How-to: Out-Stoops a Stoops

The Stoopseses have a tumultuous history at Autzen, and a very suspect call by little brother Mike to go for it on 4th-and-3 with just under five minutes to play from his team's own 45 in Saturday's shootout between Oregon and Arizona only adds fodder to the farce known as Mike Stoops's tenure in Tucson.

As you may recall, older brother Bob and his Oklahoma Sooners are 0-1 in their only visit to Eugene, losing controversially to the Ducks on what some have argued was a blown call in the final minute and a half of the 2006 contest.  (I, like many Oregon fans, think it's pretty hard to blame a loss on a blown call that occurred while the Sooners were clinging to a 6-point lead.  I'd probably blame the touchdown and the blocked field goal.  But that's just me.  And probably every other rational football fan.)

But, all things considered, Bob probably has a legitimate gripe.  Mike, on the other hand?  Not so much.

With just under five minutes left in the game, Arizona faced a 4th-and-3 at their own 45.

Now, you play head coach for a moment (and, quite frankly, most of you could probably do a better job than Stoops has done in his four seasons at Arizona): Your team has scored 28 straight points; your opponents have punted four times and fumbled a kickoff to end their last five possessions; and, although down by three, you've successfully taken the notoriously raucous home crowd out of the game.  Would you, under any circumstances, go for it in this situation?  Would you put undue pressure on your offense, even if you were a defensive-minded coach whose D had successfully brought its opponent's offensive attack to a screeching halt?  Ignore the obvious fact that home crowds tend to suddenly become interested again when the visiting team decides to go for it on 4th down.  How about if it meant throwing a swing pass to an 18-YEAR-OLD TRUE FRESHMAN RUNNING BACK?!

Yeah, didn't think so.

But, apparently, the brilliant and resilient Mike Stoops did!  And the result was, well, not surprising.  A well-thrown Willie Tuitama pass to a wide-open Keola Antolin (who, having grown up in Vegas, probably wouldn't have bet on HIMSELF to make that play) hits the youngster in the hands and rolls out of bounds, all but eliminating Arizona's chance for a wild, come-from-behind win in one of college football's toughest environments, not to mention dashing its hopes for the school's first-ever Rose Bowl bid.

And the rest is now history: The Ducks took over on downs, quickly added another score with LeGarrette Blount's 40-yard TD dash, and held on to win, 55-45.

Nice work, Mike.  The other Mike probably appreciates it.  Now, back on the hot seat you go!

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