Michigan’s Awful Day: College Football Cavalcade of Whimsy, Oct. 20

    From Michigan's misery, to the right comp for the play, to why you shouldn't feel that badly for Blake O'Neill, Pete Fiutak comments on all the last week.

    October 20, 2015


    Follow and/or Contact or Baskets of Mini Muffins to @PeteFiutak

    Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault …

    It should’ve been the most glorious moment of my life. Just when the column was about to suffer a crippling loss, a miracle occurred and I pulled it out of the fire in historic fashion. However, as joyful as the moment was, I was also in searing, insufferable pain having dislocated my hip just as I was finishing it off. At the peak of my anguish, and just as I was on my way to take the steps needed to improve the column and improve my life, Pat Haden’s attempts to inform me that I was no longer the head football coach at USC were unsuccessful.

    “If there is anything that this horrible tragedy can teach us, it’s that a male model’s life is a precious, precious commodity.”


    Oh, boo hoo for Blake O’Neill.

    He’s a college kid playing football for the University of Michigan. Not only does the punter have a name that sounds like a Nick Jr. character whose poster is on my kid’s wall, and not only does the Australia native have a Hemsworth accent happening, but the guy is a genetics lotto winner who makes ends meet by “working” as a male model.

    If you look like this, you’re 22, you’re a college student, and you play for Michigan, you get over your pain and anguish from a tough game by doing something wildly fascinating with someone perky.

    So he dropped a ball and lost a game in one of the most heart-ripping moments in college football history, and now he’s got a bunch of doorknobs tweeting cold pricklies his way. I get angry social media firebombs every other minute, but I’m old, have to eat fiber, gained five pounds over the first month of the football season, and have to figure out how to fit a 27” washing machine through a 26” door.

    Biff a punt snap? Pfffft. Whatever.

    Blake O’Neill, any time you want to trade lives, drop me a line – oops, I said drop – and let’s make it happen.

    In all fairness to O’Neill, it’s not like he had any sort of a prayer if he fielded the snap cleanly. Michigan State was all over the backfield and was about to swarm him under the avalanche no matter what.

    And as O’Neill was being wrestled backwards, and at that split-second the ball hung in the air, Pat Haden’s attempts to inform him that he was no longer the head football coach at USC were unsuccessful.

    And yes, the Time Out really was worse

    You’ll have to forgive me. I have to run out to get a nice tray of rugelach on my way to sit shivah with my inconsolable friends who went to Michigan – because they don’t say or wear the word Michigan enough. This might be a game played by a bunch of goofy kids, but if you bleed maize and blue, you never get over this loss. Ever. Even if you’re able to rationalize it, and even if you stop liking college football, you’ll be reminded of this game and this moment at least a few times a year for the rest of your life and each time be a wee bit grouchy for a few minutes after.

    If you’re a Michigan fan, just take the WZZM report and let it stop there

    Everyone immediately wanted to compare the Big House Bobble to the Auburn Kick Six – which isn’t quite right since that was for a spot, with some due respect to 2013 Missouri, in the BCS championship. But that’s not quite right, and neither is comparing this to the Stanford band play, the standard to which all quirky finishes are measured by. And it’s not really comparable to any Hail Mary you can think of, since those sort of have their own special category. My comparison is a little more obscure.

    This wasn’t just about losing a game for Michigan, obviously, and it wasn’t just about an unfortunate play – Georgia wide receiver Reggie Davis dropped an almost-certain game-winning touchdown pass against Tennessee and no one said boo about it. This was about a delay – nothing more.

    Michigan is going to be terrific for years to come under Jim Harbaugh, and it still might have everything on the table this year. Michigan State could certainly lose at Nebraska and at Ohio State, and it could absolutely gag away a home game to Indiana if the Hoosier offense gets hot. If that happens, it’s Ohio State vs. Michigan for the Big Ten East. I’ll say it – if Michigan beats an unbeaten Ohio State and goes on to beat a 12-0 Iowa – or even an 11-1 Iowa – it’s in the playoff. The loss at Utah and that loss to MSU are about as acceptable as it gets.

    But that’s not why you called.

    In 1998, Kansas State was about to take an epic and historic step as a program. All it had to do was beat Texas A&M in the Big 12 championship and it was off to play Tennessee for the national title. Up 27-12 in the fourth quarter, it was celebration time with players starting to feel it on the sidelines, but the Aggies made it close on a Leroy Hodge touchdown catch. The Wildcats couldn’t close, and with just over a minute to play, A&M pulled within two on a Sirr Parker catch and run for a score. No worries – if K-State stops the two-point conversion, it’s on to Arizona. Instead, Parker caught the two-point pass to tie it, scored on a 32-yard pass play in double OT for the Aggie win, and the Wildcats went from the ultimate excitement to soul-crushing defeat just like that. It might not have been as dramatic as the one play disaster at Michigan, but in terms of sheer heartache for a desperate fan base, that was as close as it comes.

