4 Down Territory- 11/18/13 by Sam Pouncey

Apples to Oranges: Stop Trying to Compare Football to Basketball

Immaculate Deflection: The Heartbreaking Side of the Miracle

Pet Peeve #1: Quit Blaming the Refs

Ed Orgeron

I’m back everybody.  I’m sorry for not posting last week.  I was finishing up my medical school applications and just did not feel like I could write a quality product that all of you deserve.

 First Down-Apples to Oranges

One of my favorite things about the month of November is that basketball season has started, giving us something else to watch when football isn’t on television.  One of the things I hate most is that every year people start clamoring for a college football playoff, like we’re getting next year.  Except now that we have it, everyone is saying that we need an expanded playoff, like the NCAA basketball tournament.

They cite reasons like “Cinderella” bids, everyone getting a fair chance, and getting to see more football.  Another reason that has recently come into the mix is that in college basketball there are significantly more big time out-of-conference matchups than in football.  This is because of the “no room for error” nature of college football.

These arguments all have weight, but they are all also completely unfair because football is, by nature, just completely different than basketball.

For starters, National Champion Louisville played 40 basketball games last season.  The maximum any college football team could play in a season is 14.  This is why teams can afford to schedule matchups against quality out-of-conference regular season games, not because of the playoff structure.

If you take a test with 50 questions and then another with 10 questions, which one can you miss more questions on and still come out with a good grade?

Another reason is the presence of in-season tournaments in basketball.  These allow for the potential for big time teams to play each other in the regular season.  You can’t play tournaments like this in football, because the nature of the game does not allow players to play games as frequently.  If you tried to do even a 4-team playoff over a weekend with four top 25 college football teams participating, then the championship game would by abysmally sloppy because both teams would be exhausted.  Basketball, on the other hand, is more easily recovered from, therefore teams can play on Thursday and then again on Saturday.

Lastly, football is a game that produces generally less parity than basketball, particularly at the college level.  It is true that the NFL has the most parity of any professional sports league, but I believe that has more to do with the league rules as far as salary caps and roster rules than the sport itself.  Look at the NCAA tournament though.  There are years when very low seeds make it deep in the tournament.  Last year, Florida Gulf Coast, a 15-seed, upset second-seeded Georgetown in the first round.  In football terms, that would be akin to North Texas beating Oregon.

Does anybody think if those teams played ten times that North Texas would win once?  It is just easier for a team with a talent disparity to have one on night, or player for that matter, and pull an upset in basketball than it is in football.

These two sports are just different.  Enjoy both of them without trying to turn one into the other.

 Second Down- Immaculate Deflection

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I was there.  This was the most heartbreaking sports moment for me since Tim Simon took a pitch 45-yards to the house one play after a crucial fourth down conversion to give the Cordova Blue Devils a 54-40 lead over my Trinity Wildcats in the 2008 3A state playoffs, effectively ending my football career.

I’m no physicist, but the odds of that ball being deflected at that angle, in that manner, and in that distance to perfectly fall into range of Ricardo Louis grasp have to be astronomical.  I have to admit it’s the play of the year so far, and it will go down in history with the “Bluegrass Miracle” and other famous Hail Mary’s as one of the better plays in college football history.

After Auburn dominated most of the game, their offense inexplicably stalled and the Georgia offense caught second wind to storm back from a 20-point deficit with ten minutes left in the game to take a 38-37 lead with just under two minutes remaining.

Then things got crazy.

After one Auburn first down, a screen pass to Sammy Coates on first down lost two yards, then an incompletion and a sack left Auburn with a 4th and 18.  Then the “tip heard ‘round the world” happened and the Aubs won.

Defensive backs coaches, at all levels, will save the video of this play as a prime example of why on 4th down or the last play of a half defensive backs have to BAT THE BALL DOWN.  An interception is irrelevant at that point in the game.  If that ball is swatted straight down like it should have been then Auburn loses.  If the secondary has had this effectively driven into their brains to the point where it’s second nature, then Georgia would still have a mathematical chance to win the SEC East.

Third Down-Pet Peeve #1

Quit blaming the refs.

Do me a favor, better yet do yourself a favor.  Quit blaming the referees every time your team loses or looks flat against an inferior opponent.  You just look and sound like an idiot and a whiny, petulant little crybaby.

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I’m sick of hearing it.

The referees affect the outcome of a game maybe one time every few seasons, including both college and professional levels.  Do referees blow calls?  Certainly.  They are, after all, human beings.  However, this almost never influences the outcome of a game.  I can think of three games since 1990 that have had the outcomes directly influenced by officiating gaffes.

One is the 1990 5th down game.  In this contest, between Colorado and Missouri, Colorado was mistakenly given five downs at the very end of regulation after they spiked the ball on 1st down and the chain crew failed to record it as a down.  On the 5th down, Colorado scored on a quarterback run as time expired to win the game 33-31.

The only NFL game is the 2012 “Fail Mary” game between Seattle and Green Bay, and those were replacement referees so can it really count?

The last is the 2006 Oregon-Oklahoma game, where two officiating mistakes on the same play gave Oregon the ball after an onside kick that was, both touched by an Oregon player before travelling the required ten yards and recovered by Oklahoma.  Nonetheless, Oregon was awarded the ball and went on to score a touchdown and win 34-33.  If the refs make the right call there, Oklahoma wins the game, but also if they stop them anywhere along the way they also win.  The refs influenced the game, but by no stretch of the imagination shoulder the entire burden of guilt, there or ever.

Last thing on this topic, for the love of all that is good please never tell me that the refs “wanted them to win.”

That just doesn’t happen, unless Tim Donaghy is officiating.  These referees go through background checks.  They will not let a referee call a game if he/she might even slightly have a conflict of interest.  The refs never “want” anyone to win, or make calls to ensure that a team wins or has a better shot at it.

If you ever hear me blame officiating for my team losing a game just calmly call me a hypocrite and proceed to punch me as hard as you can in the face.

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Fourth Down- Coach O

Coach Orgeron has had the season of his coaching career.  After a 3-2 record to start their season and embarrassing loss to Arizona State in which they gave up 62 points, the USC Trojans fired head coach Lane Kiffin.  USC then named Ed Orgeron its interim head coach.  Since then, they have gone 5-1 and are currently 23rd in the freshly released BCS standings after upsetting previously 4th ranked Stanford.

Those of us in SEC country, remember Coach “O” as the 2005-2007 head coach of the Ole Miss Rebels who went 3-21 in conference play.

He may not have had success at Ole Miss, but he is the defensive mind the USC Trojans needed at the helm to finish the year.  He has done a commendable job so far this season.

The question is should he be hired as the permanent head coach?

USC has confirmed that they interviewed current Denver Broncos Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio last weekend during Denver’s bye week.  He was my reasonable number one target from the beginning, and if they can get him they should.  He is a defensive mind with an NFL pedigree.  He also played linebacker at USC.

Others think Texas A&M Head Coach Kevin Sumlin is the man for the job, and he certainly deserves consideration.  However, if USC can’t land a big hire they should consider hiring Orgeron and looking for a young, potentially electrifying offensive coordinator, much like Kliff Kingsbury was at Texas A&M before taking the Texas Tech gig.

As long as he can keep from ripping his shirt off and saying something strange about Brent Schaeffer and white boys, Coach “O” has at least earned the right to be in the conversation.

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One thought on “4 Down Territory- 11/18/13 by Sam Pouncey

  1. I hope one day I hear you blame officiating for your team losing a game so I can calmly call you a hypocrite and proceed to punch you as hard as I can in the face.

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