LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham runs past UAB tight end Kennard Backman on a 100-yard touchdown return on a missed field goal in the second half Saturday night in Baton Rouge. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Monday, September 09, 2013 10:44 PM
BATON ROUGE — Who says you can’t make a difference? It turns out that, with the right person, meaningful change can literally come overnight, even in the stodgy, snails-pace NCAA.
Sometimes it just takes one kid, one player on a mission.
The funniest sight in the press box Saturday night for LSU’s 56-17 victory over UAB was the sports information staff huddled up in a corner, trying to figure out some way, somehow to get Odell Beckham’s 100-yard touchdown return on a missed field goal to fit into the official statistics, preferably under “all-purpose yardage” where it would rightfully belong.
They tried. And tried. But they failed. The stat sheets were eventually passed out to the media with a mere 231 all-purpose yards credited to him, while an announcement was made that the 100 yards (officially 100; in reality it was 109 total yards) should be added to that total to get to 331.
Beckham had foiled — some would say exposed — the statistical computer program that all NCAA schools use. There was nowhere to input the rarest 100 yards in LSU football history.
Sunday it was the NCAA’s turn for collective head-scratching. According to Bill Martin of the LSU sports information office, the NCAA statistics committee actually had to have an emergency meeting over the dilemma.
They couldn’t figure a way to squeeze them in, either, under any of the accepted categories for all-purpose yards — rushing yards, receiving yards, punt return yards, kickoff return yards and interception return yards.
So as of early Sunday night Beckham, who with the rightfully earned 100 yards would be leading the nation, was still listed as No. 2.
The NCAA finally had to re-program the computer, adding what may become known as the Beckham Column to the statistic.
The NCAA lists the new column as ‘miscellaneous” — on the website page it’s actually “MISCYDS” — perhaps trying to guard against Beckham finding yet another oddball way to gain yardage.
So by late Sunday night, with everything re-programmed, Beckham was leading the nation in all-purpose yardage at 302 per game — and LSU, even at the risk of providing bulletin board material, must have enjoyed the fact that it pushed Alabama’s Christion Jones into second place at 256 per.
But as a result, at least if they want to be up to date, every NCAA school will have to download and upgrade a computer statistical program that has functioned swimmingly for lo these many years with nary a glitch.
Not that it’s likely to come up again anytime soon.
“Certainly, it was something that I’ve never seen,” LSU head coach Les Miles said Monday. “I tried to recall...even on NFL highlights, and I don’t know that I can recall a missed field goal return for a touchdown.”
It has happened occasionally in the NFL. But it’s so rare in college as to almost not exist.
Martin first uncovered one Sunday afternoon with the aid of a YouTube search. E-mails to fellow SEC schools brought word that Tennessee thought it might have one deep in its historical past. The Vols promised to search the files and get back with him.
Thus far, three have emerged, the most recent in 1968 by Richie Iuzzi of Clemson against Georgia. The one on YouTube (do the search) was in 1966, Cal’s Don Guest against Washington. And Tennessee did uncover one James Elmore with a 95-yarder against Carson-Newman — in September of 1926. during the Calvin Coolidge administration, six years before the SEC was formed.
And yet Miles would have you believe it wasn’t a total accident.
“I have to give credit to (special teams coordinator) Thomas McGaughey,” Miles said. “He kind of recognized the potential of that happening.”
Miles said the Tigers practice it once a year.
“He was a little more sensitive to the fact that they might take a fieldgoal try that’s too long, it might give up an opportunity at a return.”
Perhaps, and teams do routinely send returners back on extra long attempts — UAB was taking a shot from 59 yards — more to guard against a sneak pooch punt toward the corner.
But after the game Beckham said he was standing back there thinking it might be a kick that could just get over the crossbar and he might have a chance to jump up and swat it away.
Instead he snagged it 9 yards deep in the end zone and set sail, not really meeting any resistance until almost midfield and easily out-maneuvering what eventually did show up.
“It’s (mostly) an offensive line out there, not a kick (coverage) team,” Miles said. “We had a defensive unit that has a lot more speed on the field than our opponent, and we had enough guys blocking in front of them that...it went well.”
Miles did note that Beckham is the type player whose eyes light up at the possiblity of a big play.
“I guess it’s kind of nice to have a player that doesn’t fit into any of the statistics,” Miles said.
Posted By: Charles Armentor On: 9/12/2013
Title: Beckham for Heisman
Odel Beckham should be in the early stages of the Heisman talk. He is the most exciting offensive player in the nation. A true show to watch when on the field. Why isn't LSU pushing him for consideration??? Oh it's Matt the QB they are pushing. Good luck.