Cheap Seats Football Retrospective: Part III, Philip Rivers

1999 NC State Football Helmet

LRM's view from Section 30 of Philip's Senior Day entrance into Carter-Finley

This is Part III of a five-part series that is by no means intended to be authoritative. Rather, it’s nothing more than an incomplete, inconclusive, sometimes erroneous, while always biased retrospective of recent State football history. Part of this was based on nothing more than my attempt to answer the question so many of us are left asking year after year: How did we get here?

Part I: The 90s
Part II: Chuck

Part III: 17
2000 HelmetI met Philip once.

True story: I was working part-time at Addam’s Bookstore during the spring 2001 buyback period when one afternoon he came in to sell back his Spanish textbook, Arriba! But the publishing company had issued a new volume, rendering his obsolete, so I had to break the bad news to him that I couldn’t buy it back.

“Aw, shucks,” he cursed with that Alabama drawl. “You serious?” he asked with a look the same as a kid looks at a trusted adult that has let them down.

As he left Addam’s, I’m convinced he carried with him a valuable lesson about life: it’s tough, and sometimes you’ll be stuck with a Spanish textbook that no one wants.

If I had to sum up Philip’s college career in a single sentence, it would be this: He deserved better.

I’ve never heard an even remotely convincing argument as to why Philip Rivers finished seventh in the 2003 Heisman Trophy voting, or how three quarterbacks – Jason White, Eli Manning, and Matt Leinart – finished ahead of him. He wasn’t even invited to New York City for the pomp – more like pompous – and circumstance of the official ceremony.

Yet, in 13 games his senior season of 2003, Philip had the NCAA’s best passer rating (170.5) and completed 72% of his passes for 4,491 yards, 34 touchdowns, with a paltry seven interceptions. His near-perfect performances in two losses that season – at Ohio State and at Florida State – underscores just how difficult a task it was, even for him, to win games with a defense that offered no help.

On September 13, 2003, State went to Columbus to face the reigning national champions at the Horseshoe. Philip completed 36-of-52 passes for 315 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions (one of which, replays clearly showed, was actually trapped against the turf rather than being an interception). Early gaffes on defense — Michael Jenkins slipped loose for a 44-yard touchdown reception on the opening drive — and special teams — on the ensuing kickoff, Richard Washington stumbled into Tramain Hall, who misplayed the ball off his helmet; Ohio State recovered and scored three plays later — put State in a 14-0 hole before the offense even took the field. With just under eight minutes remaining in the game, State trailed 24-7 — the lone touchdown had been on the final drive of the first half, where Philip was six-for-six after connecting on an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jerricho Cotchery.

With the game locked up, Philip took over and coolly guided the most improbable of his many comebacks that had by then long since become his signature. He connected with Cotchery on a nine-yard touchdown, and then after an A.J. Davis interception and an Adam Kiker field goal, he hit T.J. Williams on a five-yard strike to tie the game at 24 with 0:21 left in regulation. In the first overtime, Philip connected on a 17-yard score to Tramain Hall; but after trading touchdowns in the second overtime, Ohio State scored first in the third overtime, and then A.J. Hawk and Will Allen brought down T.A. just short of the goal line on fourth down to preserve the Buckeyes victory.

Although State returned to Raleigh on the short end of a 44-38 three-overtime loss, Philip left no naysayers regarding his dominance.

Later that season, on November 15, State went to Tallahassee tied for first with an outside shot at the ACC championship and subsequent BCS berth. Philip completed 28-of-38 passes for 422 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions, and rushed for another touchdown in a heart-wrenching 50-44 double-overtime loss to the Seminoles. It will always be remembered as a game State quite literally fumbled away — two after the catch, by Brian Clark and T.J. Williams, and one, as always, by T.A. McLendon inside our own 10 right before the half; each led to Florida State scores. In that loss, Philip completed 74% of his passes for a mesmerizing average of 15.1 yards per completion, without a single miscue.

