Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 1/4/12
A BCS game on the line, a vaunted rushing attack, the most hyped quarterback in years is under center...and you put it in the hands of a nervous freshman kicker?  For shame, Stanford. A school known for its smarts showed us the dumb last night, and the stench could linger in Palo Alto for some time. They had Oklahoma State on the ropes. They had the perfect ending to a game, a season, and a historical career right in front of them.  All they had to do was let Andrew Luck do what he does.  It was the perfect story book ending sitting right there in front of us. It was practically writing itself!
 
Maybe those don’t go over well in Palo Alto because I still cannot figure this one out.
 
With a minute to play, the Cardinal have the ball on the Cowboy’s 25 yard-line. On the field you have all-everything quarterback Andrew Luck who made a college career out of thriving under this type of pressure situation. Oh, and you Stephan Taylor who’d churned out 177 yards rushing. Both had shined on their way to rolling up nearly 600 yards of offense for Stanford. You also have three time outs. The stage was set!
 
On the sideline you have a nervous freshman kicker who was not battle tested or used to the pressure - and he’s already missed one easy chip shot field goal.
 
And you go with the kicker instead of trying for the end zone?  I don’t blame the kicker at all. He was not the right choice and it seemed brutally obvious to me at the time. I grimaced as I watched Shaw let the clock run down to the inevitable.
 
David Shaw’s decision should and will go down as one of the greatest coaching blunders in BSC history. Every intangible points to going for the touchdown; you have the motivation (bad kicker), the personnel and the time.  You have the chance to do it right.  This was more than a loss; this was a coach taking one giant step backwards.  How can Shaw justify dismissing the opportunity for his twice-nominated Heisman Trophy quarterback, who’s resume is filled with success in these situations, to win the game for them?  His decision has to be the elephant in the room.  All respect to Oklahoma State, they played a good game, but Stanford played a better game – right up until the coach blew it with his Cardinal sin.
 
All the work Stanford poured in, to put themselves in a position to win – crushed by a horrible coaching decision.   After all the hype about that Cowboy offense, Stanford was poised to make a statement about its program. On the biggest stage, David Shaw made one - he plays not to lose – and it cost the team the ultimate storybook ending.  Imagine Luck throwing or running for the winning touchdown in that situation, the perfect opportunity to send the Stanford legend out in grandiose style.
 
I’d be willing to bet, that if Bill Belichick was in the same situation, he gives the ball to his best weapon, Brady, and tells him to win the game. He doesn’t expect his kicker, the weakest link on the team, to suddenly rise up to the challenge.  No, he goes with the guy that got him this far. 
 
Shaw re-wrote what should have been a euphoric ending into a tale of cowardice. Shaw sent Stanford’s biggest star in decades out with a wimpy right kick wide right, instead of with a bang. And that's a shame.
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