Today in Sports History: October 15th

10/15/1981 - Krazy George invents the Wave

If you are like me, you probably thought that the "Wave" was something that humans eventually stumbled on, like hitchhiking or bathing, and that it couldn't be invented. Well you'd be wrong, because "Krazy" George Harrison apparently started the Wave at an Oakland A's playoff game in 1981.

Krazy George, who often referred to himself as "the world's sexiest professional cheerleader," thought of the cheer and needed a capacity crowd to test it out. In Game 3 of the American League Championship Series between the A's and Yankees, George started the motion to the audience, who in turn completed the first ever Wave around the stadium. The cheer became a major staple of sporting events in the 1980's, and although the fad wore out by the 90's, and it can still be seen in the stands today (usually at a game where there isn't much excitement going on).

For years, Harrison had to compete with the University of Washington, who claimed that they had invented the Wave. It would take years and years, but upon realizing that George first maneuvered the cheer a few weeks before it was seen at the university, Washington finally relented and admitted that Krazy George was the inventor of the Wave. They did maintain though they were the school that made it popular.

10/15/2005 - Bush Push highlights USC win

Before Notre Dame dipped into mediocrity, it was always a huge deal whenever they played prominent universities, and as such, the hype was insane when major rivals USC and Notre Dame faced each other in October 2005. The #9 Fighting Irish, 4-1 under new coach Charlie Weis (the one loss being an overtime defeat to Michigan State) went up against #1 USC, who was riding a 27-game winning streak and two consecutive national titles on their back. As the Irish came out donning their seldom-worn green jerseys, nobody envisioned the expectations to be exceeded. As it turns out, both teams played one of the most thrilling games in college football history.

USC came out punching with a 14-7 advantage after one period, thanks to touchdowns from the halfback duo of LenDale White and Reggie Bush. Brady Quinn tied the game in the second stanza with a 32-yarder to wide receiver Jeff Samardzija (who would forgo the NFL draft for an MLB pitching career). All-American safety/punt returner Tom Zbikowski gave the Irish the lead on their next possession with a 60-yard punt return. (Incidentally, Zbikowski also turned down professional football to go into boxing.)

The tense game entered the 4th quarter tied at 21. Notre Dame kicker D.J. Fitzpatrick converted from 32 yards to give them the lead, yet missed a 34-yarder on the next drive that wound up being crucial. Bush completed a 9-yard run to make it 28-24 Trojans near the 5-minute mark. Bush’s three touchdowns and 252 all-purpose yards elevated his Heisman claims, though his best moment had to occur.

Brady Quinn responded to adversity following the USC score. Defying Notre Dame’s perception as a team that wilts against tough opponents, Quinn lead them on an 87-yard drive that ended with a 5-yard touchdown run from the QB himself.

USC got the ball back with 1:58 on the clock, facing a losing scenario for the first time in 28 games. Leinart and the Trojans seemed rattled by the Notre Dame defense. On 2nd and 10, Leinart was sacked by Trevor Laws ten yards behind the line of scrimmage. A 12-yard completion to Reggie Bush followed that put the Trojans in an impossible 4th down scenario.

Southern California was out of timeouts (having used two of them on the set) and was on 4th and 9 at their own 26 with 1:32 to go. That was when Matt Leinart, who specifically stayed another year to capture another chance at glory, stepped up and completed a remarkable 61-yard pass to Dwayne Jarrett that brought USC to the Irish 13. In one pass he erased a sure loss that might’ve kept them out of the title game.

But the Trojans still needed a final spectacular play to seal a victory. After a pair of Reggie Bush runs, USC was at the 2-yard line with 23 seconds left an no timeouts. Risking a run, Matt Leinart took it to the left flank where he dived for the pylon but was stopped short, losing the ball out of bounds in the process. As the clock ticked down to zero, the Fighting Irish celebrated and fans began to rush onto the field, only to find out it was not to be.

With the ball having gone out of bounds, the play was ruled dead with 7 seconds to go. On 2nd and goal from half a yard away, the Trojans passed on the opportunity to spike the football and go for the game-tying field goal. Instead, Leinart attempted a sneak that had him stuck for a split second as action rolled on. Bush came from behind and "used all 200 pounds of my body to push Matt in." The push gave USC the final blow and sealed the victory 31-28.

The play was a controversial one as it’s supposed to be a 15-yard penalty to push someone to forward progress. However, the play was never reviewed as USC coach Pete Carroll, having the option as the visiting coach, decided not to implement instant replay for the game. Weis did not begrudge the officials' ruling, though he did wish instant replay had been available. NCAA officials coordinator David Perry stated that USC was the only team he knew of to turn down instant replay. In that instance, it might have saved their hides.

USC went on to win out their remaining schedule and advanced to the championship game, where they lost to Texas in another classic. Reggie Bush went on to win the Heisman trophy, partly due to a massive performance against Fresno State near the end of the year. Despite the home loss to the Trojans, Notre Dame hardly fell in the standings and also won their remaining games to finish #6 overall. They too would lose in their bowl appearance: 34-20 to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.

Further reading:

USC-Notre Dame game is an ‘instant classic’

Photo Gallery: USC at ND 2005

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