But Philip’s greatest performance stat-wise was his last in red and white. In the 2003 Tangerine Bowl, he completed 37-of-45 passes for a career-high 475 yards, with five touchdowns and, again, no interceptions, in a 56-26 thrashing of Kansas. Arguably, his stats that night were inflated because of the gross mismatch, but the sheer magnitude of his performance that night was an impervious slap in the face to all the writers, pundits and Heisman voters who disqualified him because, unfortunately, he had neither White’s #1 ranking nor Manning’s pedigree.

The latter is actually the best explanation I can offer for Philip’s exclusion from the Heisman conversation (beyond the five losses): he wasn’t the media darling he needed to be to ever have a realistic shot. An example: In 2006 I worked quite often in western Tennessee and a co-worker there was an Ole Miss alum and he was as proud of Eli as we are of Philip, so we developed an ongoing debate as to why our guy was better. I went with him to Oxford in 2006 to see the game against Georgia — every college football fan should tailgate in The Grove at least once — and on the drive down, he began to rant about how Eli should have won the Heisman, which opened up the perfect opportunity for me to needle him into a numbers game about the topic. While he wouldn’t quite concede, it was no small victory to hear him utter the words, “Wow, I had no idea Rivers put up those kind of numbers — that’s amazing.”

Apparently not amazing enough, as Oklahoma’s White won the 2003 Heisman Trophy, and Manning and Leinart finished ahead of Philip in the voting despite each being statistically inferior overall to him. Among the group, Philip was the highest rated passer, had the most completions, yards, yards per attempt, completions per game, fewest interceptions, and the best touchdown-to-interception ratio. But, college football’s most prestigious award is given each year to the “Most Outstanding College Football Player” that plays for one of the nation’s premier teams, not the guy that has to put up monsterous numbers each week to even have any shot at winning. Of the Heisman finalists, White’s Oklahoma lost to BCS National Champion LSU in the Sugar Bowl; Manning led Ole Miss to a 10-3 record and an eventual victory over Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl; Chris Perry’s Michigan lost to AP National Champion Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl; meanwhile, Pittsburgh lost four regular-season games, but Larry Fitzgerald was by far the nation’s most prolific receiver, and arguably the most outstanding player among the group.

But I digress.

Statistically, Philip’s status as the ACC’s greatest quarterback is indisputable. He ranks first in total starts (51), passing yards (13,484), total offense (13,582), touchdown passes (95), completions (1,087), touchdowns in a season (34), 300-yard passing games (18), 400-yard passing games (7), total touchdowns (112), and total plays (1,963). He was the ACC’s 2000 Rookie of the Year and then 2003 Player of the Year, and was a four-time bowl MVP (2000 MicronPC, 2003 Gator, 2003 Tangerine, 2004 Senior Bowl; and offensive MVP of the 2001 Tangerine Bowl in a loss to Pittsburgh).

In 2000, Philip had replaced the venerable Jamie Barnette. As time expired in his first game against Arkansas State, he calmly converted two different fourth downs to tie the game, and then manufactured two touchdown drives in overtime to secure the 38-31 victory. The following week, in his first road game, he engineered an even more unlikely comeback at Indiana; he threw touchdown passes of 26 and 47 yards in the final 4:29 to steal a 41-38 victory. Then a few weeks later, on the Thursday night ESPN game against Georgia Tech, State was all but dead in the water at halftime, down 13-0 and utterly listless on offense. But there was Philip, once again, in the second half and then overtime, in his element: he audibled at the line and then hit Koren Robinson on a 23-yard fade for the game-winning touchdown. Nothing was coming easy for the freshman, at least until mid-October in Chapel Hill, where his legacy began in earnest after he led State — for the first time since 1992 — to a 38-20 victory over Carolina (he even opened up the scoring with the game’s first touchdown reception from Bryan Peterson).

After that, there was no stopping him. As a freshman in 2000, he led a young team that had no business playing in the postseason to the MicronPC Bowl where, after a 24-0 halftime deficit, he once again led State to an improbable come-from-behind 38-30 victory over Minnesota to end the season 8-4. In 2001, he became the first ACC quarterback to win in Tallahassee. In 2002, he guided State to its only 11-win season, highlighted by a 28-6 shellacking of Notre Dame in the 2003 Gator Bowl, where he was 23-of-37 for 228 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

In four seasons, Philip compiled a 34-17 record, surpassed nearly every significant ACC statistical passing category, and he ranks near the top of many NCAA passing categories. Most notably, he left State as the NCAA’s second all-time passer, behind Ty Detmer — although Philip currently ranks fourth after Timmy Chang (in 2004) and then Colt Brennan (in 2007) passed him.

