Notre Dame lost to Georgia by one point, 20-19, on Saturday night in South Bend, Ind. That the margin of defeat was such it could be overcome by a single possession of the ball was of note to Indianapolis Star beat reporter Laken Litman, who remembered that Notre Dame last year had its share of difficulty winning games in which one possession made all the difference, and asked Kelly about what may or may not have been changed to prevent another such season.
OK, so Brian Kelly’s feelings are hurt because he lost, and he needs to take it out on a reporter. Fine. Oldest trick in the book, employed by thin-skinned men like Brian Kelly since time immemorial. Laken Litman slept just fine last night, I’m sure.
But if you’re going to do that … if you’re going to throw a little red-eared tantrum and try to embarrass a reporter on the basis of her phrasing, then you ought to make sure you are at least correct.
“Losing by one possession? No, it was one point.”
So here’s a little lesson in language and football strategy for Brian Kelly:
In football, unlike baseball, the only way to score is to possess the ball. When you possess the ball, it is possible to score between two and eight points before you have to give it back. However, without the ball, it is impossible to score any points, even one, except by safety. So it can rightly be said that any game decided by eight or fewer points is a game that has been decided by one possession.
That all, of course, is pretty academic and theoretical, so let’s just use the facts of the game to illustrate the point. The score of the game changed for the last time when Georgia (1) possessed the ball, and (2) made a “three-point kick” with 3:34 left in the fourth quarter. And so it was that Brian Kelly lost another one-possession game.