Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Stop ... all ... the ... timeouts
By Tim Keown
Get your Super Bowl somewhere else. The guys in Detroit are reporting, blogging and working the room like John Clayton on Mountain Dew Accelerant, or whatever their new version of a three-day bender happens to be.
No, this is not the place to bash Detroit, or the Super Bowl matchup, or the indignities perpetrated on the Seahawks by the heartless oddsmakers. This isn't even the place to read an impassioned lament regarding the two-week wait between games.
You can look almost anywhere else in the ethereal ether and find someone breaking down some infinitesimal aspect of Sunday's game. It's really the game within the game, with everybody who knows everything vying to prove it first.
This isn't meant to diminish the time-wasting legitimacy of those endeavors. Pontificating about the Super Bowl and complaining about the Super Bowl site are, without a doubt, among the sporting world's most regal time wasters.
But they pale in comparison to the biggest and most important time waster of all: the final minute of nearly every college basketball game.
They simply won't end. Coaches take over and timeouts are called, foul shots are shot and pretty soon you've spent 10 minutes watching 23 seconds. The cutoff point for fouling and time-outing, if memory serves correctly, used to be six or seven points when the game clock dipped beneath 30 seconds. Now, coaches are routinely hopping up to call timeouts and the assistants are scurrying around with clipboards and student managers are frantically bringing the stools out with 15 seconds left in a 10-point game.
One of the most extreme cases of timeout exhaustion came in Sunday's Washington-Stanford game. There were six timeouts called in the final 5.9 seconds of the game. Think about that: more timeouts than seconds.
The worst thing about it? It worked. Stanford kept calling timeouts until it won the game. I'm still not sure exactly how it happened, but I think it had something to do with calling so many timeouts that Washington got to the point that it couldn't tell the difference between the clock's moving and the clock's being stopped.
Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar, perhaps thinking it was a contest, called one timeout for every timeout Stanford called. And his team was ahead.
So it turns out Washington -- confused, tired and understandably disinterested -- forgot to play defense in the last 2.3 seconds. Then a freshman guard realized the clock was moving so he fouled a guy shooting a 3 with two-tenths of a second left. The three free throws tied the game. After overtime and a few more timeouts, Stanford won.
The success of this maneuver will be felt deep inside every one of us. In the end, it will lead to more of what took place over the course of those 5.9 seconds.
In other words, more of nothing. As if we don't have enough of "nothing" this week.
This Week's List
• No matter what, this has to be an angle: The Seahawks, of course, are feeling disrespected.
• Not to be outdone: The Steelers are feeling a little of that, too.
• Then again: Maybe the Seahawks are right.
• Even if you ignore the grammatical hatchet wielding, this description of a Pro Bowl quarterback seems unnecessary and ignorant: According to a prominent East Coast NFL columnist, Hasselbeck is "another in the long list of anonymous backups to Favre when he basically just occupied a roster spot with the Packers."
• The first must-read of Super Bowl week: Michael Rosenberg's column in Monday's Detroit Free-Press, offering a guide for sportswriters intent on ripping his city.
• An obvious question that needs to be asked on GP: Just wondering how many of the working-class people who actually built the stadium that made the Super Bowl in Detroit possible -- i.e., the taxpayers of Detroit -- will be attending the game Sunday?
• And they say the NBA has no comparable "Moneyball" general manager: In the increasingly famous sexual harassment lawsuit, it is alleged that Isiah Thomas tried to get more Sunday noon games so he could implement his plan of directing visiting teams to strip clubs the night before.
• I guess that's one team Isiah can't influence: Jeff Van Gundy, disgusted with his team's poor home performance, attempted to simulate road conditions by locking the players' lounge and feeding the team cold sandwiches.
• Fashion statement: People upset about Adam Morrison's mustache/hair combo are only encouraging him.
• And the question is, did somebody actually ask? Early last week, I received an e-mail from a public relations firm touting a "digestologist" (or something like that) who is ready to explain, "Why Super Bowl Fans Stink."
• If you're interested, I can pass along the number: The e-mail in question included the following: "Flatulence, stomach pain, bloating, heartburn, indigestion, and growling guts are all conditions that can be end-run by fans with a good Super Bowl party defense.
Interview Bill Downs, one of the world's foremost experts on diet and digestion, and find out how football fans can avoid gassing out their guests at this year's Super Bowl party."
• And finally: Anyone else getting the feeling Brett Favre is taking retirement lessons from Roger Clemens?
Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.