The University of British Columbia should learn how to get a last-second field-goal attempt off before it joins the NCAA.
Sorry, it's impossible to resist taking a potshot. The UBC Thunderbirds contriving to lose 18-16 to the Regina Rams on Friday, not even managing to line up for a field goal -- let alone have a bad snap, botched hold or a wicked duckhook by the kicker -- after getting in range with ample time, 16 seconds, is irony, on a base level. On the previous day, there was a column in the Van Province about UBC wants to join the NCAA, and get away from the CIS, whose "appeal has been watered down" by letting in riff-raff schools. On the next night, the school's football team commits a blunder not even befitting of a peewee team.
UBC's athletic aspirations have little to do with the utterly bonkers clock management. For cryin' out loud, though, if you're going to talk a big game about leaving the CIS, make sure you actually do manage to line up for a field goal after you were in range with 16 seconds left.
As best as can be figured out from reading cisfootball.org postings and the boxscore, the Thunderbirds, down by two, had first-and-10 at the Regina 21-yard line with about 16 seconds left. Their quarterback, Marc McVeigh, had moved them 67 yards in a little less than a minute. Their kicker Shawn McIsaac, who was only 10-of-10 dating back to the start of their previous game.
There was enough time for one more scrimmage play, if the offence had got up to the line and snapped the ball quickly. There was some suggestion among the dot-orgers that as play was whistled in and the clock began to wind, UBC for whatever reason didn't get over the ball with any great alacrity. No one made any motion to call a timeout and settle things.
The clock was apparently down to :03 when the ball was snapped. McVeigh, instead of taking of a knee or spiking the ball -- either play stops the clock -- handed the ball off to the tailback, Dave Boyd.
By the time Boyd was brought down, there were zeroes on the clock, and a probably more than a few Thunderbirds' jaws scrapping the ground. Instead of a 19-18 win, they'd lost. (One feels guilty for merely mentioning the players who touched the ball on the fateful play. It has to be pointed out that UBC's starting running back, Cheng Wei, who'd had a couple fumbles, was out of the game, although that can't totally account for such a unfortunate event.)
It is odd how it went down. The Province column took a couple potshots at the CIS. It talked about how there is "extreme pressure to win in (NCAA Division 1), something foreign to the Canadian University Culture at this point."
However you capitalize it, UBC coach Ted Goveia and his staff should be glad that they don't face that kind of pressure. A coaching staff in the Southeastern Conference or Big Ten who left a win on the field like that on a Saturday would be polishing resumes by Monday. An assistant coach would probably be jettisoned just to appease the public. They would hear about it for weeks, from boosters, bloggers, babysitters, columnist, talk-radio reactionariess, fans on Rivals.com, the media, the milkman, their pastor and the paper boy. There would be YouTube takedowns, like the one directed at former Arkansas coach Houston Nutt.
(A lot of fans are taking issue with Goveia's quote, "Obviously the guy under centre managing the clock should have realized to run the play and get out of there but he is young." It's a team game, last anyone checked.)
In this case, the UBC coaches and players' ignominy is pretty much confined to CIS diehards, the sports fan equivalent of the weirdos down at the bait store. It will probably die out within a week, since really, it's not that big a deal compared to what's really important in the world. The football might not even make it on to YouTube, unless some angry UBC player bogarts the game film and gives it to one of his roommates to upload.
It's a bit of a Canadian conundrum, but UBC gets off lucky because what many, including a few UBC folk, see as Canada's backwards approach to university athletics is another person's sense of perspective. It's Canadian football. The coaches and players bust their butts as much as the school's or a CFL team's budget allows them to, but a fan has to approach it with a little bit of ironic detachment.
The weird part is, a team losing a game in the lamest way possible is kind of endearing. Aside from the whole turning-its-back-on-Canada thing, who's not going to root for UBC, now 2-2 instead of being 3-1 in an eight-game season, to rise above this and make the Canada West playoffs? Any team who's worth a damn finds a way to overcome, right?
(Cross-posted to The CIS Blog. That's all for now. Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.)