It begs us to wonder: What if Norm Chow – who, as a BYU assistant, had coached Robbie Bosco (1984 National Champion), Steve Young (1983 Davey O’Brien recipient, Super Bowl Champion, NFL Hall of Famer), and Ty Detmer (1990 & 1991 Davey O’Brien winner) – had stayed at State for Philip’s entire career? Would Philip have won two Heisman Trophies and then left for the NFL after the ACC Championship and possible National Championship in 2002?

Or what if Philip hadn’t enrolled early and impressed Amato during the spring, but instead Amato had gone with Toki McCray and redshirted Philip as a freshman in 2000, so that he wouldn’t have been the victim of hapless timing. Instead of that abysmal 2003 defense, as a senior in 2004 he would have had Mario, Manny and McCargo, and all the havoc they wreaked upon opposing quarterbacks’ attempts to get into the end zone, paving the way for his runaway Heisman campaign and ACC Championship (unfortunately we would have settled for beating Auburn in the Sugar Bowl but left out of the National Championship picture).

The ultimate What If: As a senior at Athens High School, Philip threw for 2,025 yards with 15 touchdowns and was named the 1999 Alabama Player of the Year. Nevertheless, neither Alabama nor Auburn was encouraged by his awkward throwing motion, but each was apparently willing to give him some reps at tight end. The sheer, miscreant audacity of the greatest college quarterback of my generation being the most dominant tight end to ever play in the Iron Bowl, had my beloved alma mater not had the foresight to bring him to Raleigh.

But destiny brought Philip to State, where he became the moral epicenter for a fan base — especially my generation — that desperately yearned to be apart of the embodiment of legendary, mythical greatness. Don’t believe me? Try to get a seat at the Ale House during a Chargers game.

My former boss from several years back was a 1974 State grad; sometimes he’d lean back in his chair with his hands clasped behind his head as a coy grin swept across his face, as if he was about to share with me a secret about Norm Sloan and David Thompson that only he knew. The stories were great, but I resented him a little bit for having been apart of something mythical. But after witnessing greatness 51 games over a four year span, now I understand. And I’m sure someday, when I’m watching Philip towards the end of his career, I’ll wax poetic with my buddies about the time that he passed to himself for the game-winning touchdown against Carolina — hey, if David Thompson can make change atop the backboard, Philip can pass to himself.

My baby sister’s best friend since college is somehow kinfolk of Amato. For my sister’s birthday her freshman year in 2003, her friend asked Amato to have Philip autograph a picture of himself – back turned, in the huddle (you can’t even see him, just the 17) – with a personal message to my sister, “From Philip.”

She shrieked, and she cried – a lot, in fact. It was the greatest gift ever, you just don’t understand.

For about a year after that, she took that framed picture with her wherever she went. When she went home for Thanksgiving or Christmas, when she went to the beach, she took it with her. Now that might seem weird to a lot of people.

But not to a State fan.

About LRM

Charter member of the Lunatic Fringe and a fan, loyal to a fault.

Fans Flashback NCS Football

45 Responses to Cheap Seats Football Retrospective: Part III, Philip Rivers

  1. wolfonthehill 07/31/2009 at 6:38 AM #

    Great post, LRM.

    Philip deserved far better on multiple fronts. He deserved to have fate somehow work out so that we had a defense in 2003. He deserved to have a legitimate shot at the Heisman… which he honestly could’ve had if State had any concept whatsoever about what “sports marketing” is. (Remember the Joey Harrington PR blitz that Oregon launched? Didn’t work, but came close)

    LRM Note: Good point. Joey Harrington was a household name because of that campaign.

    But in the end, he’s simply a hero to any Pack football fan in the early 00′s. No other way to put it. He’s a hero.

