Cognition & Reality

Friday, 10 September 2010

Coaching Cowardice

Filed under: Uncategorized — drtone @ 8:10 pm

Part of the beauty of sport is that bad coaching decisions, really bad ones, bring swift retribution. I just watched Marshall University, which has never beaten in-state rival West Virginia, lose to them again through the sheer stupidity and cowardice of new Marshall head coach, Doc Holliday. If ever a coach deserved to lose a game, it was this game. Despite missing an opportunity to put the game away a few minutes earlier, when they fumbled the ball away near the WVU goal, Marshall was in a position to win the game 21-13 with about 3:30 to go. They had the ball 4th-and-1 on about the WVU 40. A first down all but wins the game, allowing Marshall to run time off the clock, while taking them a step closer to a game-clinching score. Holliday, who must have ball the size of grape seeds if he has any at all, chose to punt.

I knew, despite the immediate success of the punt, which was downed at the WVU 2 yard line, that WVU would score, make the two-point conversion to tie, and subsequently win the game in overtime. That is exactly what happened. West Virginia, led by their excellent quarterback, Geno Smith and their fine running  back, Noel Devine, marched down the field to score. They made it look easy, as they did the subsequent two-pointer. In overtime, West Virginia only managed a field goal on their first possession, theoretically giving Marshall an opportunity to redeem itself. Unable to move the ball, however, Marshall had to try what was for their kicker a long field goal of 40 yards. He missed, and Marshall’s opportunity to change the history of its football program died on the spot.

The infuriating aspect of this debacle is that Doc Holliday, far from demonstrating a gunfighter’s courage, chose the “safe” route in punting. Why did he did he do that? Because he had the headlines of the local paper floating in front of his eyes: “Marshall Goes For It. Loses.” The fact is that, had Marshall failed to get the one yard for the first with the ball on the opponent’s 40, WVU would still have had to go 60 yards for a TD and then convert for two. Now Holliday will see some headlines: “Holliday Chickens Out, Victory Slips Away.”


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