and look at my post- was it really inflammatory rhetoric?

I personally HATE the race card, but the post from the previous thread really made me think about why the media and fans applaud certain on-field fights (Red Sox vs Yankees) yet treats similar incidents as shocking and unacceptable.

62
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 10:35pm

It was the post from the previous thread which really irritated me. If you are going to say that people may be racially motivated when they voice their opinions, have a well reasoned argument, with a whole lot of evidence, otherwise keep to yourself.

One wouldn't just casually toss off that Mr. Jones might be beating his wife, because she had a bruise on her cheek, and one shouldn't just casually toss off that Mr. Jones might be racially motivated in his remarks, because he may have not made similar remarks regarding a only vaguely similar matter a few years ago. Now, if groups of Yankees or Red Sox had surrounded a prone opponent and stomped on him, and dozens of cops had to restore order, the post may not have been so out of line. As it was, however, it really was reasonable to perceive the post as a typically obnoxious playing of the race card.

63
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 10:48pm

But there was no "Mr. Jones" in the comment from the previous thread.

That is significant.

64
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 11:09pm

There was a reference to people voicing an opinion, and then an implication, without any real evidence, that those voicing that opinion were racially motivated in their remarks. That's obnoxious.

65
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 11:31pm

Will, on this very thread you yourself have voiced many opinions and have speculated on many issues without concrete evidence.

I'm fine with that, but please don't hold other participant's feet to the fire for doing the same thing.

Again, this has gotten silly.

66
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 11:47pm

Yes, it has, but please tell me where I have made a similarly inflammatory implication as to people's motivations without any concrete evidence. If you are referring to the suspicion that bureaucrats make decisions that protect the financial self-interest of the bureaucracy they are part of, I can cite several thousand examples of it, often in an academic setting. If you wish me to cite several dozen examples of non-revenue producing student organizations and athletic teams which were suspended or disbanded after behavior which was less extreme than what took place last Saturday, I can do so. My entire hypothesis is that green, or the lack of it, is the color that drives these decisions, and there is quite a bit of evidence to support that hypothesis.

Making a veiled accusation of racism without evidence is mostly done to shut down those voicing an opinion which the accuser has a difference of opinion with, by use of one of the more inflammatory labels within our culture.

67
by Tom (not verified) :: Thu, 10/19/2006 - 12:13am

It'll probably get lost, but tonight's Florida Atlantic-Louisiana-Lafayette game provided a FANTASTIC example of an end-of-game scenario. I admit to watching only the last 1:25 or so, but it was the time to watch. ULL lead 6-0, and had a 4th and 3 from the FAU 32. FAU has only 1 TO, so a first down guarantees the win. And FAU needs a TD to win, while they haven't done anything at all on offense all night (avg drive 4.2 plays, 11.6 yards). To me, this is a classic situation of when to punt. When ULL came out on offense, I assumed they'd try to draw FAU offside, and if that failed take the delay of game penalty and try to pin FAU deep. Instead, they run the shotgun option, and the worst possible thing happens: the QB keeps the ball, and they lose nearly 6 yards.

FAU takes over at its own 38, and, as teams are wont to down, marching down the field, quickly down to the ULL 25 with about 50 seconds to play. I mean, this is perfect: they're out there quickly at the change of possession to avoid the loss of time, and lose no more than 2-3 seconds at the snap after a first down. Heck, they even call a run on 2nd and 2 (remember, they have a TO left, so they can take it if need be) and pick up the first down. Howard Schnellenberger still looks like he can coach. FAU gets lucky, too, when a ULL DB jumps an out route and drops the pick. Then, you're remembered this is a game played by humans.

FAU throws a quick hitch on 1&10, and the WR decides to try for extra yards instead of taking 4 or so and getting out of bounds. And gets tackled after 8 yards. FAU tries to run another quick play rather than taking their last TO, but has problems getting lined up and loses nearly 30 seconds (David Givens did the same thing for TEN against DAL at the end of the half and it cost them at least one chance for a TD) before running a play. See above re running: loses a yard, and they take a TO with 19 seconds left. They manage to throw for a first down, and go down, agonizing the announcers, who don't seem to realize the clock stops for a first down in college.

As they're hurrying to get the next play off from the FAU 12 or so (a spike, so they can huddle), they get assessed for a penalty I've never seen before: delay of game, for snapping the ball before it was marked for play. This is especially curious because ESPN2's clock had gone down 2 seconds (an error that wouldn't be corrected for a couple plays). Anyway, they throw end zone on the first play and it could have been completed, but the WR didn't fight through the incidental contact and it fell incomplete. 2nd&15 from the 17 or so with 7 seconds left. The announcers are braying about "backyard play, everybody go deep," not realizing that if you stop the clock, you can get 2 plays off. And FAU is smart: the QB looks deep, doesn't see anything, and dumps it off on a crossing route, and the WR smartly steps out at the 8 with 2 seconds left after seeing he can't make it to the end zone. More announcer idiocy: "ULL will have all their defenders deep on this play." THEY'RE ON THE FREAKIN' 8 YARD LINE, where are they going to line up, on the other side of midfield? And, against all forces of rightness and harmony, ULL wins the game. FAU has a post-corner route with the TE and slot WR, but ULL's deep guy picks up the slot WR on the post. There's room to hit the WR for the winning TD, but the pass is thrown slightly behind and the DB recovers enough to prevent the WR from catching the pass.

Such a minor game, two teams I have essentially no interest in aside from perhaps a curiosity as to FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger, yet they improbably manage to produce one of the more compelling end-game scenarios I've ever seen. Man, I love this game.

68
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Thu, 10/19/2006 - 12:42am

Just for the record, #67 was me.