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Bad Beats: BCS Style Points Can Kill
by Ben Burns - 08/17/2009
The BCS has made running up the score a smart move instead of an unsportsmanlike one.
The embattled system forces coaches to emphasize their dominance, because, like it or not, style points matter.
Those style points also can lead to a bad beat.
In 2000, third-ranked Florida, a 21 1/2-point favorite, led Kentucky 52-31 with less than 10 seconds to play. Instead of kneeling down on the game’s last play, Steve Spurrier went deep. Freshman quarterback Rex Grossman connected with Jabar Gaffney for a 43-yard touchdown. The Gators covered 59-31.
After the game, Spurrier explained himself.
“I called that last play,” he told reporters. “We had the ball like eight plays in the fourth quarter and they were blitzing ever down, so we decided to try to score a touchdown in the fourth quarter with our backup quarterback. Kentucky was trying to run up their stats, so we tried to run up ours, because ours were lacking.”
These days, coaches realize the added value of tacking on a late score. Some realize it more than others.
It’s important for bettors to know which coaches have proven they won’t hesitate to keep scoring.
Here are three.
Florida’s Urban Meyer: Brash and somewhat arrogant, the Head Gator is the best in the game. And he knows it.
Last season, Meyer elected to kick a field goal in the final seconds in a 26-3 win over Miami. The Gators were 22 1/2-point favorite.
It pissed off anyone who had the ‘Canes. Miami was in that game and trailed only 9-6 heading into the fourth quarter. It also pissed off Randy Shannon.
"Sometimes when you do things and people see what kind of person you really are, you turn a lot of people off," the Miami coach said the day after the game. "Take from that what you want. [The late field goal| helped us more than you will ever know."
Anyone think the Gators are scared?
Make sure to take a close look at Tennessee’s visit to the Swamp on Sept. 19. Loudmouth Lane Kiffin wrongly accused Meyer of a recruiting violation and made several other instigating and well-publicized remarks toward the Gators and the rest of the SEC.
The hype leading up to the game might prevent any true line value.
But you can bet Meyer will be aware of what the spread is and will do everything in his power to make sure and cover it.
South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier: His Gamecocks aren’t good enough to run up the score on many teams. But the Head Ball Coach will gladly take any opportunities to help jumpstart what has generally been a very sluggish offense, especially by Spurrier’s standards.
South Carolina opens with difficult road games at North Carolina State and at Georgia. A home game against Florida Atlantic follows. If the ‘Cocks are 0-2 heading into the game with the Owls, don’t be surprised to see Spurrier keep his starters in throughout, even if the game gets out of hand.
Remember, Spurrier also was quoted at Florida as saying that he tries to cover the point spread for the boosters.
Texas Tech’s Mike Leach: In 2004, the Red Raiders led SMU by two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter. Instead of simply running out the clock, Leach called six pass plays and drove to the SMU three-yard line.
It infuriated then-SMU coach Phil Bennett, who bolted across the field, yelling at Leach after the game. A melee ensued, with punches and helmets being thrown.
"I told Mike I didn't appreciate how the game ended," Bennett said. "Neither team deserved to have that happen."
Red Raider quarterback Sonny Cumbie said, “We’re not a team that kneels on the ball or suns the ball up the middle. It’s a different philosophy. If you don’t like it, stop it.”
Leach added, “I've spent a lot of time coaching our players to play hard, finish, score. I don't change gears on that. I'm not going to stop the projector."
Remember another time where a coach tacking on an unnecessary score hurt or helped your wager? Let us hear it.