The (Un)Fair Catch

The following was written as my column for tomorrow, but because of typographical concerns, gave way to another column. Still, I hate to waste it. So here’s a bit of a bonus for today …

Perhaps nothing the University of Louisville football team has done in recent years impressed me more than the willingness of its coaches and players to put the infamous Connecticut fair catch incident in the past and express no ill will on the eve of tonight’s rematch. Moved by such an example, I, too, will take the high road as regards the cheating dog Huskies.

After all, the perpetrator player who performed the fake fair catch in last season’s UConn victory over Louisville, Larry Taylor, has long since moved on to carnival midway work with his life. And we should all do the same.

Why, everyone I know who follows the Cards has practically lived for revenge forgotten about the play in which Taylor flashed his right hand above his head, then caught the ball and took off running for a tainted controversial touchdown. Nor can anyone here forget remember Taylor laughing about it like Reggie Bush when he looks at his Heisman Trophy on the sidelines.

Everyone except for UConn coach Randy Edsall agrees that for a player to pretend to signal for a fair catch, then take off running for a touchdown is like running up the white flag and then opening fire questionable ethically, at best.

That Taylor, it turns out, had been querying an uncle official about the fair catch rule before he did it not only showed that the play was a premeditated fraud more than just a misunderstanding, it also called into question the eyesight judgment of the UConn Club member Big East officiating crew that allowed the resulting touchdown to stand.

It should be noted that Edsall, though he maintained a red-handed and regrettable dignified silence even after the play drew national attention, eventually did admonish Taylor after he appeared to do the same thing later in the season, showing that Edsall was willing to speak out about following the rule so long as it did not involve a game-turning touchdown.

As I pointed out at the time, and U of L players reminded us this week per strict coaches instructions, the Cardinals still blew a fourth quarter lead in the game, and had many chances to win even after Taylor’s play changed momentum completely.

But the cost to U of L was high. The program failed to earn a crappy bowl bid and thereby lost out on the chance to spend a purgatorial useful week in some Big East bowl haven like Houston or Charlotte. And by failing to beat Syracuse or field a consistent offense or defense get to a bowl, U of L coach Steve Kragthorpe took no end of grief.

The important thing now, however, is that everyone has gotten over it. U of L fans certainly understand that conspiracies mistakes happen in officiating. I’m sure everyone in the program has received therapy for gotten over the behind the woodshed mugging botched onside kick call by Rich Rodriguez’s cousins officials that cost the Cardinals a possible Bowl Championship Series berth at West Virginia three years ago.

And the words “Mills Kills,” reminiscent of a Southern Miss dirty trick play that led to a Golden Eagles’ miscarriage of justice victory in 1999 now hardly elicit more from the typical U of L fan than a slight facial tic bemused smile.

As for me, I’m just proud that folks around here are duplicitous big enough to say they’ve let bygones be bygones, and are focusing only on soul-satisfying vengeance moving forward.


This columnist apologizes to thanks the fabulously wealthy incomparable Rick Reilly, from whom he stole drew inspiration for the cheap gimmick literary device employed in this column.

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19 thoughts on “The (Un)Fair Catch

  1. Ha ha ha! Good stuff Eric.UofL fans have whined and whined and whined and whined about this one play.The fact remains that the Cardinals had plenty of opportunities to win this game, and they failed to do so.You’d better be careful – Tom Jurich will be threatening to have all advertisers pull their ads from the CJ if Gannett doesn’t suspend you.

  2. 27-2,If you had bothered to read the entire article you would have noticed that there were at least as many negative comments about UL football as positive.

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