Well, that was disappointing. I say that not just as a Nebraska fan who watched her team get the snot kicked out of it—that was disappointing, though not hugely surprising. No, I say that as the writer of a weekly feature on hilarious screw-ups around the conference—amazingly, as bad as several teams were this weekend, they weren’t funny bad—just bad. As a result, it’s a pretty light tart week—though that gives us plenty of space to honor an outgoing feature and instant addition to the Fall’s Tarts Hall of Fame.
In Which A Hurdle is Miscalculated
From the look of the final score, this was probably the best defense Maryland put up all day against Penn State. Sure, it doesn’t appear to be extensively well thought-out, but sometimes the happiest accidents are like that. As for Zach Kuntz, the zealous #82, well, he was a 6’7” man who believed he could fly. He couldn’t, but you have to love that kind of self-belief.
In Which Pat Fitzgerald is Too Smart for the 2-Pt. Chart, Except Not Really
Northwestern surprised us all by following up several uninspiring performances with a closer-than-expected 9-point loss against Wolverine-slaying Wisconsin. About that nine points though... it didn’t have to happen that way. Northwestern could have finished the game with a one-score differential, keeping themselves in it until the very end, except that Pat Fitzgerald kept deciding to go for two... for no good reason.
As we learned last week, Pat Fitzgerald #HashtagDoesn’tCare what any of us think about these decisions, but they are nevertheless baffling. I’ll let my talented colleague Thumpasaurus, who knows a thing or fifteen about questionable playcalling, walk us through the affair:
Wisconsin has a 24-3 fourth quarter lead before...well...you know how sometimes late in the game northwestern’s opponents completely forget how to play football and often lose by doing so? So wisconsin starts doing that. Turnovers, penalties, three and outs, etc. Northwestern scores a TD. 24-9. An extra point makes it a 14-point game. Northwestern goes for two, doesn’t get particularly close. Still a two possession game, but where before you could tie it up with 2TD and 2XP now you need 2TD and a 2 pointer just to TIE.
Wisconsin still can’t remember how to play football so northwestern recovers an onside kick and then goes and scores again. Now it’s 24-15. Kick the extra point and it’s a one possession game. OR...you can go for two, and it’s a one-possession game, but you only need an extra point to tie it IF you score again. Never mind what happens if you fail. So...they go for two and fail. The tv crew sends a sideline reporter to see if Northwestern kicker Charlie Kuhbander has fallen down a well because they can’t come up with any other explanation. Their bewildered sideline reporter confirms that he’s fine.
BTN remains baffled as well, for what that’s worth:
It went for 2, down 24-9. And it went for 2 again, down 24-15.— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) September 30, 2019
What was @coachfitz51's thought process at Wisconsin?
"We're playing the eighth-ranked team on the road, and I'm going to win the game in regulation. So how do you get there?" pic.twitter.com/qg12PFWAID
“I don’t know what exactly he’s yelling about but I know BTN thinks Pat Fitzgerald’s pronouns are ‘it/its.’” —Thumpasaurus
A day of learning, indeed. And thus closes another chapter of the Strange Wizardry* of Pat Fitzgerald. (“It’s a wizard, Harry!)
*Remember, Neville Longbottom was a wizard too—not everyone can be Hermione.
In Which Peej and Brohm are Two Ships Passing in the Night
The Unsinkable Molly Browns (Minnesota, if you missed my nautical allusions) slopped their way to another win over the weekend, taking down Purdue (though nearly letting them back into it) and also most of their key players while they were at it. It was unquestionably a maddening disaster of a game for Purdue coach Jeff Brohm, who didn’t seem to have much willingness to risk having motivational slogans shouted in his face by the USS Peejus following the debacle:
In Which a Coach Ensures Unemployment, Competes for Zach Smith Twitter Idiocy Honors
Chris Ash was not the only football coach to have a rough week—after starting 0-3, Div. III St. Augustine’s football coach, Tim Chavous, was let go last Monday. He did not take kindly to the news. Exhibiting Smart!, Best, and Very Good Leadership Skills That Everyone Is Talking About!!!, Chavous tweeted the following screed:
JUST GOT FIRED FROM SAU UNIVERSITY TODAY AT 4:09PM BECAUSE MY A.D. GEORGE WILLIAMS ATHLETIC DIRECTOR DIDN’T WANT TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIM NOT DOING HIS A.D. DUTIES BUT THEY NEEDED AN ESCAPE GOAT BECAUSE HIS (sic),
Let’s just all take a minute and appreciate “escape goat.” Gifts such as this are not given every day.
