Mike Merrell’s Three-and-Out
Acting is a big part of football: the pump fake, the play action pass, the fake punt, fake extra point kicks or field goals, flea flickers, the Statue of Liberty, and regrettably, fake injuries. When done well acting is an art form, something you have to appreciate even when it’s some other team doing it to your team.
By its very nature acting circumvents sincerity — on the surface a bad thing. But like everything else, acts can be good, bad or just plain ugly. Charles and our other analysts do a great job of explaining how good acting in football adds to the game, so there’s no need to go there. But even among the acts that are just plain bad, there is still the good, the bad and the ugly. The good, the bad and the ugly of bad football acts is the subject of this week’s Three-and-Out.
1. The good-bad are worth some laughs. We’ve all been to movies that were SO bad that we just had to see them again … and again … and again. They’re so bad that they’re good, as if making a truly bad movie is an art form in itself.
Nonetheless, there is probably a good reason that Hollywood set up the movie business in southern California, as opposed to, say … Berkeley. If you are a fan of bad movies, you certainly won’t want to miss The Fake Punt, starring the Berkeley Bears’ Cole Leininger. Imagine trying to pass this one off against USC, of all teams. The USC! Not the one in South Carolina, but the one just mere blocks away from Hollywood!
And here’s one that literally caused a riot: someone impersonating a Pac-12 referee. It kind of reminds me of the time my brother pinned a “We give S & H Green Stamps” sign on the local house of ill repute — so wrong, and yet so right! And our actor/referee even added credence to his impersonation of a Pac-12 official by blowing the whistle at the wrong time. The only thing that could have made it even more perfect would have been Coke bottle eye glasses. And yes, it was a riot!
2. The bad-bad — just plain bad. You can’t appreciate the injuries faked to slow down the game, and of course it doesn’t help when the acting is poorly done (which brings to mind another example of why Hollywood is not next door to Berkeley). Then the poor crippled player races back onto the field after sitting out one play! Oregon fans are so accustomed to this form of bad acting that they have come to assume that injuries aren’t real and lay out the boos. (Don’t do that, by the way — or at least wait until the “injured” players return to the field after sitting out one play.)
Arizona’s place kicker Casey Skowron (feature photo above) did it one better by faking an oh-they-ran-into-me-I-am-in-so-much-pain moment as soon as he saw that he had missed a game-winning (or in this case, game-losing) field goal against (coincidence?) USC.
Of course, once Skowron realized that his performance did not win the coveted yellow flag award – probably because nobody actually ran into him — he got up and sulked off the field on his own power. This is just plain bad-bad — nothing more than a cheap attempt to cheat.
3. The ugly-bad. “Forget it, Jake – It’s Chinatown.” The true ugliness of bad occurs when it’s so bad that people worship it. It is truly wrong, and entertaining only in a sick way. As in the movie Chinatown, when people commit certain types of crimes they get sent to prison, but when they commit crimes against an entire community they have streets named after them or get statues erected in their honor in City Hall. The football equivalent of such honors is Heismans and high rankings, and the football equivalent of Chinatown the movie is Florida State, starring Jameis Winston. Ranked number one in the current AP Poll, this year the Seminoles have not beaten a single team currently ranked in the top 25 of the AP Poll. Much like Notre Dame of two years ago, they have struggled too many times to pull out narrow wins against teams that everybody knows are simply mediocre.
While the Seminoles on-the-field results for 2014 are less than stellar, their off-the-field conduct – and their refusal to do anything to clean it up — comprises a crime against the entire community of intercollegiate athletics. The latest in a long string of stories is that FSU top cornerback P.J. Williams was involved in a hit-and-run in October, and true to FSU form, it was swept under the table. Forget it, Jake – It’s Chinatown.
One act that while still not great is certainly an improvement is the four-team Division I-A playoff. If the two-team BCS Championship were still in place it is undeniable that this year’s championship game would be between undefeated-but-hasn’t beaten-anybody-who’s-anybody Florida State and the eventual champion of the SEC, which habitually shies away from West Coast competition and schedules patsies in November to help pave the way through an eight-game conference schedule. The four team playoff is far from perfect, but at least it gives somebody outside of the lower right corner of the country a chance.
Top photo from video