Double-numbering Bulls upset Cincy coach
If you've been reading here a while, you know one of this blog's favorite obscure fascinations is USF's strange tradition of allowing multiple players to wear the same jersey number, and the wacky silliness that can only happen when two players wearing the same number try to get on the field at the same time.
We wrote back in August that Skip Holtz doesn't like sharing jersey numbers, but was respectfully grandfathering in veteran players so they didn't have to change their numbers. The NCAA allows a team to have multiple players with the same number, but if you put them on the field at the same time, it's technically an "illegal numbering," subject to a 5-yard penalty.
And as a result, we can report what almost certainly must be a USF record for a player changing his number mid-game to avoid such a conflict ... twice (!) in his career, as walk-on special-teams player Chris Lane has now done. (Rewind: Last year, USF had to call a time out against Charleston Southern when coaches noticed that Lane, on the punt block unit, was wearing the same No. 23 as punt returner Faron Hornes; they solved the problem by giving Lane jersey No. 24 to avoid the conflict.)
So at the end of the first half Friday, after Cincinnati settled for a field goal with 36 seconds left, USF had to make a last-minute change on the kickoff return team, adding running back Bradley Battles as a blocker. Problem is, Battles wears No. 24, which means he and Lane were on the field on the same play. The officials didn't notice, but Cincinnati coach Butch Jones sure did -- watch the replay, you'll see he's livid with the officials at the end of the half. (Realistically, all the penalty would do is allow Cincy to rekick, but Lindsey Lamar had muffed two first-half kickoffs, so I suppose they'd cost the Bearcats an opportunity to recover a fumble or something like that.)
So Lane, having traded his 23 for a 24 last season, solved the problem by switching to No. 27 for the second half -- he'll keep that number the rest of the season. There's no potential conflict for the rest of Lane's senior year, as running back Dontae Aycock, who is sitting out this season after transferring from Auburn, is the other No. 27.
Cincinnati's coach can have the small consolation of knowing that it's not the first time the Bulls have gotten away with the double-numbering trick. Back in 2004, my first season covering the Bulls, USF got into the same trouble on their "hands team" while attempting an onsides kick late in a 27-20 loss against Southern Miss. Two of USF's greatest players ever, running back Andre Hall and cornerback Mike Jenkins, were both in on the play and both wearing No. 2, but the officials didn't notice. Had they spotted it, the resulting flag could have negated a successful onsides kick. ...