Glen Mason’s conversations with common sense

C.J. Spang

A little after the 2006 NFL Draft, ESPN.com’s Bill Simmons wrote a column discussing how every team should hire a regular old fan to act as the team’s common sense on draft day.

The idea behind this came from the Houston Texans’ decision to take Mario Williams with the No. 1 pick rather than Reggie Bush.

In that case, as soon as the staff had mentioned Williams’ name, the commonsense person would have interrupted them with the reminder: “Umm, why are you thinking about not taking Reggie Bush with the top pick in the draft? He’s Reggie Bush!”

Instantly, the Texans staff would realize how stupid it would be to take Williams instead of Bush and they would draft Bush with the No. 1 pick.

I really, really like this concept.

But I think this should be taken a step further, and every team from college on up should have a commonsense person to help with those tough decisions.

Saturday at Purdue, the Minnesota football team could have used a commonsense person a few times.

So without any further ado, here are two imagined conversations between coach Glen Mason and Commonsense Person.

With 4:06 remaining in the first half and the Gophers leading by four points, Mason decided to send out kicker Jason Giannini to attempt a career-long, 51-yard field goal.

GM: Kicking team, get out there!

CS: Umm, coach Ö what are you doing?

GM: I’m kicking the field goal.

CS: Coach, that’s a 51-yarder.

GM: I know that; do you think I’m stupid or something?

CS: (With a puzzled look) Do you really want me to answer that? ‘Cause if you attempt this kick I will.

GM: We need the points. This will put us up by a touchdown.

CS: I don’t care if it would put us up by a million points. It’s a 51-yarder and your kicking game isn’t exactly stellar.

GM: What do you mean by that?

CS: I mean you’re sending out a guy that was 13-19 on field goals last season and 36-44 on extra point attempts. The guy missed eight extra points! The rest of the Big Ten missed 16 combined. One guy on your team missed 33 percent of all missed extra points in the conference!

GM: Well, he hasn’t missed anything this season.

CS: You benched him for the Music City Bowl last year after he played in eight straight games last year. You benched your kicker!

GM: Good point. Kicking team, get back over here. Offense, get out there and convert.

Another time for Commonsense person to intervene was with 2:08 remaining in the game and the Gophers trailing by six points, prompting Mason to decide to punt the ball away.

GM: Punt team, get out on the field.

CS: Coach, if you punt this away the game is over.

GM: If we go for it and don’t convert, the game is over. If we punt, and our defense stops them, we get another crack at winning this game.

CS: You said it yourself: if the defense stops them. Coach, you have no defense. It was one of the worst in the Big Ten last year and, I’m sorry to say, shutting out Kent State and Temple doesn’t mean your defense improved.

GM: I saw Iowa State make this mistake last week against Iowa. The Cyclones went for it on fourth and nine and didn’t convert, sealing the win for Iowa.

CS: You’re right, but at least they gave it a shot. If you

punt here, you may not get it back. This may be your only chance to win it. You’ve got to try and win the game

when you have a chance. Besides, on your last drive, you converted a fourth and 19, so their defense isn’t exactly impenetrable.

GM: I’m confident our defense can stop them.

CS: Everyone else in the stadium knows your defense can’t stop them. You’ve given up 373 yards to this point. They’ve punted only three times. Do you really think they’re going to punt a fourth time?

GM: You’re right. Punt team, get off the field. Offense, take the field. Let’s win ourselves a ballgame. What would I do without you, Common Sense?

CS: Do you really want me to answer that?

– C.J. Spang welcomes comments at [email protected]