Wisconsin football coach Gary Andersen spoke with the media Tuesday morning on the Big Ten's weekly coaches teleconference. Predictably, Andersen was not asked a single question about Wisconsin's upcoming game against Purdue.
He was, however, asked 11 questions about the outcome of his team's game last week against Arizona State. Though Andersen has rehashed the game on two occasions already -- following Saturday's 32-30 loss and during his weekly Monday press conference with local media members -- he didn't shy away from more talk about the controversial final seconds.
Andersen discussed the idea of a better replay system and whether he would have quarterback Joel Stave hand the ball to referees if given another crack at the same situation. He was open and honest and, though still clearly upset, continued to handle questions with class.
"It is hard when the kids didn't get to decide the game on the field, and they never will be able to," Andersen said. "So to me it's the game that never ended. I don't care what anybody says about that. That's how I feel."
Here is the entire transcript of Andersen's 10-minute conference call with the media:
Andersen: Overall, a tough game obviously. I thought it was two good football teams that played. The outcome is the outcome at this point and away we move forward. I thought our kids played well. It was a good crowd and they played well on the road for the first time.
The trip went well. It was a big-time college football environment. We played right down to the wire. At the end of the day, the kids didn't quite decide that one. But it is what it is. Looking forward to Purdue. Moving forward and getting ourselves back on the practice field today after a light day yesterday and preparing for a Purdue team that's playing very well and speaks for itself on tape.
Q: At what point did you realize Wisconsin would not get another snap off?
A: Never during the game. I felt like once it goes to three obviously the game is basically over with at that point. But I thought for sure when it did go down to zero, with what had taken place and the knowledge that I have in the rules that it would for sure be looked at and re-evaluated at that point through the officials. I never felt until the official basically jogged off the field without communicating that the game would be over.
Q: What is the best way in your experience to get over a loss like this?
A: This one is a little different. To be honest with you, we'll all get over with it. The kids are getting over it. It's a tough one for me because at the end of the day, I've heard it's a human element involved in that, but it's really not. In this case, it's a bigger deal than that.
It's not a call that you can question. It's more than that. Because of that it makes it harder. For me as a coach when I've got to communicate with the kids on the team and tell them what the situation is, I can deal with bad calls or bad calls by coaches or poor decisions by myself or even through officials, but this is different. Because of that it makes it a little bit more difficult for me.
But the kids have moved on. They've done a tremendous job. Kids always seem to recover faster than coaches, and that's a credit to them. We'll be ready to go. We'll have no hangover. Communicating about it, talking about it, we put it to bed yesterday in a team meeting. It's not going to be a big discussion level for us. But it is hard when the kids didn't get to decide the game on the field, and they never will be able to. So to me it's the game that never ended. I don't care what anybody says about that. That's how I feel.
Q: Given the controversy, should there be a mechanism for a replay?
A: My understanding. I don't have the exact understanding but I believe there is something that is built in that way. I'm not an official by any stretch of the imagination. But there is an opportunity to say, 'Hey, let's do something to possibly gather our thoughts.'
At least that's what I've been told on the record as far as what can possibly happen. I was hopeful that was going to take place. That's what I was asking for. That's what I was hoping for. Just calmer heads prevail if we can just take a deep breath here and look at the situation.
Would it have been nice to have that in play for that scenario? But again every scenario is a little different. I sure wish it wasn't that way. I just think if we'd all taken a deep breath and looked at the scenario instead of just moving onwards so quickly, we would have made an educated decision and taken a look at it and see what happened in other games.
It's not like it's the first time it would ever happen where they said 'Hey, let's take a deep breath and look at this thing and see what is going on.' I sure wish they would have done that. Then the kids could have settled it.
Who knows? Do we make the kick? I have no idea. But I like our chances.
Q: Did you hear any buzz in the offseason about difficulties with Pac-12 officials in the past?