Anyway, Chavous deleted the Tweet and his Twitter profile (Sad!) and presumably will not be coaching again any time soon. Unless the search in Piscataway goes horribly, unimaginably awry...
In Which Mike Leach is Mike Leach, and His Players are Fat and Dumb
Mike Leach is one of the most entertaining characters in college football, known for his exciting offenses on the field and his exciting offenses routinely coming from his mouth. The latter was in full force over the weekend after Washington State lost to Utah, and Leach told the media that his players were “fat, dumb, happy, and entitled.” Pouting was also mentioned:
Mike Leach calls his own players 'fat, dumb, happy and entitled' https://t.co/vOFvqRc6jI— L.A. Times Sports (@latimessports) September 29, 2019
This isn’t the first time the portly pirate aficianado has referenced pudginess related to his players and blamed it for a loss. Following a loss to Texas A&M, his Texas Tech Red Raiders were alleged by their coach to have been led down the primrose path by “their fat little girlfriends,” who distracted them with visions of an easy victory and who knows what else.
In Which Jim Delany Looks Really Dumb
We’ve spilled plenty of proverbial ink on discussion about whether or not the 2014 addition of Maryland and Rutgers to the Big Ten was justified in any way. On Saturday, the answer to that looked like a resounding no. Both teams were shut out by conference opponents, and the combined score was 111-0. Ouch.
If you add Nebraska in the mix, Delany’s other addition, the math is scarecely better. While the Huskers avoided the shutout, they only barely did so—leaving the combined fate of the three newest Big Ten teams 159-7.
In Which We Say Goodbye to a Dear Friend :(
And that brings us to our saddest moment of the week, a farewell to a man who has done as much for this column as anyone—that illustrious Iowa product, Chris Ash, lately of Piscataway.
During his tenure, Rutgers went from Very Bad to Even Worse, which was something none of us really thought was possible. The jump from coordinator to HC is often a crapshoot, as dozens of other schools have learned, and combined with the special challenges Rutgers faces, it was ultimately a jump that Ash could not make. There are many metrics by which the futility could be measured, but perhaps none speak so loudly as this:
Since Rutgers joined the Big Ten in 2014 there have been 19 Big Ten conference games in which a team was shutout. Rutgers has been the team shutout in 9 of them.— Tom Fornelli (@TomFornelli) September 28, 2019
Ignoring Fornelli’s sin of treating “shut out” as one word, it is, alas, less of a sin than getting shut out NINE TIMES.
In full fairness to Ash... one of those was the responsibility of Kyle Flood. But the rest were Ash’s, including four (!!!) in his first season alone. It was not a good trend.
And so we here at OTE* mourn this moment, the passing of a legend. Against Rutgers have our poison pens and endless wit been mercilessly unloaded, a situation maintained by a nice man who was in over his head. We may not see his equal again (indeed, those of us from non-Rutgers schools pray that we do not), and for that, we are truly sorry. We wish him the best in his future endeavors, and we wish for Rutgers to beat Liberty, but Ash’s departure certainly leaves a hole in our witty little hearts.
And for that, one final beautiful Tart of the Week to your friend and mine, Chris Ash. We light the cannon for you, friend.
*Zuzu and Ray not included
Which Tart led the pack this week?
This poll is closed
PSU Shoots for the Stars
Two Ships Pass in the Night
SAU Coach Auditions for a Cabinet Post
Mike Leach Mike Leaches
Jim Delany’s Mistakes are More than Usually Evident
Pat Fitzgerald Goes for Four
Chris Ash (Lifetime Achievement)