As the clock was running down on regulation play in Saturday's game between the Stanford Cardinal and the USC Trojans, the score was knotted at 34-34 and USC had the ball. On second down, with seconds left, Matt Barkley threw a pass to Robert Woods, who ran out of bounds as time expired. The game was headed to overtime...or was it?
USC head coach Lane Kiffin was absolutely convinced of one of two things: either that Woods had made it out of bounds as time expired, or that he was able to call time out between Woods' knee hitting the ground in-bounds and that one second ticking off the clock. Kiffin yelled, and the referees conferred with one another. After much debate, the officials decided that, no, time had expired, and that, yes, the game was heading to overtime.
This opinion did not appear to satisfy Kiffin, as he kept yelling, then tried a bit of screaming. It was to no avail. The game headed to overtime, where there are no seconds at all. No clock of any kind, in fact. It took three separate overtime periods before Stanford walked away with a 56-48 victory. But what if Kiffin had been given his one second back?
In theory, one second in football is enough time to do anything. You can run the ball all the way to your own goal line, then run it back to the line of scrimmage, then throw it to one of your guys at the opponent's goal line. Then THAT guy can run it back to your own goal line, and repeat ad nauseum. As long as no one catches you, you can run around with zero seconds on the clock all you want. In theory.
In practice, however, one second is usually enough time to get sacked, or to throw an incomplete pass, or to have your rusher run into his own offensive line and fall down. No one knows what would have happened if Kiffin had gotten his extra second, but it probably would have involved yelling; only slightly less of it. Maybe.
What the coach should keep in mind is this: Marty McFly got an extra second. He actually got more than that. But the Libyans still shot Doc Brown. No amount of time travel can change the inevitable.
What's that? You say time travel did save Doc Brown? Oh. Then I don't know what to tell you, Lane. Good luck with the yelling.