Last week Joe Posnanski wrote a piece on his blog inspired by watching the movie Source Code. It's a variation of the ever-popular "What If" vein of sports related writings, but rather than simply go with the rather boring "What if result X was different?", Joe puts some restrictions on what actions are allowable, based on the movie (I assume they are based on the movie, I've never actually seen it myself). Those conditions are:
- You can't change a sporting RESULT. That is, you can't make Laettner miss the shot. But you CAN try to convince Pitino to guard the passer. Also, you only have 8 minutes in which to enact this change (the 8 minute limit is based on the movie).
- You can't create a closed ending. That is, the result of the change has to leave everything open ended. If Laettner misses the shot then UK wins, but by guarding the passer there is still a chance that Duke could win the game. This is a bit tricky, but as Joe puts it, "The point here is to change something and then let a new ending unfold naturally."
I thought a UK-centric version would be a fun topic. There are a lot of moments in UK sports history that would be candidates for this kind of thing and they don't all have to come from big games.
UK-Duke 1992: Tell Pitino to Guard The Passer. Really, what more needs to be said? Here's a couple of follow-up questions to discuss: Whom would you convince Pitino to use to guard Grant Hill and how would you defend Laettner? Do you double team him and leave someone else open?
UK-LSU 2002 Football: Put two defenders in the end zone. Also while I'm at it, I tell the rest of the team to hold off on the Gatorade. I say the end zone, but really they just need to be between Devery Henderson and the end zone. Having two guys back there makes it more likely that at least one of them grabs Henderson and keeps him from going in for the winning score after catching the deflection.
UK-Wisconsin 2003: Take Keith Bogans out of the game with 4:00 to play in the 1st half. Keith's ankle was injured at the 3:32 mark. Taking him out prevents the injury from occurring and he can go back in at the next TV timeout. A healthy Bogans is a much greater factor on both offense and defense for both the Wisconsin and Marquette games. Also, the team doesn't have to lean on Estill so much against UW and he is more rested for Marquette.
- Women's Basketball: Pay Pat Summitt's traveling expenses. I'm a bit unsure of this one. I've read in places (including on ASoB although I can't find the comments) that Summitt was going to interview for the UK job at some point before she went to Tennessee, but the school wouldn't pay for her trip to Lexington to interview for the job. I can't find anything written about it, but if true then taking 8 minutes to convince the AD or whomever to pay the $200 or so might have dramatically changed history. There's still no guarantee that she would have been hired, but it is not far fetched to believe that if she had then the UK Women's program might have more championships than the men right now.
UK-Michigan St. 2005: Call a timeout at the end of the 1st OT. With 25 seconds to play in a tie game UK got a rebound from a missed Kelenna Azubuike jump shot. Azubuike got the ball again, dribbled into trouble and never got a shot off, sending the game to a 2nd OT. UK had a timeout to burn and if it had been used when Kelenna got into trouble there would have been enough time to reset and get a good shot. It might still have missed, but at least there would be a chance to win that UK never got.
That's 5. There are certainly more situations that would fit, so please suggest them along with the change you would make under the stated conditions! Here are a few things I thought about but reject because I don't think it would be possible to change them based on the given conditions.
- Keep Bear Bryant as football coach. Based on this article on Jon Scott's website, I don't see any single time or situation that could be altered to make it more likely that Bryant would stay at UK.
- Prevent various basketball/football scandals. Similar to the Bryant situation, the various scandals that have affected UK sports are too wide ranging to be changed. At best, a specific instance of cheating might be prevented but that would not solve the underlying problem and would only postpone sanctions.