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Monday, October 01, 2007

Timeout Ploy: Great Coaching or Unfortunate Loophole?

What the hell, let's make it a Florida-themed day after all here on the MZone...

A lot of college football fans are still talking about Florida coach Urban Meyer's timeout ploy at the end of the Florida-Auburn game Saturday and we wanted to weight in and get your opinion.

In case you missed it, Auburn's freshman kicker lined up and calmly booted what he - and just about everybody watching - thought was the winning field goal on the game's final play. But to quote Lee Corso, "Not so fast, my friend."

On the Gator sideline, Urban Meyer was standing right next to the ref and, mere moments before the ball was snapped, Meyer signaled for his team's final timeout. The ploy, inspired by two NFL teams who've used it successfully the last two weeks, is designed such that the timeout is called so last second, the players on the field have no time to stop the play before it is set in motion.

The thinking behind the move is that, if the kick is good (as it was for Auburn the first time), mentally it will be that much tougher on the kicker as he basically has to make the same kick twice to win the game instead of just once.

Now, while I know "icing the kicker" has been a part of the game forever, I'm not sure how I feel about this. I guess if it was my coach who did it and it led to victory, I'd call it brilliant coaching. I guess. But as a general college football fan, I'm not as onboard.

Technically it's legal but for some reason it feels like it violates the spirit of the game and its rules. Victory by lawyer-discovered loophole. Similar to the kick-off clock loophole that allowed Wisconsin coach Brett Bulimia (or however you spell it) to burn up the last 40 seconds or so of a tight game last year by going offsides over and over again until the final gun sounded. Or like when former CU and U-Dub coach Rick Neuheisel - during periods when it was forbidden to visit recruits - used to sit out in front of their homes and call them on his cellphone, telling them to look outside where he would wave at them (like Benny always does with girls he's wooing before the inevitable restraining order is issued).

And what if a team has three timeouts? Does that mean the kicker must make the field goal four times in row? Is that really how we want games decided?

Then again, with Michigan's kicking game in shambles (3-9 so far this year), it may take our kicker four tries to make one. So maybe there is a silver lining here after all.

What do you think of the "Timeout Ploy?"
Smart coaching
Loophole that needs to be closed
pollcode.com free polls


Matt said...

That comment about our kicker is hilarious.

My dad is a Browns fan, and neither one of us is too happy about what happened at the end of the game against the Raiders.

Katie said...

Another example of Meyer being the biggest Ass in College Football ever. I would rather have Carr than an ass like Meyer.

whetstonebuck said...

I agree with you. I find such a ploy destroys the spirit of the college game. It's about the heart and soul of young men testing their metal against one another for college, family, fans. I know the sport isn't pure, but I like to think that it is. It gives me hope. This chicken-doodoo kicking strategy violates all that is right with college football.

I can see using it in the professional game. It fits with all the attitudes and obscene money. Another reason I don't watch pro football anymore.

Thanks for bringing this up. I’ve been on a slow burn since I saw Meyer the Punk use it. I hope his program implodes.

Da Vest said...

Spot on Yost.

But then, how great was it to see the Auburn kicker make both and then do the gator chomp as he ran off the field. Mega props to him.

Melissa said...

As a die hard Auburn fan, I am glad to see that most true college football fans think that Urban Meyer disgraced the sport with his "coaching" at Saturday's Auburn/Florida game. I am more proud, however, of our true freshman kicker for coming out and making the kick. TWICE. So eat that, Urban.
And better yet, it is so great to have who I think is the classies college coach around today, Tommy Tuberville representing us. I would like it noted that he was a perfect southern gentleman after the game and said nothing derogatory about Urban or his underhanded timeout call. As a maatter of fact, he gave Florida credit for a good game.Urban, on the other hand, was quoted on national television as saying the game "Sucked". And gave T.T. nor Auburn any congrats or props. What a loser.

srudoff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
srudoff said...

fwiw, wisconsin didn't kick out of bounds, they just let their coverage guys start running downfield 4 seconds before they kicked so their guys would be on top of the kick returner to stop any potential returns - then they'd just keep kicking over from 5 yards back with the elapsed time taken off the clock each time. if they kicked out of bounds, the other team (penn st i think) would just elect to take it at the 40.

this rule sucks though - they need to make sure that the line judge blows that whistle as loud as possible so the kicking team doesn't go through the motion. when the raiders did it to the browns, phil dawson said he never once heard a whistle - that's the part that sucks.

of course the beautiful thing would have been Auburn missing the first kick and then nailing the second.

