There's a feeling i've had about Coach Tedford's playcalling in critical situations over the last few years that I've struggled to put into words, a kind of anger and disappointment, that when i try to express on CGB (esp. after the criner-catch loss at arizona a few years back) the cgb mods (esp. avi) sort of bulldoze with their cool logic and levelheadedness. it is easy to be cast as a firebrand on this blog. but that third shanked field goal yesterday seemed to help this feeling in the pit of my stomach find its proper expression. some other cgb'ers seem to be expressing similar kinds of feelings and are still being met with the same kind of resistance.
to people who say that they were overall happy with tedford's coaching at ohio state--i sort of understand where you're coming from. the offense had an identity and a rhythm. i was happy with the early going for it on fourth. BUT, that field goal, in my opinion, nullifies it all for me. "but tedford put us in a position to win, so he deserves credit for that." fine, but you overestimate the importance of being in a position to win. the whole point of being in a position to win, is to win. the fact that tedford balks in these kinds of situations undermines all of the confidence he's built up in me through his great playcaling. imagine a firefighter who knows everything about fire science, is great at driving the fire truck, taking care of the equipment, but does not respond well to emergencies. well, that's a deal breaker, right? the point of taking care of the equipment and driving to the fire is to put the fire out. close games that call for ballsy decisions are an inherent part of coaching football. it's not some rare exception. it's going to happen over and over again. it's where coaches need to thrive, and in my opinion it's where tedford wilts. and it's why you absolutely CAN look at a football game on a micro level. a game happens in regular chronological time. the coaches can see the scoreboard, the time on the clock. it's not like judges break down the film later and score everything after the fact. you know exactly how much weight is resting on that fourth down. so, okay, the micro level is not the quintessentially best lens through which to view a game, but this makes tedford's mistake even less forgivable in my eyes. there are only so many plays in a game where you can say, "no, this is our win. we're going to get a first down, bleed the clock and if you do get it back, you'll need seven to tie us and you won't have much time to do it."
you can imagine a football game in terms of a tennis match. a tennis match with sets, games, points, advantages can be visually represented as an inverted pyramid. the further along a match goes the more weight rests on smaller and smaller increments of scoring. the reason that roger federer is arguably the best player ever is not because he never gave up sets, but that he played better when the micro substructure of the match obtruded itself. and andy roddick is a guy who underperformed and lost a lot to fed, including a wimbeldon final he, "put himself in postition to win" because he didn't.
tedford makes decisions that are conventional, and so easy to explain later on paper, but i think what riles me so much about these decisions and the dismissiveness of some people on cgb to my anger is that football doesn't happen in some vacuum of probabilities. the attitude with which you approach the task changes the probabilities. there are self-fulfilling prophecies at work. a team who doesn't gear itself towards converting 4th and shorts will be worse at it than teams that would have sprinted to the line already with a call for such a situation and executed it. football, like poker cannot be explained only in terms of probabilities. it takes a feel, a nuance--where you often have to make your own luck. you're often rewarded for aggression when the conventional wisdom calls for passivity. i think it's so hard for me to argue my point or express myself, because i think what i'm approaching is some coaching analogue to religion. i can't quantify or talk in probabilities, because what i think tedford lacks is precisely the ability to transcend the conventional. if that's the case, then these postmortems on cgb will always be filled with comments like, "dude, you gotta take the points" convention is offered as a counterargument to grievances against tedford when that's exactly what we're mad about to begin with. the justification for the way we lost is also the reason WHY we lost. and i think that's a dynamic people are tapping into ( a small minority), that these end of game decisions seem like their made to produce good justifications for losing instead of points to win the game. i don't think this is a conscious thing, like tedford actually wants to lose, but it's just something in his nature that fear of fucking up dominates when a game gets tense. tedford is hamlet when we need a macbeth. it ends poorly for both of those guys, true, but at least macbeth got to be king for a while.