A week ago, Pat Forde’s ESPN.com column had this interesting little tidbit in a piece about what kind of chatter goes on on the coaches communication system:
The coach: new Michigan boss Rich Rodriguez.
The headset moment: West Virginia against Georgia in the 2006 Sugar Bowl.
What happened: Rodriguez called an incredibly gutsy fake punt on fourth-and-6 near midfield in the fourth quarter while clinging to a three-point lead. He called it from field level and asked for confirmation that the Bulldogs’ formation was susceptible to the fake.
“I said on the headphones, ‘Do we got it? Hello? Hello? Anybody there?'” Rodriguez recalled.
Nobody in the press box wanted to stick his neck out and sign off on such a risky play. But the Mountaineers ran it anyway and it worked. They never gave the ball back to Georgia and won 38-35.
The problem is, apparently a couple of the folks who were there read it, and told Forde what really happened:
Last week, The Dash told a few memorable headset conversations related by coaches. One of them turned out to be apocryphal.
Rich Rodriguez’s reminiscence about hearing nothing from his assistants on the headsets when he called the memorably bold fake punt for West Virginia in the 2006 Sugar Bowl was a joke. The reality of the situation was relayed to The Dash last week by Tulsa assistant coach Herb Hand (31), who was an assistant with the Mountaineers then.
According to Hand, who was in the booth during that game, he reminded Rodriguez to look for the fake punt call. Bill Stewart (now the coach at WVU) chimed in that it had been open earlier in the game.
So when West Virginia faced its fateful fourth-and-6 near midfield against Georgia, clinging to a three-point lead, the West Virginia cognoscenti convened via headset. Butch Jones, now the coach at Central Michigan, told Rodriguez the play would work. Hand concurred, then asked offensive coordinator Calvin Magee to sign off on it as well. Rodriguez made the final call.
The result was a fake by committee that resulted in a first down that secured the victory.
Man, I really can’t believe such a selfless soul like DickRod would take all the credit for a play like that. Seems to really go against his grain.