Louisville completely obliterated Florida International Saturday afternoon, 72-0. The victory was every bit as dominating as the score might indicate. The box score only adds to it. The Cardinals only put together 464 yards of offense but the defense held FIU to just 30 yards of total offense. Heisman Trophy candidate Teddy Bridgewater passed for 212 yards and four touchdowns to highlight the day, but the game brought on a mild controversy as well. The game went to a running clock as Louisville was clearly on their way to a victory, and after the game there was some confusion as to who made the call to institute the running clock.
Louisville head coach Charlie Strong said the running clock was mutually agreed to at the beginning of the second half.
Strong says the running clock was mutually agreed upon in the remainder of the second half
— Howie Lindsey (@howielindsey) September 21, 2013
Florida International head coach Ron Turner told a different tale…
#FIU Turner said he didn’t request a running clock nor did officials talk to him about one
— David Neal (@DavidJNeal) September 21, 2013
WOW. Charlie Strong says #UofL and FIU coaches did talk about a running clock. Ron Turner totally denied it.
— Jonathan Lintner (@JonathanLintner) September 21, 2013
So just who was responsible for the decision to go with a running clock? It turns out it may have been the officials, who also appear to have done so against normal American Athletic Conference policies. Eric Crawford of WDRB in Louisville reports via Twitter the refs called the clock operators and asked for a running clock, taking it upon themselves to provide FIU with some mercy. The refs used hand signals to communicate with the clock operator.
According to Jonathan Lintner of Courier-Journal, citing an American official, teams may agree to shorten the length of a period but a running clock should not have been used.
The running clock in the college game is a rarity, but games like this nearly require it out of mercy. It was clear FIU had nothing to stop anything Louisville did, just as Florida A&M had no chance of stopping Ohio State up in Columbus. Regardless of how it came in to play, it’s good that it did. Louisville may have scored 90 if the clock stopped.
UPDATE (6:10 p.m.): Conference USA Coordinator of Officials Gerald Austin released a statement to clear up the confusion on the running clock situation (Conference USA officials were used in the game). In it Austin explains there was a misinterpretation by the game’s officials. The statement reads:
“Coach Turner made a comment to one of the officials that, given the amount of injuries and the limited numbers of players he had available, he wanted to run the ball in the second half. One official misinterpreted that comment. Coach Turner, at no time requested that the clock run. FIU threw just one pass in the second half.
After reviewing the tape there were five times that the clock should have been stopped and it did not. Four times were on first down and one play where the runner went out of bounds, based on a quick review of the video.”
So there you go. It was all just a big misunderstanding.