There are moments in the continuum of every diehard’s fandom which are memorable.
Most come from what we observe on the field or diamond or hardwood.
They remain indelible, years, decades later, be they instances of joy or sorrow. They become fodder for discussions of reconsideration over pizza and a brewski.
Shoni Schimmel’s termination of Britney Griner with extreme prejudice.
U.S. Reed’s halfcourt dagger in Austin.
Doug Buffone going Bobby Orr, laying out three foes on a crackback after a Cardinal pick.
Jerry Eaves undercutting Kiki VanDeWeghe.
Lamar Jackson leapfrogging a Syracuse Orangeman.
(Stay with me, I’m going to get to Saturday’s L in Raleigh. Simply providing context.)
Less likely to be remembered, though it happens, are coaching decisions in regular season games.
Some Cardinal fans recall the victory over UCLA Denny Crum coached from home, by sending instructions to trainer Jerry May over the phone. But our recall is sketchy.
Less likely to be recollected: The brilliance of his simple choice before that conference title playoff game his first season in Nashville? With the gym evenly divided, and rockin’ for at least an hour before tip, Crum had his Cards out mingling with the fans, soaking it in, getting comfortable and acclimated. Memphis State’s Gene Bartow cloistered his Tigers in the dressing room, where they have advised they got very nervous, feeling all that energy through the walls of the locker room.
How many need a reminder for this one? John L. Smith’s simple but deft maneuver before the rain delayed OT win in the 2000 opener with Kentucky.
When the teams came out of the locker room after the period of shutdown, the Cards went through a mini version of pregame calisthenics and stretching. While Hal Mumme’s squad was just standing around, doing nothing organized.
* * * * *
Acolytes remember moments of game action, because we see them with our eyes.
Of coaching decisions, we only observe the results.
Perhaps, if there’s astute reportage, we get an explanation after the fact.
Many times, not.
Like yesterday. Nobody inquired about an odd decision, it seems to me anyway, late in the 28-13 loss to the Wolfpack.
I’m not implying the game might have come out differently. But can’t stop thinking about the decision to go for it, one score down, at the Cards’ own 33 on 4th & 2. With five minutes still to go.
Yes, State had scored on its two previous possessions. But U of L’s defense, strong for most all of the day, had forced 3 & Out five of the previous six times the victor’s had the ball.
It’s not hard to fathom the Louisville coaches thought the D was too gassed. Kei’Trel Clark was being carted to the locker room.
It wasn’t not an illegitimate choice. Go for the W and all that.
But, except for one play, U of L’s offense sputtered all day, like my first car, an oft out of tune ‘58 Chevy V8.
Still, don’t make it, and State would have a short field.
Seemed like waving the white flag.
Cards didn’t make it. State did have a short field. And Scored.
Truth is, more than likely, that play, that decision, wasn’t the game changer.
There were lots of reasons why the Cards fell.
Penalties. The ones committed. The ones U of L didn’t take advantage of. Losing 8 points, when settling for FGs twice, when in TD territory.
Yet, fair or not, I can’t get that call out of mind.
— c d kaplan