Life lesson for Wolverines

Courtesy of Flickr Creative commons
When I was in seminary, I had a professor who was one of the best New Testament scholars in the world (D.A. Carson). He would give us these Bible quizzes that were RIDICULOUS. He’d ask totally obscure questions. Most people hated them. Dr. Carson wasn’t empathetic when one day he said “life is hard and then you die, get used to it.”

We all laughed.

Today’s Ohio State game against their rivals was one for the ages. The kind of game that adds mystique to this great rivalry.

But so much of what I’m hearing from Wolverine fans isn’t pride for their team or appreciation for a great game. It’s complaining about a close call on a fourth and one.

In the second overtime, U of M was up by 3, when Ohio State went for it on fourth and 1.

Ohio State quarterback JT Barrett ran it, and on a close play, the official on the field said he had a first down. The play was then reviewed. I hear people arguing that Barrett was so clearly short.

Was he?

Honestly, how are people arguing he was several inches short of the line?
At the very least, it was an extremely close call. From the camera angle on tv, with a call that close, you really can’t tell.

From pictures that are more straight on, it looks like he had it. 

People want to blame that play.

But I do think there’s a life lesson in this.

U of M did not lose the game because of that play or that call. To act like the officials lost the game for them is unfair and an excuse. The play took Ohio State to the 15 yard line, not to the end zone. U of M still had an opportunity to get a stop, instead of doing what they did (allowing the Bucks to score on the next play of the game).

With 6:37 left in the third quarter, U of M scored to go up 17-7. Considering how poorly the Ohio State offense had performed, things were not looking good for the Buckeyes. The lone touchdown for OSU had been scored by their defense.

Late in the third quarter, U of M quarterback Wilton Speight threw a costly interception, ran back to the U of M 13 yard line. Again, considering how badly OSU had played on offense, a touchdown was not a foregone conclusion.

But then an unforced offsides penalty added 5 more yards. And as mindless as that penalty was, Jim Harbaugh got an EVEN DUMBER penalty on an unsportsmanlike conduct and OSU was suddenly on the 4 yard line.

Two plays later, Mike Weber scored.

On the following U of M drive, the third quarter expired as they picked up a first down. U of M would pick up 5 yards on a second down run. But from that point on, they had an offensive net of 0 yards in the fourth quarter.

U of M got a two score lead and failed to close. Turnover. Lack of offense. Inability to keep their defense off the field. Unnecessary penalties. For instance, on Ohio State’s last drive of regulation, JT Barrett threw a bad third down pass that was uncatchable but he was interfered with. The defender didn’t need to interfere! But it was an obvious call in that situation.

Ohio State had a great drive that resulted in a chip shot field goal. Miraculously (if you’re a U of M fan), Ohio State missed.

But then the Wolverines had a quick 3 and out and gave the ball back to Ohio State. On a 13 play drive, Ohio State drove 77 yards.

For the game, Ohio State had fewer penalties, won the turnover battle 3-1, had more total yards. In the fourth quarter, Ohio State dominated.

In sports, and in life, don’t ignore all of your past mistakes and then blame others. I’m not saying the officials made the wrong call. We like to think that the spot is always going to be perfect. They’re human beings who are watching and doing their absolute best to figure out where the ball goes. Instead of just focusing on spotting the ball that one time, how about doing things in such a way where it doesn’t come down to that? And when it does, and it doesn’t go your way, you still have some control over how you respond.

It’s the same way in life. We might put ourselves into a bad position. Based on a number of choices we’ve made that put us there. And even in that situation, we still have opportunities to succeed. But when you’re there, and one thing doesn’t go your way, look at that in the context of everything else that brought you to that place.

U of M lost because they failed to close out the game. 60 minutes of regulation and they didn’t win. They were totally outplayed in the fourth quarter.

Don’t leave life up to someone else’s call on a couple of inches. And if you do, and you don’t get the break, quit whining, learn and move on. Life is hard and then you die, get used to it. Some people go their whole lives and never accept responsibility. It’s always someone else’s fault, or a system’s fault.