Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hail Mary Hoaxes, Super Bowl III and More Michigan Meltdowns

The Miami Hurricanes threw that Hail Mary game against Boston College in 1984 to enhance the Doug Flutie legend and ensure that college football would have a nice-looking, clean-cut, All-American boy as the Heisman Trophy winner that year.

Doug Flutie
I'm not saying Flutie wasn't a great quarterback. In fact, he's one of my all-time favorite players because he had so much heart and football savvy. It was especially inspiring to see him out there playing against all those big guys and outsmarting everybody because he was only 5 feet 10. The classic underdog.

But on that final play, I'll always believe the Miami secondary deliberately let Gerard Phelan get behind them to catch the game-winning pass. That's not how you defend the Hail Mary. You stay behind the receiver at all costs and knock the ball down if necessary. Those players knew that, and still they let Phelan get behind them for the easy game-winning catch. Watch the replay here:

There was another obvious Hail Mary Hoax in the Cincinnati-Baltimore game on Nov. 10, 2013. Ravens safety James Ihedigbo, a veteran player in his sixth NFL season, tipped a deflected pass high in the air so it could be caught by the Bengals' A.J. Green for the tying touchdown.

All Ihedigbo had to do to ensure a Ravens victory was to let the ball fall harmlessly to the ground or bat it down. By deliberately tipping it back into the air, he allowed Green to score. You'd have to be pretty naive to believe that play was on the level. Read all about it and watch the replay here:

And don't forget the Hail Mary on the last play of the game that allowed Colorado to defeat Michigan 27-26 in 1994. Watch as the Michigan secondary leaves Michael Westbrook wide open to catch the deflected pass. Instead of everybody going for the ball, someone should have been on Westbrook to knock the ball down if it bounced his way. See the slow-motion replay here:

Also, why is it that defensive teams always rush the passer with only three linemen when it's obvious a Hail Mary is about to be attempted? If I were a defensive coordinator, I'd blitz the quarterback so the receivers wouldn't have time to reach the end zone, let alone make a "miraculous" game-winning catch. That wouldn't make for a very exciting finish though, would it?

For example, check out this Hail Mary Hoax that allowed Auburn to escape with a win over Georgia on Nov. 16, 2013. Auburn trailed 38-37, and it was fourth down and 18 from their own 27-yard line with 36 seconds left in the game. Georgia rushes only three defenders, and watch the one in the middle. He just stands there! That means there were only two defenders rushing the passer! Watch the replay here:

Isn't it obvious that Georgia wanted to give Auburn a chance to complete the Hail Mary? All the Georgia secondary had to do was let the pass fall harmlessly to the ground and they would have won the game. Instead, they deliberately tipped it to the Auburn receiver and let him waltz into the end zone for the winning score.

LOL! Are sports fans really that naive? A second-grader could see it was all a hoax!

Speaking of hoaxes, there were two glaring examples of fixed games in the early years of the Super Bowl to give the old AFL teams more credibility after they merged with the NFL. The Baltimore Colts threw the Super Bowl to Joe Namath and the New York Jets in 1969, and the Minnesota Vikings threw the 1970 Super Bowl to the Kansas City Chiefs.

No wonder Namath boldly predicted the Jets would win in 1969, even though they were 18-point underdogs. He probably knew the fix was in.

It's even worse today.

Another thing that happens is that key players fake injuries to hurt their team's chances and give the team an excuse for losing the game. And coaches cooperate by failing to make obvious strategy adjustments and taking a laissez-faire attitude when their team starts to go into meltdown mode.

For example, in their "loss" to Ohio State in 2012, Michigan kept trying to run the ball up the middle in the second half with little success, despite having great success in the first half by throwing the ball and running wide. After scoring 21 points in the first half, they were shut out in the second half because of play-calling that appeared to be stupid, but was actually deliberate. It was designed to fail.

