But back at Stanford it became apparent that, although the band would bear the brunt of the guilt for the calamity, many other factors surfaced to relieve us of the ultimate blame. A penalty flag had been thrown during the play, but it was against Stanford so the penalty was declined. Stanford's coaches contended that Cal didn't have the required number of players on the front line for the last play (it didn't, but the officials didn't see it); that one of the officials had whistled the play dead when the third ballcarrier's knee touched the ground; and that one of the five laterals had actually been a forward pass. More important to me personally was the revelation that many players from both benches, including some of the Stanford players who now accused the band of causing the loss, had also gone onto the field prematurely, thinking that the game was over.
Not only was the band eventually exonerated by most people, but The Play also turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to us. It brought exposure, publicity, fame and talk-show appearances to the bandsmen, especially to our famous, or infamous, tackled trombone player, Tyrrell. On network TV he received an apology from none other than Kevin Moen, as well as $500 from the show.
"Why didn't you tackle him?" band members were often asked. "Well, he was huge, for one thing," I heard one bandsman mumble. Six years later I can't help wondering how the sequence of events might have changed if we had actually tackled Moen. There were 200 of us. We could have taken him.