  2. Broccoman 07/31/2009 at 6:44 AM #

    Philip was awesome, but if RW keeps going the way he is, and stays around for 4 years- we could have a debate over who is better.

    I just hope PR gets that Superbowl he deserves.

  3. Wulfpack 07/31/2009 at 7:45 AM #

    I recently read where TOB will be playing Glennon a few drives this year to give him some much needed experience for next year. Apparently, TOB doesn’t think RW is going to be around after this year, FWIW.

    It would be great to see PR get a Superbowl. They ought to post big numbers this year playing in a division with lowly Oakland, KC, and Denver. But of course, it’s all about what yiu can do in the playoffs. If the Chargers can get the #1 or #2 seed, maybe they can avoid a cold weather game at Pittsburgh or New England and get over the hump.

  4. TOBtime 07/31/2009 at 7:58 AM #

    You know PR had to cringe every time he handed the ball to T.A. How many games during PR’s career were losses that could easily have gone the other way without a STUPID TA fumble? Lemme see, the mentioned FL St game and the MD game that kept us out of the Gator Bowl in PR’s senior year come to mind as both were huge national implication games.
    No way no how does Manning stack up with PR. And Jason White? Does anyone even remember the guy? Or why? PR was by FAR the best player his senior year.
    I work with some folks in Ohio. They are still in AWE of what PR did in the Horseshoe. They gave the Pack and PR a standing ovation as they walked off the field that day.
    PR will get a Super Bowl ring. It may take as long as Elway but he’ll get one.

  5. pooh 07/31/2009 at 8:06 AM #

    chillbumps the entire read… loved those years

  6. BJD95 07/31/2009 at 8:20 AM #

    The Heisman snub was partially due to our overall record, and partially due to our complete and total failure to promote him (which we should have done for his junior season, too). Although I can’t remember if I blogged about it at the time, Pitt’s Larry Fitzgerald would have gotten my Heisman vote in 2003. The stuff he did his last year at Pitt was video game level ridiculous.

    I wish I could remember more supporting details, but I know that I was convinced at the time that PR’s junior season was better than his senior campaign (and not just because of the W/L record). I’m sure the raw numbers are better as a senior because we were in so many shootouts, but I wonder about the secondary stats (especially YPA).

    Man, was I ever mad watching that Ohio State game. As you noted, Rivers had brought us completely back from the dead. And we end the 3rd overtime on THREE STRAIGHT (it might have even been four) RUNNING PLAYS, against an extremely solid front seven. Madness, it was. You must always play to your strengths, no matter what “the book” says.

    LRM Note: If memory serves me correctly, on that final series in 3OT, we sandwiched an incompletion between two QB sneaks and then the handoff to T.A. I think the incompletion was a hurried pass towards T.A. in the flats that was a tad underthrown, and he probably would’ve been dropped for a loss anyway. I still feel like that second sneak should’ve been another pass to the flats, because we’d been racking up small chunks of yards on it all day. The thing that bothered me most on that final series was that we went conservative when we should’ve stayed aggressive, and I always blamed Chuck for that, because after that Maryland game in ’01 (where they clinched the Orange Bowl) he swore we’d never play not to lose again.

    That Kansas bowl game was ridiculous. The Jayhawks’ DBs were high school caliber. Rivers was hitting guys deep that were a good 20-30 yards from the nearest defender. On one throw, it was like our receiver was waiting to field a punt the ball held up so long – and he still basically walked in for the score.

  7. Daily Update 07/31/2009 at 8:56 AM #

    As far as the Ohio St game, I almost left the stadium in the 4th quarter. We got stopped on 3rd down and Amato sent the punting team on the field. I couldn’t believe we weren’t going for it. We were down three scores or whatever it was, so I said to to my buddy, “If Chuck is going to give up, then I am giving up too. Let’s get out of here!”

    Then OSU fumbled the punt, we recovered, and the comeback was started.

    For me, the two most memorable performances by Philip were his 1st game and his last game. The 1st because of the rain, the fact that we were about to lose at home to Ark. St., and that Rivers led us to an incredible comeback. And the last because it was simply the best performance of his career. The throws he was making against Kansas were simply amazing.