A: No. I didn't hear anything like that at all. I've heard all those scenarios since. I heard a couple in the press conference right after the game but I was unaware of any of those situations. It wouldn't have reflected as we walk into a game and believe it's going to be handled the correct way.
Q: Would you come back out to the Pac-12 in the future?
A: Yeah, I believe so. I think it'd be great for recruiting. One situation doesn't continually happen I hope. I hope we can all educate ourselves. I hope it doesn't happen in any game. Not just in the Big Ten. Not just in the Pac-12. I hope we can all learn from it. I think it's great for our kids to get out to the West coast and play a game. It's good for everybody involved. I believe it's two great conferences squaring off against each other. Maybe that game takes a little bit of a rivalry and maybe these two teams meet up again at some point. Who knows? But we would come out again.
Q: Did coaches think it was best to center the ball for kicker Kyle French, or is that a request he made?
A: It definitely is the best for him. Percentage-wise and as we go through. You track all that stuff and look and see where it is. I know that's where he feels most comfortable. But the other thing is besides that, even if it's not, with 18 seconds left, it's not impossible but it's almost impossible to not be able to line up and kick the ball.
Q: Was there any thought to Joel Stave handing the ball to the official?
A: That comes off the teaching tape from coach (Andy) Ludwig. The exact same scenario happened a year ago in the San Diego State-Nevada game. Really a similar situation happened where they dove on the ball. Nevada did and it was stopped. I think there was 12 seconds left in the game actually on our teaching tape. It's crazy how close it is to the exact same situation. We had 18 seconds obviously.
I think if you look at it from a standpoint of saying, 'OK, now he puts the ball down. Does that really save time versus tossing it to an official?' You look at the situation, there's not an official around. The clock is going to run. It's going to keep winding, it's going to keep grinding. The official hasn't touched the ball. It was really, really close to where it's supposed to be at that point. The ball is dead in our mind.
You simulate taking a knee or taking a knee. He did take a knee. If say you're taking a knee, you're a defenseless player. It's all there, and we've all hashed this out a million times. He handled it how we like him to handle it and how he's taught to handle it. It just is what it is.
Q: Would you do it differently this time and flip the ball to an official?
A: If the official was in a spot to get it, yes, which he was not in our game. He would have to toss it over. We'd have to throw the ball 10 or 12 yards to get it to him. In that case, absolutely not. That's going to waste five seconds right there by the time he decides to get moving in the direction towards us.
Q: Is the game already in the rear-view mirror?
A: It sounds like everyone put it to bed who wants to talk about it here. No, we just really discussed it as a team. These kids, good teams are in tightly contested games and these kids did a great job of really moving onward.
I thought our practice yesterday was clean and crisp. They know they have a whole bunch of season in front of them. You hope it doesn't come back and bite you in the end, and I don't think it will. They were great yesterday and excited about the opportunities to move on to Big Ten play. It is what it is and it's life lessons, and we did try to talk about it in the team meeting. Hey, these are life lessons. It is an opportunity as a head coach to teach and talk to kids about things they may handle in life. It's not real fair no matter how you cut it. You've got to deal with them.
Q: Do you think having veteran guys who have been through tough losses helps?
A: I do. I really do. Sometimes you go into a place and you're trying to help kids learn how to win. I don't want to sit here and say you're teaching kids how to deal with a loss, but going through those tightly contested wins and tightly contested losses, it does help them understand how to avoid a hangover the next week and be prepared for the next opponent and respect the next opponent.
Q: Do you have any more reaction to the Pac-12 statement regarding the officials being reprimanded?
A: No. All I would say is you look for the responsibility side of it. Talking to the Big Ten and talking to coach Alvarez, that's really all you can do. It doesn't mean you have to necessarily sit there and feel good about it.
It's a difficult, difficult situation. Nobody won the game at the end of the day and that's what's so hard about it. No best team won or all this stuff that you hear flopping around out there doesn't mean anything. I'm OK with it. It's as good as we can ask for and away we go.
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