It's time to question 'icing' the kicker


It's time to question 'icing' the kicker

"Im a man! Im 40! Ice Me!" Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State head coach

Ted Griggs

OK, Mike Gundy didnt actually say the last part of that quote -- but I wish he had.

Gundy, Oklahoma States head coach, gained national attention and became at Internet sensation in 2007 when he defended former starting quarterback Bobby Reid at a press conference after a critical column in The Oklahoman.

One of the things Gundy said about Reid was "Here's all that kid did: He goes to class! He's respectful to the media! He's respectful to the public! And he's a good kid. And he's not a professional athlete and he doesn't deserve to be kicked when he's down."

The same could be said about Stanfords placekicker, Jordan Williamson.

The redshirt freshman missed a 35-yard field goal as time expired that would have won yesterdays Fiesta Bowl for Stanford.

RELATED: Stanford suffers heartbreaking loss in Fiesta Bowl

As the 19-year old Williamson lined up for that kick, Gundy did what 99.9 percent of all college football head coaches would have done. He called a timeout to ice the kicker.

Icing the kicker is ploy to make him think a little longer about the stakes, to psych him out, to potentially give him what golfers call the yips. Is this really something a grown man getting paid hundreds of thousands -- if not millions -- of dollars should do to a 19-year old college student?

When I saw pictures of Oklahoma State fans and Gundy celebrating after Williamsons missed kick juxtaposed to shots of Williamsons tears (from which the ABCESPN cameras wisely and thankfully cut away), I instantly remembered Gundys 2007 speech where he went on to say, "Come after me! I'm a man! I'm 40! I'm not a kid. Write something about me, or our coaches. Don't write about a kid that does everything right, that's heart's broke ...

This isnt sour grapes, Oklahoma State won and Stanford lost, fair and square. There are scores of plays that go into a win or a loss. And to be fair, no one will ever know if Gundys timeout caused Williamson to miss the kick. Moreover, Gundy seems to be a very good man. He humbly gave Stanford credit after the Fiesta Bowl and dedicated the victory to the memory of the four members of the OSU athletic department who died in a plane crash this fall.

Gundy seems to have perspective. I just wish he -- and every college coach -- had more. Stanfords David Shaw also calls time outs to ice the kickers. He did it early in the season against lowly Duke and again before the Cowboys Quinn Sharp made a chip shot 22-yarder to win the game in overtime.

In fact, in the 2006 Orange Bowl, the two coaches who have won the most games in Division I college football history -- Florida States Bobby Bowden and Penn States Joe Paterno -- each successfully iced the other teams kickers. The Nittany Lions kicker missed an overtime field goal and Seminoles kicker missed not one, but two possible game-winners. The game ended with the two legends hugging and laughing about the missed kicks. Watching that, my stomach turned at the thought of two septuagenarian coaches playing head games with college kids, inducing failures that would perhaps haunt those players until they reached their 70s.

Of course, Bowden later had 12 of his 389 victories erased from the record due a minor scandal and Paterno is now embroiled in a major one. Karma, as they say, is a bitch.

Admittedly, theres probably no way to make a rule against icing the kicker. Coaches can claim they are taking the time out to set their defense for a possible block. I just wish all college coaches would let a kid make a kick or not without employing the head games. After all, it is just a game and coaches should have enough class to remember that kids real job is to go class.

This isnt the pros where at least failing kickers like Buffalos Scott Norwood (who infamously missed a game-winner at the end of Super Bowl XXV) get paid. Jordan Williamson is a 19-year old student. Yes, hes getting a scholarship at one of the most prestigious (and expensive) universities in the world, but few would want to trade places with him when Stanford resumes classes in a few weeks.

The brief shots of his anguished face at the end of the game left me with two thoughts: First, Im glad Williamson has those few weeks to put this behind him. And second, as for icing a college student-athlete -- no matter who does it -- Gundys final words as he stormed out of that 2007 press conference to applause are perhaps the most appropriate of all.

It makes me want to puke, he said as he slammed the door.

Ted Griggs is the vice president and general manager of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

Limping Love leads Stanford to Big Game win over Cal


Limping Love leads Stanford to Big Game win over Cal


PALO ALTO — Bryce Love rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown despite missing most of the fourth quarter after aggravating an ankle injury, and No. 20 Stanford held off California 17-14 on Saturday to keep its Pac-12 title hopes alive.

K.J. Costello completed 17 of 26 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown, Ben Edwards made a key interception in the fourth quarter and Cameron Scarlett rushed for 49 yards on the final drive in place of Love to help the Cardinal (8-3, 7-2 Pac-12) milk the clock and win its eighth straight Big Game.

Stanford can earn a spot in the Pac-12 championship game against USC but needs some help.

The Cardinal can get there if No. 15 Washington State loses to No. 16 Washington next week. If the Cougars — who beat Stanford 24-21 on Nov. 4 — beat the Huskies, they get the nod because of the tiebreaker.

The nation's leading rusher going into the game, Love was held in check most of the game by Cal's defense and sat out the final 11:43 after re-injuring his ankle that has bothered him for the past month. He did stay on the field long enough to score a 57-yard touchdown — his 11th run of 50 yards or longer this season.

Scarlett, Love's primary backup all season, also came up big for Stanford. Scarlett rushed for 61 yards, the majority coming on the Cardinal's last drive that took the final 7:25. Scarlett's 2-yard gain on 4th-and-1 kept the drive going.

Patrick Laird ran for 153 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries while Ross Bowers passed for 182 yards and a touchdown for California. The Golden Bears (5-6, 2-6) need a win in their final game to become bowl eligible in coach Justin Wilcox's first season.


California: The Bears made the Cardinal sweat and kept the game a lot closer than many thought possible. Wilcox's defense did a good job bottling up Love most of the game but couldn't stop Scarlett on the final drive which was huge. Still, there are plenty of positives for Cal to take out of this one.

Stanford: It wasn't the best game for David Shaw's team but the Cardinal gritted it out and held off a pesky Cal team that had plenty to play for. The conference title can still happen but before that Stanford has a pretty big game coming up against Notre Dame.


California: Ends the regular season at UCLA on Saturday.

Stanford: The Cardinal stay home and will host No. 9 Notre Dame on Saturday. Stanford has won the last two and six of last eight against the Irish.

Former Cal running back suffers scary spine injury, taken to hospital


Former Cal running back suffers scary spine injury, taken to hospital

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The New Orleans Saints say running back Daniel Lasco has feelings in his extremities after suffering a spinal injury making a tackle on a kickoff return during today's game at Buffalo.

Lasco was loaded into an ambulance on the field and taken to a hospital.

He was hurt six minutes into the second quarter when he appeared to lower his head while tackling Bills returner Brandon Tate. 

Lasco played four seasons at the University of California, Berkeley. He gained 1,471 yards from scrimmage with 14 touchdowns his junior year. In 2015 as a senior, Lasco was limited to nine games and only totaled 355 yards. 

The Saints selected Lasco in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

The Associated Press contributed to this report