The 2-point attempt that continues to fail

Stanford is preparing to lock horns with bitter rival Cal tomorrow.  USC has a bye week, allowing additional time to prepare for their crosstown rival UCLA. Six days have passed since the Trojans and Cardinal met on the field, but that game still generates the majority of this week’s chatter.  Upcoming rivalry has taken a back seat, as a failed 2-point conversion continues to dominate discussions, with reporters eager to make a story bigger than it actually is.

Was there anything wrong with Jim Harbaugh choosing to go for two with his team leading late in a blowout victory? Sure there was, but not for the reason’s I’ve been reading or hearing.  The attention has been weighed on the bitterness and rivalry between two coaches, which in turn made sportsmanship a casualty of their personal war.

Sportsmanship?— What’s that? This is an era where victory is often accompanied by the term “style points”.  Sportsmanship is on life support, only displaying a pulse in games featuring service academies.  Expectations of respect and the upholding of past morals and codes is the same faux pas that fueled pregame handshakes.  Are we still doing that?

Harbaugh’s 2-point attempt failed on two counts, and neither has anything to do with sportsmanship.  First, it took the focus away from the great performance by his team, which won the game in record breaking fashion.  Andrew Luck played like a veteran.  Toby Gerhart ran like the best back in the country, and the defense showed their ability to stifle an opponent in the second half.  Instead, what we’ve had all week is failure to cross the goal line on a 2-point conversion that had absolutely no impact on the outcome.

If  the purpose was to knock your opponent into an unconscious state that would leave them submissive for years to come.  That also failed. USC may now respect Stanford, but they won’t forget the Cardinal.  Pete Carroll has already mentioned that he won’t forget it, and it’s going to make things interesting when the Trojans visit Palo Alto next year.  Who needs records or any chase for a conference championship for motivation?  The 2-point attempt is motivation drawn early, and they’ll be toting anger among the other items in their travel bags.

Should we be surprised by Harbaugh’s decision? No, not at all.  Jim Harbaugh played for Michigan, and was very much a part of their historic rivalry with Ohio State.  One of the most memorable moments of that rivalry was in 1968, five years after Harbaugh was born, but forever etched in Ann Arbor memories.  In that 1968 rivalry game, Ohio State, with the game well in hand, went for two points on the conversion.  When Woody Hayes was asked later why he made that choice, he responded with, “because the rule books won’t let you go for three”.

~ by Anthony on November 20, 2009.

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