Will have more to opine on this later –oh, we bet you will–but a few thoughts:
1. Wrong of me to chastise anyone for whining about such a controversial and cataclysmic ref”s flag so soon after the incident. That is on me.
2. If you could possibly look at this play again for the first time –which, of course, is impossible–you’d see two Irish receivers appearing to create massive obstruction to Florida State’s defensive backs. If you go back and look at it a second or 85th time, if you go full-bore Zapruder film on the play, then yeah, you see one DB literally holding C.J. Prosise at the line and you also notice that the Seminole secondary was utterly dazed and confused and would have never prevented the TD, anyway. But on first viewing…which again, you can no longer ever do, I’m not sure if you see all that.
And, yes, you can point out the missing helmet on the FSU player right after or the fact that the ref who flagged the OPI is the same human who ejected Stephon Tuitt last season –you’re not incorrect– but all of it adds up to, “So what?” The Irish had first and goal from the 9 with about :40 to play and were unable to take care of business. Shades of the 2009 USC loss. Score earlier and all of the controversy vanishes. On the road, versus the defending national champion, leave no doubt.
This much I feel confident about: Had Florida State scored the game-winner on that exact same play, with no flag, the message boards at NDNation.com would be lighting up with complaints about the non-call.
3. This was possibly the best game Notre Dame has played since the 1993 tilt with these same Seminoles. Why? Because unlike the Bush Push Classic of 2005, Notre Dame took on a Top 3 team and manhandled it on the line of scrimmage while also matching it athlete for athlete. It took the very best effort of the reigning Heisman Trophy winner to take down the Irish on Saturday night.
4. Heading into that fateful play, the Irish had already preserved their unbeaten season with not one but two unlikely 4th-and-long conversions: 4th-and-11 versus Stanford and 4th-and-18 moments earlier. You can only put yourselves in those positions so many times. As Brian Kelly said, “You have to knock out the champion.” Correct. You have to leave no doubt.
5. Everything the Irish still hope to achieve, short of an undefeated season, remains within their grasp. Win out and it’ll be difficult to make a case against them being the most deserving one-loss team remaining. Only Georgia or Alabama, in my opinion, would have as solid an argument.
6. SEC Knockout Games that will help the Irish: Auburn-Georgia, Mississippi State-Alabama, Mississippi State-Ole Miss, Auburn-Alabama. You know at least one SEC team is in the playoff. Any one-loss SEC team will also have a valid argument. If you are a fan of Notre Dame or Oregon or the Ohio State-Michigan State winner, you want Mississippi State to win out.
7. Notre Dame is great television. Opposing fans may hate to admit it, but like the Seventies Dallas Cowboys, the Irish don’t know how to play drama-free games any more. The Selection Committee may not consciously consider that, but there’s no one involved with the Playoff who loves money who won’t want Notre Dame if the Irish finish 11-1.
8. So, I was kinda wrong about Texas A&M. The Medium Happy 8, as it stands: Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Florida State, Alabama, Notre Dame, Oregon, Auburn, TCU.
9. October 18 now stands for: The Galloping Ghost’s five-touchdown day versus Michigan (1924), “Outlined against a blue-gray October sky (1924), Keith Jackson’s birthday (1928), and The Pick (2014).
10. Corey Robinson became a star on Saturday night. If you are a Notre Dame fan, you’re proud to have your school represented by players such as Robinson, Joe Schmidt (did you know that he is a former walk-on?), Jaylon Smith, Max Redfield, Everett Golson, Sheldon Day, Cam McDaniel (another helmet-losing play in a prime-time nationally televised game…Nice!), etc.
The Irish lost the game Saturday night in Tallahassee, but there’s no telling how many future recruiting battles they won.
11. Brian Kelly said everything right both on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. If you are a Notre Dame fan or alum, you want him to be crabby and a little bit defiant. Reggie Bush won Twitter on Saturday night by tweeting, “Wow, not sure about that call” and “Hate to see a game decided by that.” Yes, Irish fans, a ref buried his flag when he should’ve tossed one nine years and three days earlier, which cost you a victory against a defending national champ with a long win streak and now you were burned in exactly the opposite way (shades of the 1989 versus 1993 rationale for the Irish not finishing No. 1). Yes, you’re right. But that won’t change anything. Gotsta move on.
12. I love that Jimbo Fisher gave Jameis the “humble pie” talk and that not 30 minutes later Jameis said that he was thinking, when the Irish apparently scored the go-ahead TD with :17 left, that “they left too much time on the clock.” Never change, Jameis. At least not on the football field. This is who you are in shoulder pads and a helmet, and look how far it has gotten you.
Okay, this is all I have right now. I am in Quebec and will have more later if possible. Merci beaucoup to Jacob Anstey for rolling up his sleeves this weekend and making the site look like someone actually cares about its aesthetic appeal. Great job, JA.