The King said...

I'm pretty sure that Bielma invented this one too, actually. That's what they said during the telecast.

He must have sat down with his staff early last season and just said. OK. Find me all the loopholes.

Yost said...

My bad, sru. You're right.

Did Bulimia discover this one, too? Good god, no wonder their offense has no imagination -- he's just looking for loopholes.

Jennifer said...

I think it was bushleague and classless and typical Urban Meyer. I would not have been pleased had Coach Tubby done that - like someone said, it's one thing to do that to pro athletes who get paid big $$$ to make or break a win. But for a head coach to do that in a college game - the game should be won or lost by the PLAYERS ON THE FIELD - that was almost like Meyer was suiting up himself to try and block the kick - and that goes against the grain of college sports.

We Auburn people are proud as hell of Wes. Ice water in the veins of a true freshman - whooda thunk it? The other sweet spot to this story - told to a friend of mine right from Wes's parents' own lips - Wes is FROM Florida, and probably would have gone to Florida. But Florida didn't come after him very hard, so he committed to Auburn. Then one of Meyer's assnt coaches told Meyer they would regret not getting Wes, so Meyer called up and asked if he was sold on Auburn. His parents told Meyer that Wes lives up to his committments and would be going to Auburn. They told my friend this weekend that they are now thrilled by that decision and are happy and proud Auburn fans.

Let Urban chomp on that.

War Eagle!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yant said...

As a Florida fan who was at the game, I felt it was a great call by Urban - a biased opinion of course. In retrospect it does come back as being a little bush league, but what can you do? It's not a loophole that can be easily tied up - you can't just outlaw timeouts during game winning field goals.

In the end, it comes down to Wins and Losses being more important than questionable ethics. When the kick means the difference between a chance at a conference or even national championship (and with the impending "Cumberland-ing" at LSU next week, that's exactly what was on the line) you can't blame a man for taking every possible step to win a game. It wasn't against any rules, it was just a little bit dick. I'd expect any other coach to do it in the same situation. And our kicker will miss the second one.

Hell of a game, though. I never understood why good special teams players are never recruited to Florida. After the Chris Hetland disaster last year you'd think they'd recruit a kicker. Oh well.

srudoff said...


this probably isn't the best place to come complaining about your kicker :)

Flop said...

Thumbs down.

It's a dick move anywhere but at least defensible at the professional level. Playing mind games with an 18-year-old should be beneath some grown men, but apparently isn't.

Especially at the college level, there's more to the game than maximizing shareholder return.

OnWisconsin! said...

I find it amusing how much Bielema gets under everyone's skin.

Jessica said...

My opinion of Urban Meyer as pond scum was formed last season, and this only reinforces it. I was watching the game and said a number of things I won't repeat here when he pulled that little stunt. Disgusting.

Grats to the kicker on winning the game twice. Hell of a job.

whetstonebuck said...


I feel your pain (Jan. 07), however, I must disagree. As you said, it was a dick move. We do what we believe--not what we preach. Therefore, Meyer is a dick.

If our character is questionable no amount of wins will make up for the damage...to us, the institution we represent, our family, college football, our nation.

Questionable ethics is destroying our culture. We don't have to participate. It's a character choice.

WingRG said...


if only the loss counted twice for the pollsters, we'd all be happy.


i wouldn't want my coach to be famous for finding loopholes. Of course, it's hard to tell how good of a coach he really is, since Badgers only played/beat 1 good team in his whole tenure there (Arkansas).

OnWisconsin! said...


WingRG said...


that's what i was saying watching your guys play Sparty ... That and "is anybody in this game going to play any defense?"