Michigan was forced to throw all its losses in 2013, including the 17-13 "loss" to Nebraska. Devin Gardner, easily one of the quickest, fastest and most agile quarterbacks in the country, inexplicably forgot how to elude the pass rush in this game. When he's not actually trying to get sacked, he's adept at dodging tacklers. Just ask Notre Dame and some of the other teams he's exploited during his career at Michigan.
Devin Gardner runs for a big gain against Notre Dame.
But Gardner also has been instrumental in throwing some games and keeping the score close in others. His ridiculous "mistake" against Notre Dame in 2013 kept that game close when he threw a pass high up in the air toward a gang of Notre Dame players as he was being tackled in the end zone. He could easily have thrown the ball into the turf or even taken a safety. Instead, Notre Dame intercepted for an easy touchdown. Watch the replay here at the 1:30 mark:

And then there was the badly overthrown, deliberate interception that sealed the Ohio State loss in 2012: Not to mention the interception he deliberately threw to the Ohio State secondary on the 2-point conversion play that would have won the game in 2013 if it had been successful.

And the deliberate fumble that led to a touchdown against Connecticut, shown here at the 0:50 mark:

Against Nebraska and Michigan State. it didn't help that the offensive line suddenly forgot how to protect the quarterback.

Are we really supposed to believe Nebraska's defense and Michigan State's defense are both just too strong and fast for a Michigan offense that scored 63 points on Indiana, 59 on Central Michigan and 40 or more points against Notre Dame, Penn State and Minnesota? That all they could muster against their archrival, Michigan State, was two lousy field goals in the biggest game of the season? That they could be shut out for the entire second half? I'm not buying the cover story for one instant, and you shouldn't either.

And how about Notre Dame being ordered to stand down at home against perennial patsy Navy last season, struggling to win 38-34, one week after blowing out Air Force 45-10 at Colorado Springs? And then losing to Pittsburgh, 28-21 -- a team that gave up 55 points against Duke earlier this season.

Michigan also shaved points against Akron on Sept. 14, 2013, when they struggled to win at home, 28-24, despite being a 37-point favorite. Reminds me of that time they "lost" to Appalachian State a few years back. Another obvious hoax. Do you really think Appalachian State and Akron would have had a chance in those games if Michigan hadn't been required to throw the game or keep it close?

Some of the other obvious hoaxes last season include losses by three teams that were in danger of qualifying for the BCS Championship Game. Clemson got blown out at home by Florida State, Stanford lost to Utah, 27-21, and then Oregon lost to Stanford, 26-20. The NCAA doesn't like having too many undefeated teams because it creates controversy over the corrupt BCS system.

I'm going to go out on a limb today (Nov. 17, 2013) and predict that either Alabama, Florida State or Ohio State will lose before the BCS Championship Game matchup is finalized. The reason why I say that is, unless one of them loses, we'll have three undefeated teams, and one will be left out of the championship game, creating more controversy for the already beleaguered and corrupt system.

Make that five teams that are undefeated, including Baylor and Northern Illinois. Baylor will probably lose, too, because I doubt that the NCAA wants to see Baylor in the championship game. We'll see. Northern Illinois might be allowed to go undefeated, since they're in the Mid-American Conference and won't create too much controversy when they get shut out of the BCS title game.

(Editor's note: Sure enough, the prediction I made on Nov. 17 came true, because Baylor got trounced by Oklahoma State in a highly suspicious game on Nov. 23, and Alabama lost to Auburn in another crooked game on Nov. 30 when they allowed a 100-yard touchdown on the last play of the game.

That left Florida State and Ohio State as the only two undefeated teams left from the so-called power conferences going into Dec. 7, but then the Buckeyes lost to Michigan State, so that left FSU as the only undefeated team. Northern Illinois got hammered by Bowling Green in another fixed game to knock them from the ranks of the undefeated.

Ohio State's loss opened the door for Auburn to qualify for the BCS Championship Game, thanks to the Tigers' fraudulent last-second victories over Georgia and Alabama. I have no idea why, but it's obvious that the powers that control college football wanted Auburn in the title game this season.)

I remember when big plays hardly ever happened. Titanic defensive struggles were the order of the day. Now, almost every game features a touchdown of 50 yards or more as defensive players suddenly find they're unable to make an open-field tackle.

I guess the NFL and the NCAA think the games are more exciting with all these big plays happening. But I don't. There was time when a 75-yard touchdown run meant something. Now it's just another example of corruption.

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