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Friday, April 07, 2006

How Has It Not Happened Again?

While checking out some Web sites, trying to find a topic for today, I found this picture at Buckeye Commentary. That's Buckeye speedster Ted Ginn returning a punt for a touchdown for Tosu in their victory over Michigan in 2004.

What I found so interesting about this picture are the two Michigan players standing on the sideline - #10 is Clayton Richard, #13 is Jeff Kastl. Both were backup QBs, 3rd and 4th string respectively. They - along with the other members of the team, and Wangs, Yost and I - were probably the only ones in the 'Shoe that weren't up and screaming at that time.

Look closely at those backup QBs. You can tell they're pissed. It was becoming obvious, literally before their eyes, that the Wolverines were going to lose that day, and they were helpless to do anything about it. Not just because they weren't going to throw any passes that day, but also because Ginn was sprinting right past them and there was nothing they could do before he put the Buckeyes up 27-14.

Or was there? Back in the 1954 Cotton Bowl, Rice - yes, Rice - running back Dicky Moegle was doing his best Vince Young impersonation, running for 265 yards on 11 carries in the Owls victory over Alabama, 28-6. In the second quarter, Moegle took the ball from the Rice 5 and broke into the open field. He was on his way to scoring his second TD of the day when Alabama fullback Tommy Lewis leaped off the sideline and cut the legs out from under Moegle at the Tide 45. Moegle was awarded a touchdown by the referees since, in their judgment, there was no 'Bama defender who would have caught him. After the game, Lewis, a co-captain, said, "I guess I'm just too full of 'Bama," in explaining why he made the obviously illegal play.

Though it was an unsportsmanlike tactic, and embarrassed his team, there used to be a part of me that admired Lewis' loyalty to his team. When I was a kid and saw the grainy film of the play, I thought, "Good for him." Now that I've become less of a poor loser, I only wonder how this hasn't happened again. With so many games, so much emphasis on winning, and so many unsportsmanlike events taking place today, how is it that a Fresno State backup didn't trip up Reggie Bush last November, or a USC player didn't rush off the bench to tackle Vince Young in the Rose Bowl? It would be different than when Woody Hayes punched Charlie Bauman - that involved a coach after the play was over, not a player affecting an ongoing play.

So what if Richard or Kastl had sideswiped or, even more discreetly, tripped Ginn on his scamper down the sideline? Would you be surprised? Would it be the worst thing a player could do on the field? Do you think something like it will happen in the future? As a fan, would you think less of a player who made such a move, particularly if he did it because he was "Too full of Michigan (or Texas, or USC, or Auburn, or 'Bama, or Georgia, or Tosu, etc)?"

20 comments:

Yost said...

While I too am surprised it hasn't happened since, I would hate to see something like that happen, or even worse, happen fairly regularly.

There are already too many nuts in the stands taking football games too seriously, no need to see it on the sidelines as well.

nico said...

I love how he just goes and plops back down on the bench like nothing happened.

Anonymous said...

something like this, in regard to UM, would be 'THE END' of an already crumbling program...

...but hey, you'd at least have something to blame it on!

Anonymous said...

I'm just as suprised that an entire team has not come on to the field when the clock is down to 0:00 even though the play is still on going.

Pants McPants said...

I think in this day and age, when every 3rd string LB who gets caught with an open container makes ESPN news, an action like this would be just too much for the backlash.
And in this particular example, by the time these guys saw Ginn breaking free, they'd just be flopping onto the field 15 yards behind him.

Benny Friedman said...

Nico, if I recall correctly, Lewis went back to the bench with his head in his hands - he knew he screwed up big time. I always found that humorous for some reason.
Pants, you're right - what made me think that Richard or Kastl could have tackled Ginn - no one else on the Wolverines could that day.

surrounded in columbus said...

Guys,
i was there too (took the Buckeye fan son- one of the few games i could wear m&b and not get assaulted for it).

this play has been blown way out of proportion as to its importance to the overall outcome. don't get me wrong- the TD still counted. it was exciting, lit up the crowd, etc., etc., cliche', cliche'. but even if the side line had tackled him, the defense wouldn't have stopped them from scoring.

let's face it- what killed us that game was the refusal to make mid game adjustments until it was too late. we came in w/ a scheme and didn't even attempt to adjust to tosu's game plan during the game(how many times did we do that last season, too?- at least five).

we spent the entire second half in a 3 man rush/prevent cover zone. it was entirely ineffective.

