Huge play, sure, but game-changing?
USF picked up a donation of $5,000 this week from Pontiac as part of ESPN's "Game Changing Play" weekly honor. The Bulls won for Matt Grothe's 21-yard touchdown pass to Ean Randolph, which provided the final margin of victory in USF's 24-19 upset of then-No. 7 West Virginia (Not sure why Grothe's part in the play wasn't included in the official release, even if it was a simple dumpoff screen). USF now has a shot to win $100,000 if the play is chosen as "Game Changing Play of the Year."
Thing is, this wasn't even the biggest game-changing play of the game. USF was on West Virginia's 21-yard line when the play took place, had a 14-12 lead, so the lead didn't change, and the result of the play wasn't really even unexpected. If anything, I'd say it was the "Call-Changing Play" of the game, since Randolph was initially ruled out at the 1-yard line, and then after review, was granted the touchdown.
Huge play, one that put the Bulls far enough ahead that even West Virginia's offense seemed pressed to score two touchdowns in a short amount of time. But if I had to pick a game-changing play, truly worthy of the name of the award, I'd have to go with USF's first defensive touchdown of the season, with Chris Robinson forcing a fumble from West Virginia quarterback Pat White, and George Selvie returning the fumble 9 yards for a touchdown. USF was down 6-0 at the time, West Virginia's offense still had confidence and a home crowd behind it. That touchdown gave USF its first lead, one it would never relinquish. It literally changed the game, made it one in which you could believe the Bulls could pull off the upset. So I'm all for USF getting five grand from the Pontiac folks -- and gosh, what a noble gesture from a major corporation, FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS -- but the play that's deserving of such a title came from Robinson and Selvie.
If I had to put money on which USF coach is most likely to be gone in the offseason, I'd point to receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey. ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel reported this week that LSU's Jimbo Fisher is the leading candidate to replace Jeff Bowden at FSU, and if he got that job, he'd bring in a new offensive staff. Dawsey, an FSU alum, was a smart match for the Seminoles before Fisher became part of the process -- it'd give FSU a young, well-known alum who can recruit and relate to players well. Dawsey has gotten significant raises from USF since joining the staff in 2004, and he interviewed for an opening at N.C. State, ultimately deciding to stay. Dawsey's first college job came at LSU under FIsher in 2003, so the two have worked together. I haven't talked to Dawsey -- and I should note that coach Jim Leavitt has opened his assistant coaches up for media interviews, as well as making all bowl practices open to the media -- but last week I sent an e-mail to USF's sports information department, saying that Dawsey's name was going to come up as a possible candidate for FSU's staff, and if he wanted to issue a statement saying he wasn't interested, I'd be happy to print a note to that extent. (If he were worried about the recruiting impact of such rumors, that would put the issue to rest, as Leavitt was largely able to do this week.) No such response, and that doesn't mean Dawsey's leaving, but I'll be curious until he says otherwise.