Sunday, November 1, 2015

Still a treat

So on a Halloween weekend when  the U  brought The Play back from the dead, Daniel Murphy was spooked by the hobglobins of Citi Field and Ohio State was visited by the ghosts of Urban Meyer's past (even though it didn't play), the greatest trick of all happened up in Minnesota late last night.

What happened was, the Golden Gophers failed to win the Little Brown Jug in back-to-back years, something it hasn't done since 1963. And yet still won, somehow.

The Gophers were down 29-26 with the clock nearly out of seconds when, on an already emotional night, interim coach Tracy Claeys made an emotional decision. With the ball resting an inch or so from the goal line and a kicker on the sideline who'd already notched four field goals, Claeys violated football protocol by going for the win at home instead of the tie.

Of course, Michigan stuffed the Gophers as the clock ran out, and escaped into the night with the win.

But you know what?

Not really.

Not really, because if the Gophers lost, the way in which they lost revealed them to be as much as winners as the Wolverines. That was a guts call, going for the win, the kind of call you hardly ever see anymore in high-stakes football. The smart play might have been to kick the field goal and get the thing into overtime, but the football play -- the purest expression of what the game most celebrates -- was the play Claeys sent in.

It was the highlight of an appropriately weird weekend in which the Mets playoff hero, Murphy, booted the ball that opened the door for the Royals to win Game 4 and open a 3-1 lead in the World Series; in which Miami did this;  in which Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett was arrested for drunk driving, the latest in a long list of players who've been arrested on the watch of Urban Meyer, who unaccountably continues to be regarded as a disciplinarian.

Forget all that. Remember the Call instead.

That it came against the backdrop of beloved coach Jerry Kill's resignation this week because of his continued issues with epilepsy made it all the more perfect. Curious logic, perhaps, but this was never going to be a night when logic carried the field.  It was Halloween, and it was Michigan, and it was Jerry Kill Night, highlighted by Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner grabbing a flag with "Jerrysota" written on it and waving it for the home crowd before kickoff.

And then highlighted again when the Gophers went for the W instead of playing the percentages.

Failure was never more noble. Nor more of a success.

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