Example 1: Brett Bielema at Wisconsin. Coach Bielema called a timeout in hopes of getting a call reversed and pinning Oregon inside their own 1 yard line. The play wasn’t reviewable and therefore early in the 3rd quarter Wisconsin was down to 1 timeout. In the final seconds with Wisconsin down they attempted to spike the ball in Oregon territory with :02 seconds on the clock. They spiked the ball but the clock ran out.
If Bielema knew that the play wasn’t reviewable or if he knew (or his assistants knew) the rulebook he wouldn’t have used the timeout and arguable had more time on the clock at the end of the game and would have been able to give his excellent QB a chance to win the game.
Example 2: Mike Gundy of Oklahoma State. Fast forward to the end of regulation in the Fiesta Bowl. Coach Gundy of Oklahoma State had 1 timeout left with Stanford driving and time running out. Seeing that Stanford was going to play for the field goal Gundy saved his final timeout. Why? To attempt to “freeze” the redshirt freshman Stanford kicker. It worked. The Stanford kicker hooked the field goal and the game went into overtime where the same kicker missed yet another kick and Oklahoma State eventually won by, you guessed it, a field goal.
Did Beilema make a bad coaching decision and Gundy a good one? Yes. I understand Bielema’s thought process by calling a timeout in the hope that the officials would review a previous play and hopefully pin Oregon inside their own 1 yard line. Would it have mattered? Considering that Oregon had a 91 yard touchdown run earlier in the game I don’t think pinning Oregon down inside their own 1 yard line would have mattered.
Did Gundy make the right call? I believe so. It was only a few weeks ago that the NFL’s Dallas Cowboy’s coach Jason Garret “freezed” his own kicker on their very same field by calling a timeout right before a kick. This doesn’t always work but knowing that the kicker for Stanford was a redshirt freshman and had already missed a kick earlier in the game Gundy had to believe that this was his teams best shot at forcing the game into overtime.
So there you have it, two examples of coaching. Two different outcomes and two different sets of emotions going through Madison, Wisconsin and Stillwater, Oklahoma.