Washington knocks off Texas on a bizarre Monday night; Wolves vs. Huskies for title in Houston

ESPN Broadcast Teams Silent When Needed Most Monday Night

I have found the broadcast team of Sean McDonough and Greg McElroy to be one of the best through the years, but Monday night with the game on the line for Washington and Texas, they did not distinguish themselves.

Just before Washington kicked a field goal for a 9-point lead late in the game, quarterback Michael Penix threw the ball out of bounds. Had he dropped to the ground in-bounds, it would have kept the clock running and forced Texas to use a valuable time out. Sean McDonough said nothing of the mistake. After a commercial break McElroy finally made note of it and said that timeout was like gold for Texas.

When Texas moved quickly to kick its own field goal and cut the lead back to six with under two minutes to go, every second was precious for the Huskies. Once they recovered the on-side kick McDonough said Washington had salted the game away. He had them meeting Michigan for the national championship. But he was wrong. After Washington ran the ball twice into the line forcing timeouts, all they had to do was take a knee and watch 40 seconds run off the clock. That would leave Texas just 10 seconds remaining when Washington would have to punt on fourth down.

Rich Podolsky

Only Penix didn’t take a knee. He handed the ball off once again to ace running back Dillon Johnson who ran into the line and lay on the ground in pain, which stopped the clock. It was a miracle for Texas because they had no other way to stop the clock. So instead of punting with 10 seconds left, they punted with 50 seconds remaining—a horrible change of events for Washington. McDonough made no mention of this horrible screw-up.

The rule to stop the game and not start it again until the next snap is a bad one. McDonough and McElroy should have talked about this rule and detailed the reasoning behind it. Even to the extent to say the rule needed to be changed because it only benefits the team that is trailing. They also should have criticized Washington’s time management. Handing the ball off was a mistake. All it did was get a star player hurt.

Somehow the Huskies held on despite the fact that Texas got three downs from inside the 15 yard line in the final seconds.  

Herbstreit didn’t distinguish himself either

At the end of the Alabama-Michigan game in overtime, ‘Bama had one final play to tie the game from three yards out. When their quarterback took a bad snap, ran straight ahead and was stopped, the game was over. Alabama coach Nick Saban took a lot of heat for the play call and Herbstreit made no effort to explain the choice of plays. But after the game on SportsCenter, Tim Hasselbeck diagrammed why the play was a good one and why it should have worked. Explaining to Scot Van Pelt, Hasselbek diagrammed how  ‘Bama QB Jalen Milroe “should have walked into the end zone” with the alley that opened from the blocking scheme. But after the low snap with Milroe missing a beat, all he could do is grab the ball and hope for the best. The alley had closed. 

This was a perfect explanation, but none of it was ever explained by game analyst Herbstreit. But he did have the gall to brag to Van Pelt about how he selected Washington to win the second game in a shootout when he was on the pregame show. “I couldn’t pick Michigan on the pregame show because I was doing the game,” he said, “but everyone knew I liked them too.”

Hasselbeck also diagrammed how Michigan’s biggest plays—short passes to their running back—were duplicates of plays run in the NFL. He also explained how difficult it is for the defending linebacker to cover the back on those plays. You’d think Herbstriet might have mentioned any of this during the game but I guess he was too busy patting himself on the back. 

Rich Podolsky

Rich Podolsky, an established writer and reporter since the 70s, has been a staff writer for CBS and has written for ESPN, the Philadelphia Daily News, the Palm Beach Post, the Wilmington News Journal, College & Pro Football Newsweekly and TV Guide. He is also the recipient of the prestigious Pennsylvania Newspaper Publishers' Keystone Award for writing excellence. A fan of music from the 60s and 70s, he is the author of "Don Kirshner: The Man with the Golden Ear," which relates how Kirshner discovered Bobby Darin, Carole King and Neil Sedaka among others, and "Neil Sedaka, Rock ‘n’ Roll Survivor,” which tells the inside story of Sedaka’s comeback. His new book, “You Are Looking Live!” is about CBS’ revolutionary pregame show in 1975 which introduced Brent, Phyllis, Irv and The Greek to America.

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