Work in Sports
'Circle of Death' does in Colorado kicker Aldrich
Posted: Saturday November 27, 1999 08:03 AM
By Jon A. Dolezar, CNN/SI
BOULDER, Colo. -- By all accounts, Nebraska kicker Josh Brown is a nice fellow. Probably kind to animals, polite to his elders and quick with a kind word to a friend who's down in the dumps.
Just don't let him be in the area code when you're an opponent who's trying to defeat Brown's Nebraska Cornhuskers with a game-winning, heart-breaking field goal, a position in which Colorado's Jeremy Aldrich found himself Saturday afternoon.
"Being a kicker I have to feel for Jeremy," Brown said. "You can't treat it like an ordinary kick, because really it isn't. That kick probably swung the momentum in our favor and gave us the opportunity to win. Our kickers did a ritual that we call "The Circle of Death" on the sidelines to jinx him, and I guess it worked."Did it ever.
With Colorado poised to shock the third-ranked Cornhuskers, Aldrich faced a 34-yard field goal attempt with one slim second remaining on the clock. A breeze blew from right-to-left as the slight senior lined up his attempt. The game was tied 27-27.
This practically was a no-brainer. Aldrich had been fairly reliable all season long, hitting 13-of-20 field goals overall, including 10-of-15 of 30 yards or longer. The final play of the game would be his final kick in his final home game. The crowd held its collective breath.
Colorado let the clock run down until only one second remained before taking a timeout. Nebraska followed suit, attempting to ice Aldrich using a timeout of its own.
The snap from Brody Heffner-Liddiard was a bit high, but holder Nick Pietsch did a nice job placing the ball into position. Aldrich lunged into the ball -- and sent it sailing wide right.
"I didn't know all the way, but I knew that it wasn't kicked right through the middle of the uprights," Nebraska head coach Frank Solich said. "I thought it had the chance to not go through. To be honest with you, I wasn't looking at the ball as much as I was looking at their fans. I didn't see tremendous reaction from their fans."
"The wind gusted as he went out to kick it," Colorado head coach Gary Barnett said. "I haven't asked Jeremy, but I would guess that he tried to adjust, maybe hit it right so he could hook it in."
Afterward, Aldrich faced the music as best he could.
"What can I say?" Aldrich said. "I just didn't make it."
Barnett consoled Aldrich after the game, telling his kicker and the rest of the team that the game didn't turn on just the final kick in regulation.
"I told him not to take this one on his shoulders and not to take the blame," Barnett said. "I made sure he heard that and that everybody else heard that. That's the life of that position. The moment in time wasn't his."
Nebraska linebacker Tony Ortiz thinks that the timeout to ice Aldrich helped caused him to tighten up.
"We were just trying anything to make him miss," Ortiz said. "We tried to ice him with the timeout, and it just shows you how anything can happen in college football."
Especially when "The Circle of Death" is being orchestrated by Josh Brown and his brethren.