A round table of sympathy – and not empathy – unfolded Tuesday during the Pacific-10 Conference coaches teleconference, all in accordance that what took place at the end of the Huskies-Arizona game Saturday night was just plain ol' blind misfortune.
Arizona held a 33-28 lead with just under three minutes remaining when it had the ball following a UW score. The Wiildcats tried a bubble-screen pass that linebacker Mason Foster and strong safety Victor Aiyewa broke in front of.
Arizona quarterback Nick Foles tried hitting receiver Delashaun Dean further up the field – only the pass was behind Dean. OK, except the ball hit off the heel of Dean's cleats, and bounced backward, and directly in the arms of Foster, who returned it 37 yards for the game-winning score.
The UW won, 36-33.
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"That was a minor miracle," said Jim Harbaugh, the coach of Arizona's opponent this week – Stanford.
One by one, many of the coaches were asked if they not only had seen the bizarre play at the end of the game, but if they had experienced anything like it during their careers, either as a coach or player.
"I can't imagine what coach (Mike) Stoops went through," Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson said. "Never seen anything like it. Been through just about everything, but that's not one of them."
Even though Dean came out Monday and said the ball deflected off the turf at Husky Stadium – not his shoe – Stoops and many of the players have stated that nothing on replay makes it decisive either way.
"You got to let it go. You've got to. You can't hold on to it, or it will devastate you," Stoops said.
Oregon State coach Mike Riley noted an ending like that is "my biggest nightmare."
Then he told a story about when he was a coach in the World League in 1992 for San Antonio. At the end of the game, he had his offense attempt to down the ball to kill the clock on a victory.
"The center snapped the ball low to our quarterback, and he kicked it through the defensive line," Riley said. "The safety had the ball running down the sideline. But he ducks out of bounds when the clock goes to zero."
Disaster avoided, Riley said. It's a lesson he reminds his Beavers' squads once a year. But what happened to Arizona in Seattle also serves as a reminder – that anything can happen.
"It's like the destiny or fate of football," Riley said. "There are strange things that happen, and that's why I'm really conservative at those points of the game with the lead."
Other tidbits from Tuesday:
• With all that's gone on the past two weeks – a controversial loss at Notre Dame, followed by a dramatic win over Arizona – UW coach Steve Sarkisian was asked about how the mechanics of instant replay can be improved.
The coach gave a plausible suggestion: Bring in as many replay cameras needed to do the job right.
"(Indisputable evidence) … needs to be 100 percent, not 95 percent," Sarkisian said. "Once there's doubt, there's doubt."
• With temperatures expected to hover right about 100 degrees for kickoff Saturday at Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz., Sarkisian said the team will next couple days in the Dempsey Indoor Center.
"We'll be OK," the coach said.
• Quick stuff from practice: Again, Nick Wood practiced as the No. 1 left guard, in place of injured Gregory Christine (leg). … Freshman tackle Drew Schaefer is getting increased playing time on the left side (at tackle) this week, in addition to his more familiar right tackle spot, just in case the team wants to shift Ben Ossai inside. … Receiver Devin Aguilar left practice with a minor head injury, possibly a concussion. … Despite looking deathly ill, center Ryan Tolar practiced. … Just like he did Monday, cornerback Adam Long took the majority of the snaps at cornerback opposite Desmond Trufant on the first-string defense – ahead of Quinton Richardson. … Receiver D'Andre Goodwin (concussion), safety Nate Williams (concussion) and running back Johri Fogerson (flu) were all full participants, and all should get significant time Saturday.