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Jake Olson got into the game for USC thanks to a major assist from WMU

Here’s the backstory behind Week 1’s best moment.

NCAA Football: Western Michigan at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

jThis was the coolest moment of the first full college football Saturday of 2017:

USC long snapper Jake Olson, who’s legally blind, got into the No. 4 Trojans’ game against Western Michigan. With the Trojans up in the fourth quarter, Olson launched a clean snap to set up an extra point. Olson was emotionally moved, and so was anyone who watched. The entire thing was awesome, all the way around.

Kudos to Western Michigan, which helped to make it all possible.

USA Today’s George Schroeder has a fascinating note about the process that led to Olson getting into the game. It starts with an email exchange last week between USC coach Clay Helton and his WMU counterpart, Tim Lester. Via Schroeder:

... when Helton outlined his idea — he wanted to get Jake Olson, who is blind, into the game to snap for an extra point — Lester was all for it.

That wasn’t all. When Lester agreed, Helton told him, “OK, here’s my email address.” Before allowing Olson to play, USC’s doctors needed to know Lester was on board with the plan.

“I give him all the credit,” Lester said. “That’s not an easy conversation. He was just being honest about a player he really cared for. He said he was gonna call every coach and just hope he gets it done. … He was just very nice in asking and he said he understood if I didn’t want to do it. He wasn’t forcing it down my throat, by any means.

“I didn’t think it was a hard decision at all. It was bigger than the game. I was happy to be a part of it.”

WMU was cool with Olson coming into the game, but for Olson to be medically cleared, certain conditions had to be met. Major college football isn’t a place where teams go easy on each other, so the coaches had to hash out an agreement.

“It was a weird conversation to have,” Lester said, “but when you’re having this weird conversation for a good reason? We were talking about what’s out of hand, what’s not out of hand, but it was for a good purpose, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a young man.”

As part of the deal, when Western Michigan scored its first touchdown, USC didn’t rush the extra point.

“Our first PAT was on air, basically,” Lester said. “And if the situation ever arose, he was gonna call timeout and look over at me. The officials were in on it. Then I could bring our guys over and explain what was going on.”

An appropriate situation eventually arose. WMU stuck with USC almost all afternoon, but the result was decided when USC went up 17 points — three scores — with about three minutes left on the clock. That’s “out of hand” per anyone’s definition of the term, and it was a good time for Olson to get his shot on a PAT.

It’s great that Helton wanted to get Olson a chance, great that Lester was willing to help out, and great that the right game scenario came about to make it work.