  8. johnboyNCSU 07/31/2009 at 9:04 AM #

    My buddies and I traveled to both the Ohio State and Florida State games in 2003. Those were some of the most gut-wrenching losses I’ve ever seen in person.

    Many of the Ohio State fans we talked to said they had never heard an opposing crowd as vocal as we were that day. You just couldn’t help but watch Rivers energetic nature on the sidelines and throw everything you had into cheering him on.

    It was amusing after the whole Cutler incident and the media was shocked Rivers would trash talk since he was such a nice person off the field. But all the State fans out there know he would talk trash all game long… I particularly remember one of his last touchdowns in that Kansas game and he proceeded to run along the Kansas sideline pumping his fists and just completely rubbing it in their face. Great end to a great college career. :)

  9. Noah 07/31/2009 at 9:27 AM #

    The first time I saw Rivers was at the open-practice that Amato held when he first got hired. We sat on the stands opposite the pressbox and the cheerleaders gave away bagged lunches of a roast beef sammich and some chips. It was really neat and I wish they’d have that kind of event every year.

    I sat with some friends and we were watching Rivers throw. We had heard that he was incredibly accurate, had average arm strength and had the funkiest throwing motion you ever saw.

    On one play, Koren Robinson broke free and sprinted deep on a fly pattern. Rivers let it go VERY early and we all said, “That’s never going to get there.”

    Robinson never broke stride and the ball kept going…and going and going….and just floated into his hands right at the back of the endzone.

    We all looked at one another. That was impressive.

    A few weeks later, we had our spring game and EVERYONE showed up. But Rivers didn’t play because had broken his finger. The difference between Rivers and J. Sanders and T. McCray was startling. McCray couldn’t even take a snap from center. He had to stand in the shotgun. During one series, Norm Chow was behind him and after fumbling the first two snaps and then getting sacked on the third, Chow just looked at his shoes and shook his head. (note — looking back on it, it would have been nice to have shouted some encouraging words to Chow…like, “Just wait until you have to try to teach Vince Young how to call cadence!”) Chow stepped up and put his arm around McCray and ushered him off the field.

    The plays I remember from Rivers’ first year were the trick plays against Carolina and the first TD pass against Ga. Tech. Our line was HORRIBLE that year. On one play, Tech blitzed everyone and NO ONE managed to make their blocks. Rivers was surrounded by about seven guys in half a second. Luckily, KRob read the blitz, broke off his route and cut across the field just beyond the original LOS. Rivers, as he was about to get drilled, just flipped it to him and Robinson had no one in front of him. Easy TD.

    There are good players and there are special players. Rivers was special. I didn’t see DT, but I did see Rodney Monroe. The special ones make plays that just leave you laughing (no matter who you are playing for) and shaking your head. How the hell did he do that?

    Special players are transcendant.

  10. JasonP 07/31/2009 at 9:39 AM #

    I remember looking forward to being at the ’03 OSU game right after the schedule had been released, mostly to see two of the best RB’s in the country go at it on the same field. Unfortunately, Clarett did his thing and of course wasn’t there.

    Although there’s a lot of people at those OSU games, I can’t say I was too impressed with the tailgating. It’s a little TOO organized if you ask me (and that stupid O-H-I-O cheer is the equivalent of the MSU cowbells). But that’s a fun place to watch a game, particularly when you’ve got the defending nat’l champs on the ropes in the 4th…they just had no answer all game for the Rivers to TA swing pass. And why that play was not called in the final OT in place of JUST ONE of those Rivers draw plays will always mystify me. If TA could have been stopped on the 1 yd line on the first play of that series, State just might have come out of the ‘shoe victorious. Those Buckeye fans who had no idea about Rivers before the game certainly knew about him afterward and would have gladly given Krenzel and half their offense to have him.

