Posted by Adam Jacobi
Illinois scored six touchdowns in its 41-20 victory over Indiana last week, and the math majors among us know that typically, six TDs is 42 points. But Illinois didn't biff an extra point; it went for two with a 20-13 lead, and the attempt failed. We predicted at the time that Ron Zook's decision to go for two would be "scrutinized," which is really just code for "elicit swear-word filled Tweets from bewildered Illini fans," and that's what happened.
Zook was asked about the conversion attempt, and his response was certainly honest, because it's never the type of response you'd want to make up: according to the Chicago Sun-Times, Zook plain lost track of the score.
"We were down five, right? Up five, I mean," Zook said. "It was 20-13? Up seven? Maybe I didn’t know what the score was. That’s happened to me before. It’s usually when we’re behind. [This will] give you something to pound us about.’’
First of all: WHAT.
Second of all: Okay, the score was 14-13 before Illinois scored its touchdown, so perhaps Zook had a momentary fit of senility and thought his team had been the one with 13 points. That happens, even to very smart people. Except, here's the thing: Zook also has an entire staff of assistant coaches, and unless they were all mistaken about the score, those guys missed two opportunities to tell him the Illini were up by seven, not five.
After Illinois scored its touchdown, Indiana coach Kevin Wilson sent out his kick block team, because, well, duh. So when Zook trotted out his offense, Wilson was forced to call his last timeout of the half. It seemed like a brilliant ploy by Zook to get Indiana out of timeouts before the end of the half even came into play. And yet, on went that two-point team again, after the timeout when everybody on the Illinois sideline could reevaluate the situation -- or, at the very least, glance at the scoreboard.
Anyway, the conversion attempt obviously failed* and Illinois had only a seven-point lead. That didn't end up affecting the endgame, but if it did, hoo boy; mental errors are a great way for a coach to get right back on the hot seat.
*I'd love to see data on how often two-point conversions succeed in the first three quarters as opposed to the fourth. My hypothesis is that they're wildly unsuccessful early in the game, but that's just a guess. Get on that data right away, SCIENCE.