OnWisconsin! said...

I would be interested to see what the Wisconsin coaching staffs over the last 15 years would have done with Michigan's resources.

god of the whoppers said...

I personally think that after the offensive linemen are down, you can't stop a play unless it is delay of game or false start, etc. you have all the time in the world to call a TO, but once the the big boys get in their stance, too late. I think this should go for the pros too. i was sad to see oakland have their second kick bounce off the top of the pole after they nailed the first one.

WingRG said...

Barry would have Badgers #1 in B10 with Michigan's talent. I have nothing but respect for him.

OnWisconsin! said...

And that upstart Bielema needs to learn his place right?

Also FWIW, Yost's comments aren't accurate.

"Similar to the kick-off clock loophole that allowed Wisconsin coach Brett Bulimia (or however you spell it) to burn up the last 40 seconds or so of a tight game last year by constantly kicking out of bounds until the final gun sounded."

Bielema did this at the end of the first half against Penn St last year.
I don't remember if there were 40 seconds left and I am too lazy to look it up.
It seemed like less time was left but it's hard to remember now...

kowisja said...

1) I happened to think of the kick off clock loophole before wisconsin did it. There was a game the previous week that had a kick called back for a legitimate penalty on a kickoff and time was taken off. I didn't expect any coach to actually exploit it. My guess was Bielma saw this same game and noticed the clock wasn't reset.

2) I believe there is a rule where the same team cannot call two time outs back to back without a play happening. I could be mistaken.

WingRG said...

No, i just think he gets a lot of credit for winning with Barry's players, when, in fact, nobody really knows how good his team is.

I also think that he needs to have more respect for the game: if he wants to use a trick play i'm fine with that, but running the clock off by REPEATEDLY getting your team to commit a penalty is IMHO disrespectful to the game/fans.

Obviously, you don't have to agree, but i bet your opinion would change if it wasn't a Badger coach doing it.

Dawgs81 said...

Urban Meyer does this=douche.

Mark Richt does this=genius.

I wish the kid would have missed the first one when Urban called timeout and then made the second one.

I also am uncertain how "Superman" Tebow did not fly in and knock this ball away from the goalposts, Holly Rowe "Could just feel his leadership all over the field."

Spartan Bob said...

There's a flipside to this. What if the kicker blows the kick, or has it blocked, thinks he's lost, and then finds out it's a do-over and wins the game?

Just as plausible. Then Meyer is an ass to HIS OWN fans and Auburn people love him.

That it has worked so far without backfire is probably a reflection on the difficulty of the FG tries. I doubt this gets used on a 50+ try unless the kicker is the second coming of Jason Hansen.

It's part of the game, and like any part of the game can backfire. Stop worrying it.

OnWisconsin! said...

I think that you are carrying a lot of anger around about an obscure (and stupid) rule that a coach for a team that you don't root for exploited against another team that you don't root for, last November, making zero impact on the outcome of a very pedestrian 13-3 game.
Thank goodness you are here to defend the sanctity of the game...

And BTW, Bielema recruited many of the players on the Badgers.
For this reason you can blame him for the defense being poor this year but he is 17-1 as a head coach.

WingRG said...

i could care less, basically, but i would like to have the rule changed so it doesn't happen again. It's just that i care a lot more about that game (since it was in the B10) than i do about what Urban Meyer does. I'm sorry if my posts came across as angry, it's just a slow day in the lab.

OnWisconsin! said...

The rule was rescinded after last season.
IMO in large part due to Bielema's stunt against Penn St.

WingRG said...

Excellent, then you're right, i don't have to worry about it ...

Schiano for President! said...

you should be rewarded for preserving your valuable second half times out. not penalized.

with that said, an extremely cheesy maneuver.

IamCris said...

Three things in order of importance...

1) Lloyd owns Meyer 2-0
2) Lloyd owns Bilema 1-0
3) What's next? Timeouts in Pop Warner right before the winning kick? WTF America...let's save something for our children...thanks. =0)

Williesan said...