    Dude picked the wrong week to come up with one of the greatest plays of all-time

    Three reasons why the NFL sort of sucks. 1) That Golden Tate catch wasn’t really a catch, and I lost my fantasy game with the top team because of it, 2) not even the NFL officiating experts can agree on exactly what a catch really is anymore, even if they’re all seeing the same thing, 3) Stanford’s Francis Owusu’s epic play against UCLA would be ruled incomplete at the next level.

    ”Ah, you’re right, Ed. A parachute not opening… that’s a way to die. Getting caught in the gears of a combine… having your nuts bit off by a Laplander, that’s the way I wanna go.”

    Someday I’ll probably die. If that time comes, if I’m among the truly fortunate, at the end I’ll have all the people I love and hold dear nearby so I’m able to tell them just how much they all mean to me and how special they truly are.

    Or I’ll go out on a $75,000 round-the-clock binge of hooker sex, cocaine, and performance enhancing substances – I haven’t decided yet.

    And just when I’m at the most fearful, desperate and vulnerable point before moving to the great beyond, Pat Haden’s attempts to inform me that I’m no longer the head football coach at USC will be unsuccessful.

    A week after everything went down, and with a chance to put it all into a little bit of perspective, Pat Haden did what he had to do, considering he had Steve Sarkisian on a zero-tolerance policy and he wanted to take the program in a different direction. Haden really did try to do the right thing in terms of trying to get ahold of the guy he was going to fire, but did it HAVE to happen so fast? Couldn’t it wait to do it in person a few weeks later?

    On a Sunday, Sarkisian was put on an indefinite leave of absence, which seemed like it was the compassionate move, even with all the issues involved. It’s not like USC is going to hire another coach over the next month, anyway, so the idea of letting the guy get his life back in order appeared to be the prudent course of action. If Sarkisian was a good enough head coach to be hired in the first place, then he’s a good enough head coach to be given the chance to get sober to see what he could become.

    And on a Monday, he was fired.

    There really was no perfect way to handle this, but looking back, it all seemed very, very cold.

    ”Coming into your own, are you Melon?”

    Good for you, American Athletic Conference. The Big East has always been about basketball, but there was a time when it was part of the ruling class of the football world with Miami, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Syracuse, Boston College and Pitt formed the base of a heck of a league. The spin-off from the Big East’s football demise – the American Athletic – was treated rudely upon arrival, being a part of the six “power conferences” in the BCS era before the powers-that-be fixed the glitch. Now it’s been pushed into a “Group” without the “Power” part of the equation.

    A feeding ground for conference expansion, the league lost in the realignment/expansion game, but now it’s coming up with a whale of a season.

    Houston, Memphis, Temple and Navy – don’t forget about the Midshipmen, which might turn out to win the league title when all is said and done – are all in the hunt for the automatic New Year’s Six slot, but there’s a chance for so much more.

    Houston has a win over Louisville and a date with Vanderbilt coming up. Temple already beat Penn State and has Notre Dame on the docket. Cincinnati beat Miami, East Carolina beat Virginia Tech, and, of course, Memphis got by Ole Miss last week. It’s going to take a miracle to get into the playoff – there’s already going to be at least one Power Five champ without a chair when the music stops – but a 13-0 American Athletic champ will deserve to be in the discussion.

    “The typical American now consumes approximately three hamburgers and four orders of french fries every week.”

    How many Texas fans crying over the loss of a mascot later fired down a double cheeseburger or skirt steak sandwich?

    The sure-thing, 100%, rock-solid lock, sell the house, sell the kids, no doubt about it picks of the century for this week

    Ugh … 2-2 – REALLY, Nevada? Wyoming? – even with nailing the Michigan State straight up pick with no problems whatsoever.
    – 20-5 straight up so far, 16-9 against the spread

    1. Indiana +16.5 over Michigan State (but MSU straight up)
    2. Missouri -2.5 over Vanderbilt
    3. Wisconsin -7 over Illinois
    4. Louisville -7.5 over Boston College

    C.O.W. shameless gimmick item …

    The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world.

    1) Overrated: Ohio State wearing black uniforms … Underrated: It being mid-to-late October and Urban still doesn’t have his QBs figured out

    2) Overrated: Blake O’Neill’s football career … Underrated: Al Bundy’s football career

    3) Overrated: Michigan fans’ misery … Underrated: Michigan State fans’ joy

    4) Overrated: Bobby Petrino’s “Wooooo pig, sooey” after quitting on the Falcons … Underrated: Steve Spurrier on GameDay after quitting on the South Carolina (PLEASE, Ball Coach, get in the booth)

    5) Overrated: Bernie Sanders … Underrated: Larry David as Bernie Sanders

    Sorry if this column sucked, I wasn’t my fault …

    After starting out terrific, it started to irreparably suck after a few blurbs. I woke up one morning after watching UCF, realized it sucked, and quit on it rather than try to make something I put together better. Shawn Elliott stepped in with more energy and got the win.

    MORE: Week 7 College Football Rankings, No. 1-128

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