Greg Schiano; Time Bandit

Around these parts, Rutgers' Greg Schiano has taken his share of shots over the past few years for various coaching decisions. During the Scarlet Knights' 26-24 victory over UConn on Saturday, however, the fifth-year coach pulled a fast one on the Huskies that may have spelled the difference between a win and a loss --- and it was all perfectly legal.

Rutgers was holding on to its two-point lead as it took possession of the ball at its own 43 with 2:40 to go. Having used up its timeouts on a scoring drive moments before, UConn had tried an onside kick, but Graig Vicidomino's attempt skidded harmlessly out of bounds.

Knowing the clock was firmly on his side, Schiano dipped into his bag of tricks. After Brian Leonard gained three yards on a rush up the middle, the Scarlet Knights were slow getting into their huddle.

The 25-second clock ticked away, as did the game clock, which clicked down under the 2:00 mark. As Rutgers leisurely contemplated its second-down play, wide receiver Tres Moses suddenly came bursting on to the field to join the huddle.

Seconds later, the officials threw their flags. An illegal substitution penalty was called, pushing back Rutgers five yards. The Scarlet Knights got a fresh 25 seconds on the play clock, however, sending a dagger into the time-starved Huskies.

UConn eventually forced Rutgers to punt. But by the time it got the ball back, the game, barring a miracle was over.

The Huskies were at their own 9, about 70 yards out of Matt Nuzie's field goal range, and they had a mere 20 seconds to get there.

If the illegal substitution penalty had stopped the clock, the Huskies would have had, theoretically, 45 seconds to get upfield. Those extra 25 seconds would have felt like a cold canteen of water to UConn after three days in the Mojave.

But those seconds had been fiendishly, cleverly, and legally, stolen away.

Edsall never mentioned Rutgers' ploy after the game. The subject never came up until Monday, in fact, when Edsall fielded a question during the Big East's weekly teleconference with its coaches.

Edsall didn't blame Rutgers for taking advantage of the rules. But he did say he would talk to Big East officials about changing the rule for 2006.

"I don't think that's right," Edsall said of the rule currently in place. "Technically, if you wanted to do that, and they started the clock, you could run the clock out." Edsall had a simple solution to the quandary the rule now creates.


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