  11. ppack3 07/31/2009 at 9:46 AM #

    The OSU game was the best game I have ever seen in person, bar none and hands down. From the pomp and circumstance of their band playing our fight song, to the rabid cheering of the Pack fans (which drowned out the Buckeye faithfull at times), to the standing ovation for our players, by everybody in the Horseshoe. I was sorely dissappointed in the loss, but I have never been more proud of our football team. There were sickening elements, but still an experience that I will always remember with fondness.
    Rivers was a victim of circumstance, and he did deserve better. He didn’t deserve to have a running back that had hands of jello, or to have to learn (with the rest of the team) a new offense every year. As one poster has said, he didn’t get a lot of help from his defense, especially as a senior. But the thing that people rarely mention is the fact that, for four years, we had NO offensive line. Philip rarely ran the play that was called from the sidelines, and had to resort to 2-3 shifts and motion just to buy time to take a 3-step drop! In order to throw it deep he often had to resort to play action (or two) to buy that time.
    While all of the things that worked against him during his time at State kept him from winning championships, he still managed to secure his rightful place in History and create a mythology that is akin to that of David Thompson. He helped to put NCSU football on the map, and for that, I am thankful. I hope that he doesn’t hold the grudges that I have heard so much about, and that he starts attending some NCSU events in the future (when he isn’t chasing that SB trophy). Go Pack!

  12. Sam92 07/31/2009 at 9:50 AM #

    Philip Rivers did deserve better – but mainly what he deserved better that he didn’t get was a good head coach who could really build and coach a team around him. Philip Rivers made Amato look a whole lot better than he actually was. As for the heisman, Philip was great, but all heisman winners have one thing in common, they don’t just lead their teams, they lead their teams to victory, and five losses were just too many.

  13. charger17 07/31/2009 at 10:08 AM #

    Simply magical, that’s it. Everything about this guy makes you want to pull for him.

    I remember jumping up and down like a lunatic in my brother’s apartment when we tied the OSU game in ’03 – almost embarrasing. Great read, thanks! For many of the younger generation among us (Rivers and I are the same age), he is our DT!

  14. phillypacker 07/31/2009 at 10:17 AM #

    The only greater injustice than Rivers not being at least in the top 3 for the Heisman is the idiocy and deep light blue bias of voting Michael Jordan as best player in the history of the ACC basketball over David Thompson. Most of my UNC friends were quick to apologize after they heard about that.

  15. rtpack24 07/31/2009 at 10:22 AM #

    PR was a very special player. He should have been pumped for the Heisman his jr yr. However, with Annabelle in charge of our SID dept., it is not hard to figure out why he was not promoted his jr or sr yr. Amato stated after a Maryland loss that we would always play to win. Then a year later we play OSU with nothing to lose and everything to gain and we punt down 3 scores at mid field. Fortunately, they fumble and we get back into the game to have the worst play calling in the ot that I have seen since Ton Reed had left. We took TA out when he was hurt and Rivers tried to sneek twice. Could have left TA in and faked it to him. Sorry to ramble it still stings. No player in the ACC can lose 5 games and have a shot at the Heisman or with Annabelle V Myers as their SID. Let us hope in a few years everyone is writing about the unbelievable games of Russell Wilson! Amato also made a horrible decision to retire PR’s jersey BEFORE the Maryland game. Unbelievable.

  16. TheCOWDOG 07/31/2009 at 10:40 AM #

    I’m sorta jealous of some of you guys that were here to to witness 4 years of Rivers.

    Out in California there were precious few viewable games.

    There was one seminal game from 2002 that I did get to see over breakfast and bloody marys (perks of PST) with good friends. It’s a game I’ve not seen anyone refer to.

    It was the shoot out in Lubbock between Kingsbury and Rivers. Man, what a show (complete with the obligitory fumbles from an injured, go figure, TA)

    51-48 OT triumph over Texas Tech with field temps somewhere near 120 degrees. My Pac 10 and Big 10 buddies were floored by Phillip.

    LRM Note: Funny you mention that game. My good buddy had the gall to get married that day and until about a year ago when I saw one of those compressed replays of it on FoxSouth, I’d never seen so much as a highlight from that game. I was in the wedding and had arranged for another buddy (who had a small radio and earpiece in) to signal updates while we were ushering folks in (a simple touchdown with his index fingers). As the bride & groom walked out, the bride’s first question through the doors was “What’s the score?” As soon as we were announced at the reception, all of us groomsmen disappeared to the changing room to listen to the 4th quarter and OT on the radio, and suddenly we had a crowd of about 25 hovering around us. Can’t make that up.

