The talking about the penultimate play of the Notre Dame-Florida State game Saturday night will go on for years, decades. Like arguments about JFK assassination conspiracy theories, or about how the towers fell in 2001, pretty much nothing will be achieved by the endless back and forth, but that never stops the obsessed. Check any comments section in articles about this game. Occasional substantive points do come up, but the comments invariably devolve into your basic trolling abusiveness. The guy who painstakingly makes his case in one post, tells another poster to suck his dick down the page.
I’ve had a couple of days to think about it. For what it’s worth, in my personal Zapruder film of the game, this grainy screen cap tells the whole story. PJ Williams, FSU’s #26, is the man on the grassy knoll, or the guy with the umbrella. (Were they the same guy???) Williams appears to be responsible for Corey Robinson (#88)* and for reasons known only to him, he chose to move to the middle on the snap. I don’t think he was on the same page as his teammates (#3 and #8). His move inside left two defenders to cover three ND receivers on the right side of the field. LOOK WHERE WILLIAMS IS RELATIVE TO HIS MAN ROBINSON. (ALL CAPS–another indicator I’ve become one of the crazies)….
Prosise and Fuller, the two ND receivers “engaging with” FSU’s defenders, could have stepped back off the line, bowed, and waved Williams through, and Williams would never have come near Robinson. This contact everyone is yammering about, which to me looks pretty clearly initiated (and sustained) by FSU’s backs, is irrelevant. Williams lost his man, who was wide open and walked into the end zone. All the TV talking heads in the world saying The Refs Got It Right won’t nullify that.
So there. I’ve spoken my piece. FSU won. They played great. Both teams did. It’s over. A big setback for Notre Dame, no doubt. If they are to have a chance of making the four-team playoff, the Irish will have to win out, which they would have had to do that even if they got the W in Tallahassee. With Arizona State and USC road games looming (and believe me, they could still stumble against Navy), that looks like a pretty tall order. But not an impossible one.
College football is one of the great grotesque and excessive but infinitely appealing spectacles of the western world, like rock ‘n’ roll or the World Cup or Paris Fashion Week or the Academy Awards. All that training, all that extreme body modification, all that money. ND’s program looks pretty pristine compared to FSU’s, but that’s a long way from saying it’s clean, or even a remotely rational use of resources.
My senior year at ND, back from a Year Abroad, which turned me into an intolerably affected pseudo-European, I sold my football season ticket booklet for something like $49, face value. I used to think I was above it all. But the older I get, the more I realize I’m not.
And see, I haven’t even mentioned THIS!!!!
UPDATE: Today (Monday) I just came upon a pretty good video analysis of The Play from South Bend sports talk host Darin Pritchett, that describes the FSU defensive assignments differently. He may well be right. Doesn’t change my point much, but just wanted to mention it.