plus, our "make Rush Limbaugh look like a Clinton" conservative offense in the late second, early third quarters pretty much killed us, and took away any chance to take momentum. trust me those of you who weren't there- when we went up 14-7 midway thru the first half it was so quiet you could hear a booster shuffle the money he was putting into the envelope. but Lloyd isn't one to make changes and tosu made adjustments, we didn't and the game slipped away there, not the punt return.

in fact, that TD may have had a wierd benefit for us in that after we went down two scores, we did actually pass on first down once or twice.


it's pretty funny when you think about it- we run this ultra conservative scheme on offense to not make turn overs and on D to not give up the "big" plays, and then turn around and have a punt run back for a TD. reminded me of Bo against ND in '89(?) w/ Rocket.

i guess Lloyd's just a chip off the ole' block- at least he only gave up one TD???

nico said...

benny,

you're right, he did sink his head in his hands, but still the fact that he popped the guy and ran to sit down (head in hands or not) cracks me up...and I'm an Alabama fan.

I'd probably feel more shame over it if it had happened in my lifetime, but even that couldn't match the shame of Mikes Dubose & Price.

Wangs said...

Surrounded,

Excellent observations! The things I recall most from that game were - Henne's high school coach sat right behind us and was very, very cool. Gave us lots of tidbits about Chad and the recruting process. Apparently Scott Loeffler gets all the credit for signing him. Not even Joe-PA eating dinner at his house was enough to get him to Pennsylvania State.

FYI - I think Scott should be the next head coach for many reasons, including the fact that the Greatest Quarterback in Football History, Tom Brady, gives Loeffler credit for mentoring and coaching him to greatness. Of course, if Henne sucks again this year then Loeffler should be fired (just kidding).

The other thing I remember about that nightmare was our "great receiver" dropping a couple of huge passes that would've converted third downs into first downs.

And, of course, the inability of the defense to stop a mediocre quarterback who could run.

It was a sad day made even worse because I had to sit in between Yost and Benny. Those cowboys engaged in way too many celebratory hugs for such a crappy game. I also felt it was a little odd that Yost and Benny thought it would be good luck if they wore their caps inside out and held hands for the whole second half. Not that there's anything wrong with that!

Maize n Brew Dave said...

Funny. And I thought such plays were legal. Isn't that what happened against Nebraska in the Fiasco Bowl? Hard to score a touchdown when half the state of Nebraska's on the field. Guess they were too full of corn, or something...

BTW, great point on Ginn. If either of those two had tried to tackle him they probably would've missed and somehow cleated themselves in the eyes.

BaggyPantsDevil said...

I’m pretty ambivalent on this sort of stuff, too. One the one hand, I can definitely understand the emotions that would drive a player to do something like that and even have a certain degree of respect for an athlete with so much passion and desire to win that he just can’t stop himself. On the other hand, it’s cheating and it’s a cheap shot.

As much as it pains me to think of Ted Ginn Jr. streaking down the field like that against Michigan, he’s earned it. Through hard work in practice and the efforts of his teammates on the field and his own natural athletic ability, he deserves to feel the joy of that moment. That’s one reason we play sports, to feel the thrill of making a big play like that. There’s something just wrong about taking that away from him, even though he does play for Ohio State.

As for why it doesn’t happen anymore, I think the biggest reason is it doesn’t work. Officials have the discretion to award a touchdown, so nothing’s going to get changed. In fact, the result will likely be worse than just letting the play go. A team that scores the touchdown may relax a little and become more conservative (we Michigan fans should be familiar with this). A team subjected to such a flagrant foul my come out angrier and more motivated than ever to run up the score. There’s also the risk of having the game degenerate into an exchange of cheap shots against each others players. Part of the deterrence to personal fouls is that no one wants to be subjected to them in retaliation.

And, it actually does still happen. It’s not unheard of for a defensive back, when caught completely out of position, to commit a flagrant pass interference penalty to prevent a touchdown pass. The player is generally commended for having the presence of mind to, in a fraction of a second, override all his football conditioning and commit a foul to prevent a score. The worst thing that can happen is it’s a 15 yard penalty and an automatic first down. But there's no touchdown. Sometimes, there’s not even a flag, yes, I’m looking at you Sun Belt Conference officials.

Another example is Nebraska v. Missouri, 8 November 1997. There’s just 7 seconds left and Scott Frost’s pass to Shevin Wiggins is broken up by Missouri defender Julian Jones. At this point, the game is over and #1 Nebraska loses to Missouri. Except, Wiggins, falling backward, kicks the ball to keep it in the air and it’s caught by Nebraska’s Matt Davison. The extra point ties the game and Nebraska goes on to win it in overtime. Illegal, absolutely, but one still has to admire the quick thinking of Wiggins.

