TRICK PLAYS RARELY WORK AND THAT'S THE POINT

THE WEIRD SPITE OF A TRICK PLAY IS FOOTBALL'S GREATEST POISON

The lead piece on the mothership right now is Martin Rickman's piece on Valpo's heartstab of the Ole Miss basketball team in the opening game of the 1999 tourney, a three-pointer at the buzzer taken off a full court heave and a quick touch-pass known in the playbook as "Pacer." It's neat, and it's the perfect call for the situation, and it never, ever worked once in practice.

Low-probability plays that work in live game situations like "Pacer" almost never work in practice. This is true of most of the trick plays or desperation schemes you remember in college football. "Circus," the hook-and-lateral play Boise pulled to score the penultimate TD in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, never worked in practice. It also called for up to two more laterals because when Chris Petersen decides to ride the warp drive hard, he pushes the throttle down until the bolts start to rattle out of the bastard.

Most of the other great trick plays remembered as roaring successes in college football never worked in practice either, and with good reason: they rarely work, period. Like that time you won a massive hand in blackjack or got a parking spot in the second row at the mall three days before Christmas, it's a memory specially enshrined several shelves above reality.

Trick plays period usually fail, just like half the plays for a good team in football. Philip Sims, for instance, has probably forgotten all about this:

Sorry, Philip. We didn't, and that's why we looked it up because nothing is funnier than a quarterback flipping the script on a catch-skill player and dropping six precious points clanking to the turf. Your brain's adorable like that: when you see a trick play work, and work with such devastating, humiliating precision, a very stupid and cute part of your brain says "WHY DON'T WE MAKE THE WHOLE PLAYBOOK OUT OF IT."

It should be forgiven for that, though. The whole joy you feel in watching "Circus" or any other trick play work is a smarter part of your brain attaching real joy to hard math, i.e. glee powered by the understanding that what someone just pulled off was by the numbers highly unlikely. A successful trick play is a middle finger in the face of life's actuarial tables, a protagonist reaching for the banana in the final firefight instead of the gun and somehow still winning. A trick play says "I don't want you to lose. I want you to lose in the stupidest, most painful way possible."*

*See: LES FUCKIN' MILES.

This is something we support in ever possible way, and especially when it involves Mark Dantonio ripping off his fleshmask and unveiling the red crazed visage of a demonic gambler.

P.S. Mark Dantonio had a heart attack after this. Don't ever do this again, Mark Dantonio.

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