After we saw this ploy used in the Raiders-Broncos game 2 weeks ago, my wife asked me if that was legal. Sadly I had to reply that it was.

I see a rule tweak (in the NCAA and NFL) that once the offensive team (not just when it is a kicking situation) breaks the huddle and lines up that all timeout requests must come from a player legally on the field (i.e. no jumping off the bench, running in front of the zebra and calling TO.)

A coach calling a TO like the cases we've seen this year takes the control of the game away from where it should be: the players.


Yant said...

Everyone seems to be making a big deal about how "these are just kids" and Urban's tactics on the game winning kick should be left to the pros. Does anyone remember that these football teams are big business? Tens of millions of dollars in income is generated by the UF football team, and Urban Meyer commands a salary over $3 Million. Doesn't a small portion of the fanbase feel that players should be paid? Most players are already given a free education in exchange for play. I don't see how you can make the "leave it in the pros" argument when so much is on the line in these games.

To quote Dan Hawkins: "Go play intramurals, Brother! It's Division One Football!"

It's icing a kicker. Next people are going to complain that it's bush league for a coach to ask for fans to make noise, because it disrupts the other team.

Ordinary Human said...

To be honest with you, Urban Meyer is a punk, he's over rated, overpaid and since they can barely read and write at UF, I can see why the fans are so rabid. That was a tacky and unsportsmanlike move that he pulled, just because he did not want to lose fair and square. What is happening to the honesty in this country, I hope they get their butts waxed by somebody like south florida.

OnWisconsin! said...

I wouldn't trade you Bielema for Carr...

Gus Chiggins said...

The one thing to worry about in this situation is the fact that Meyer was cutting it soooo close on his timeout call that what if the kicker had missed, and then there was some dispute as to whether or not he had gotten the call in time? All the while, it was quite obvious what his intentions were standing there with his hand on the referee's shoulder.

WillieMayesHayes said...

"And what if a team has three timeouts? Does that mean the kicker must make the field goal four times in row?"

I could be wrong, but I thought the same team could not call consecutive timeouts without a play in between?

Williesan said...

williemayeshayes: on successive TO's - Only in the NFL.

yant: On your "icing the kicker" comment, I have zero problem with icing a kicker. Call your 3 TO's successively. If the kicker is good, then it shouldn't bother him one bit. (See vonShaumann vs.tOSU circa 1978.) The problem I have is with coaches who insist on running the game from the sidelines by calling TO's when the ball is about to be snapped a la Urban Meyer last weekend. If the coach wants a TO called, get his player's attention from the sidelines, or legally send a player onto the field with directions to make the TO call.


WillieMayesHayes said...

Ahh, I thought that might be the case. Thanks for clarifying.

IamCris said...

On Wisconsin

what about Barry Alvarez for Carr back in the day?

Go play someone will ya?

James said...

What he did was within the rules of the game. Don't get me wrong, I HATE UF, but if a rule exists that can be exploited, it will eventually be used against you.

The NCAA (National Coalition Against Athletes) needs to make an adjustment to the rules. Easy. For FG attempts at ANY point in a game, TO's can only be called by players in the field of play. Problem solved.

There are few coaches under the pressure of being a coach at a high profile school that would not employ what Urban Crier did to stay in the NC hunt. You just have not seen them in the same position.

Bush league? How can doing something within the rules as they stand be considered bush league? The problem is that the NCAA does not consider consequences of rule changes thoroughly. They are completely REACTIVE instead of proactive.

The abysmal clock rules last season are a glaring indication of that. Starting the clock on change of possession before the snap? Why were 3 timeouts designated in the 1st place? To be able to stop a drive and lose little time if you hold on to all 3 and stop the other team on 3 plays. They changed the game from this standpoint COMPLETELY to get in more commercials and shorten games at the expense of what was in place for good reason.

How about starting it on kickoffs before the receiver touches the ball? Dumb and it was exploited successfully. The beauty is Urbie's deal made it twice as sweet to see him lose.

What if the kicker missed the first one then hit the 2nd? Would people be as outraged?