Not since Colorado’s Kordell Stewart engineered the “Miracle at Michigan” twenty-one years ago has a Michigan football team pulled defeat from the jaws of victory as it did on Saturday in their last second punt-snap fiasco 27-23 loss to Michigan State.
With less than 10 seconds on the clock, Wolverines fifth-year punter Blake O’Neill fumbled a snap and then spastically tried to kick it on the run only to deliver it into the arms of Michigan State’s Jalen Watts-Jackson, who caught it and scampered into the end zone for a game winning touchdown.
“It’s a tough way to lose a football game,” President Barack Obama told Jim Harbaugh on Monday. The Michigan coach reported of the meeting with the president: “[He] told the fellas to keep their chin up.”
President Obama met with Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh today, reported CBS Sports. Harbaugh is in Washington, D.C. to help promote the “Better Make Room” public awareness campaign to help teenagers enter and succeed in college. Harbaugh said he met with the President who gave him a pep talk how to endure these kind of losses.
Harbaugh relayed that the president told him that he “likes the way our team plays and he told the guys to keep it going.”
The devastating loss at the foot of the Australian kicker prompted a deluge of hate mail on social media aimed at the team and specifically O’Neil. ESPN reported that Michigan interim athletic director Jim Hackett on Sunday issued an official statement that Wolverines fans need to support O’Neill and their team after the heartbreaking loss.
“I’m asking that our community not lose this game twice by condoning thoughtless comments,” Hackett stated in a letter. “… Today I awake to the shocking reality that our community who care so much about this program would send hurtful, spiteful and vicious comments to one of our students. To be clear, such comments come from a small minority, none of whom are reflective of our institution.”
One of the 111,740 fans attending the game at The Big House in Ann Arbor had even a worse day than Blake O’Neill. Michigan news outlet mlive.com reported that a fan may have suffered a heart attack and was transported by an ambulance to the University of Michigan Hospital just after the final whistle and the ensuing frenzy that accompanied the shocking win. According to Diane Brown, a spokeswoman for the U-M Division of Public Safety, there are no updates on the person’s condition.