There’s probably a certain amount of “cheating” in every game. Players will always try to test the limits of the officials in each game. How much holding can an offensive tackle get away with? How much contact with the wideout can the cornerback make? I think it mostly comes down to, “what can I get away with?” and "what can I come up with in the split second I have to think of something?"

Jim M. said...

Enjoyed the article on Dickie Moegel. I remember the schematics of the play in the newpapers. They showed Lewis watching the run develope & then the tackle. The game was not the Rose Bowl. Since '46 or'48 it had been played Big 10 V. Pac 8-10. This game was the Sugar Bowl I believe. Great info that you provide for an ND Sub

Benny Friedman said...

Jim M., thanks for the correction. It's now correct in the post - it was the Cotton Bowl, not the Rose Bowl.

IC said...

Baggy:

Re. your descriptions of guys "cheating" during games: each of your examples were/are committed by players in the game at the time.

If a Michigan player ever came off the sideline to pull a Dickie Moegel and tackle a td-bound opponent, I'd have no problem if he never played for us again. It would be unacceptably reckless and unsportsmanlike.

That noted, when Ginn was returning that punt (and when that Minnesota RB was rumbling down the sideline this year while the Gophers were trying to run out the clock)---I could provide more examples but I don't want to ruin our weekends---I was praying to the gods of several religions that he would somehow trip and fall on his face and/or ass, a la Shawn Springs when Tai Streets caught a harmless 7-yard slant and took it to the Horseshoe endzone in our win over tOSU in '96.

There's a memory to start the weekend off right.

Anonymous said...

Wangs....

We're going to have to have the "Loeffler for coach" discussion another day.

My take...

He just might be the most overrated coach in the country today...at any level.

If only I could have such a rep for accomplishing so little.

Wangs said...

Anon 1:36 -

Admittidly, I am wrong about many things and Loeffler for Head Coach may be yet another one. I recall thinking Cam Cameron would be a good head coach, too. I did like the IU football helmets when he was there.

Maybe when Yost gets back from Vegas. If he gets back. He and Benny can start a post about Loeffler or other Assistants who may be head coach material now that thankfully Herrman is gone. I would be interested in your views because everything I've heard about Loeffler is positive. But I haven't really heard that much.

Finally - you should get a different name than Anonymous so we know you're a regular.

BaggyPantsDevil said...

IC,

Shouldn't it be pull a Tommy Lewis? Dickie Moegle didn't do anything wrong.

You are correct that a player coming off the sidelines is committing a more serious offense than someone in the play. Photographs of the play show Lewis getting ready to tackle Moegle while he's still at least five yards out so there was a certain degree of premeditation. It's kind of like the difference between 1st Degree Murder and Manslaughter.

Apparently, there was not clear cut ruling on how to handle this--so I'm guessing it hadn't happened before--and the referee made the call to award the touchdown to Rice. That set the precedent and may explain why it's apparently only happened once.

IC said...

Baggy:

You're right. I should have written "pull a Tommy Lewis." Though you have to admit, "pull a Dickie Moegel" sounds way funnier.

Cheater McSweatervest said...

You know Surrounded....TOSU and MEECHIGAN fans have more in common than I think you want to admit. We whine (yes I said whine.....I hate whiny buckeye fans as much as you) about the coaching staff not making adjustments....conservative offense......bend dont break defense.....oh yeah, and assults at the other teams stadium. My wife, brother-in-law and I were at the '01 game and were verbally and physically assulted (hit in head by 2 tossed beer bottles, the offender was more accurate than Navarre that day). Ive been to a couple of games at the little house on the prairie and have at least once at each been afraid for my life. My car was scratched, had a tire slashed, been called hick, hillbilly, "hey where did you park your tractor?" etc. You guys call us hicks, we call West Virginian's and Kentuckians hicks. Do they call Tennesee fans hicks? Oh wait, everyone does that. But I digress.....I have been appalled by fan behavior at many stadiums INCLUDING The Big Hole. I think the next time the game is in Ann Arbor and WHEN I am assulted I will make sure that EVERYONE knows how horrible the behavior there can be. Wonder if the U of M pres. will be as classy as TOSU's and write a letter of apology for some drunken idiots.

surrounded in columbus said...

CMcSV,
if you talked to fans from all 11 conference schools which venue in the big ten had the worst fans- rude, abusive behavior, things thrown, etc., the overwelming majority would list tosu. fans from probably 9 out of the 11 schools have had their worst experiences visiting columbus.

tosu fans would probably list A2, PSU, or Madison. MooSU fans would probably "say" A2.

point is, tosu fans get treated poorly everywhere they go because they treat all visitors so poorly. most other school/venues treat other fans reasonably well, and save their abuse for tosu.