LSU / Auburn: The myth of the last second

It”s a shame that the incorrect and hysterical ranting of ESPN”s announcers following LSU”s brilliant touchdown pass to beat Auburn last night is being adopted as reality. “If that ball is incomplete – they lose. THEY LOSE!” said ESPN”s Mike Patrick after the touchdown.

“If he even bobbles that, the clock runs out!” followed Todd Blackledge.

Then, after a few moments of calm reflection following one of the most surprising and brilliant plays of the year, Patrick gave us this nugget:

“Here”s the situation – if that ball is incomplete, you have a timeout in your pocket when a field goal would have won the game. And you have blown it. And everything is gone. Your season is done.”

Um, yeah.

Here”s how things actually stood when when Demetrius Byrd came down with the pass in the endzone:

See the “:04″ up there in the score bar? That”s how much time was actually left when the play ended. The refs waited a couple of seconds to make sure Byrd came down with the pass and was in bounds, so that ran it down to :01. And don”t discount the hometown scoreboard guy effect.

If that pass falls incomplete or is bobbled, there”s still 2-3 seconds left on the clock. And Patrick”s “If that ball is incomplete – they lose …” comment is just flat-out ridiculous considering there was still 1 second on the clock after the completion … which runs more time than an incompletion.

ESPN opted for “good TV” over informed analysis, which is not surprising for a network that trots celebrities out to present the opening lineups as the actual game progresses without comment in the background and where a feature on Glenn Dorsey hanging out with a handicapped kid takes precedent over updating the viewers on Dorsey”s injury.

But ESPN”s manufactured drama is now being picked up by “journalists” covering the LSU win.

- Rivals.com”s Steve Megargee says “If the pass had been deflected or dropped, time may have run out before LSU (7-1 overall, 4-1 in the SEC) could have attempted a field goal.”

- ESPN.com”s Chris Low says “A bobble and an incompletion, and the game”s over with Auburn walking away with a one-point victory and LSU coach Les Miles being hanged in effigy in the Bayou.”

- Deadspin.com also took that bait, saying “Were the ball, say, tipped by the cornerback in the end zone, perhaps that extra second falls off the clock, and Les Miles is given the warmth and love from fans and boosters rivaled only by Lloyd Carr in September”.

I guess that”s what happens when you write about what ESPN said, not what actually happened in the game.

- Even Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp apparently watched ESPN to decide how to react, telling the AP “If we tip the ball in the end zone, the game”s over”. Sorry, not true. Maybe, Will, if you recognized the soft spot in your defense the game might have been over, but the clock wasn”t an issue.

Yes, LSU cut it close. But the clock was manageable, and Matt Flynn managed it. That ball was either going to get caught, or the Tigers would have had a couple of seconds left on the clock.

Great call.

The ESPN announcers would have liked to see LSU call a timeout to set up a final heave to the endzone, but that would have played right into Auburn”s hands. What made the call brilliant was that LSU kept Auburn from thinking Flynn would go to the endzone.

That”s what makes a great call a great call – the other team”s not expecting it. And what makes for great game analysis and reporting is actually understanding what happened on the field. Too much to ask, I guess.

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One Response to “LSU / Auburn: The myth of the last second”

  1. [...] that a $3.8 million man could be so incompetent. But what happened in the 2007 Auburn game is the Myth of The Last Second, as I explained two years [...]

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