A far worse call — or non-call — also didn’t affect an outcome but was absolutely baffling. Late in the first half of Alabama’s 38-10 rout of Florida, Gators quarterback John Brantley was sacked and fumbled. Brantley and an Alabama lineman wrestled for the ball and the Alabama player finally came up with it. The minute Brantley fumbled, the referee tossed his beanbag to mark the spot of the fumble. When the Alabama player picked the ball up, he began backpedaling, clearly because the play was still in progress.
The Alabama player, confused at first, finally ran into the end zone. By then, another official had (apparently) told the referee he thought Brantley was down before the fumble. The play should at least have been reviewed. The referee nodded and then told the crowd: “Timeout Florida,” explaining nothing. Even CBS’s Verne Lundquist said, “Well, that doesn’t tell us much, does it?”
It didn’t. As it turned out, Florida suffered the most as a result of the mystery call because Brantley was sacked again and injured on the next play.
The announcing doesn’t affect outcomes, thankfully, but can someone explain this one from ESPN’s Mark Jones: “It took great courage on the part of [Clemson Coach] Dabo Swinney to hire Chad Morris, didn’t it?” (Morris only had one year of college experience when Swinney hired him as offensive coordinator.) Courage? It takes courage to hire an assistant football coach?
Question: Did the Old Ball Coach (a.k.a. Steve Spurrier) prove himself a genius once again by giving quarterback Stephen Garcia more lives at South Carolina than a cat, suspending and reinstating him about every 15 minutes for five years?
Answer: Absolutely not. Saturday was Garcia’s chance to pay Spurrier back for all those last chances. Down 16-13 to Auburn with 1 minute 41 seconds and two timeouts left, Garcia had every opportunity to lead a memorable drive to at least tie the score. He didn’t, and only a very questionable roughing-the-passer call (see “officials are awful” reference above) even made it close. Garcia is no Steve Spurrier.
Final question (please, hold your applause): Can Ralph Friedgen fit under a bus?
Answer: Amazingly, he can. After declaring on Tuesday that, “I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus,” Randy Edsall, Friedgen’s successor at Maryland, threw Friedgen so far under the bus that he actually fit underneath with room to spare. Tire marks on his face and all, Friedgen found time to burn his Maryland diploma. Lucky for Edsall, the schedule produced Towson as Saturday’s opponent.
For more by the author, visit his blog at www.feinsteinonthebrink.com.