    By 2003 we had resettled back here and because of Phillip my West Coast born family and I didn’t miss a single home game, and made each away game an event/party.

    Oh what might have been had TA discovered handles.

  17. the big takeover 07/31/2009 at 10:46 AM #

    I was lucky enough to have my time @ State overlap with PR. What a great time. Even luckier to play against him in intramural basketball. Such a nice dude, with a hell of an outside shot! Even showed up to watch our game during his team’s by week. On Valentine’s Day. When he was already married. Here’s to #17. Great retrospective series.

  18. whitefang 07/31/2009 at 11:20 AM #

    Great read bringing back great memories.
    Something that stands out in my mind: I remember watching a Saturday morning sports show during Rivers college career – maybe GameDay? Anyway they were doing a piece on Rivers and they were flashing defensive formations up on a screen. Rivers was calling plays against the shown defense as fast as they could flash the screen. It was freakin amazing. I knew right then, throwing motion be damned, he would make a heck of an NFL qb.
    Anybody else see that spot?

  19. bradleyb123 07/31/2009 at 12:19 PM #

    I know this is WAY off topic, but has anyone heard anything about Robert Crisp wavering on his commitment? Someone seems to think he’s not 100% on his commitment to the Wolfpack.

    http://www.goupstate.com/article/20090729/PSPORTS02/907299893/1088/sports?Title=Crisp-might-take-another-look-at-USC

    Just wondering if anyone is “in the know” on this.

  20. bradleyb123 07/31/2009 at 12:28 PM #

    This “Cheap Seats Football Retrospective” series is a very good read, btw. Thanks!

  21. tobaccordshow 07/31/2009 at 12:55 PM #

    Excellent post LRM. I was a freshman in 2001 and got to witness first hand from the student sections so many of Philip’s heroics. I am truly grateful for having been at NC State at the very peak of our football tradition to date (hopefully rewriting that in the next couple of years).

    My mother lived in Ohio during the 03 OSU game. She was in an accident and I left Raleigh to go to Columbus to see her in the hospital. I remember leaving Raleigh and being giddy (as much as I could under the circumstance) of all the Wolfpack flags heading northbound on 77.

    At the hospital in Columbus, all the chatter was this game. The Buckeyes knew they were up against a fight. They learned first hand just how well the Wolfpack traveled.

    That game was incredible. The 2 QB sneaks is still completely shocks me. I wouldn’t even call 2 QB sneaks in NCAA 2010 and the QB sneak works there better than real life. I don’t know who made the call for the second (some say it was Philip himself but I’ve never gotten a first hand story) but that cost us the game. The final play in 3OT wasn’t a handoff to TA as I recall, it was a short backfield toss, which worked very well… just inches short. Not only was that perhaps one of the greatest games in NC State history, but perhaps Buckeye history as well as we were the first to send Ohio State to a third overtime at the shoe.

    On TAs fumbleitis: “Lemme see, the mentioned FL St game and the MD game that kept us out of the Gator Bowl in PR’s senior year come to mind as both were huge national implication games.”

    I remember that fumble vs. MD. Of all the things to blame TA for, that was not one of them. He was completely lit up. As I recall his head hit the ground well before the rest of his body. TA is a mixed bag for me. He was AWESOME his freshman year. THen after breaking his arm, he strictly carried with the other and everybody and their brother knew how to strip a ball from TA. Without that injury, perhaps TA and Philip would be co-heroes of that era. TA certainly had the talent to be as great.

  22. johnwolfpack2003 07/31/2009 at 12:56 PM #

    Excellent post! Graduating in ’03 I definitely have fond memories of PR. He was and still isthe man. I wish we could get more Chargers games in the triangle area. Anywho, I distinctly remember the highs and the lows of his career. The lows are the heartbrakers like the osu game and in particular (this one really hurt) the loss on senior night to Md. We had the lead but we needed one more score to seal it with about 3 min to go and CTC decides to run it up the middle 3 plays in a row. They retire his jersey, his last home game, and we have to lose like that ARGGHH

  23. James 07/31/2009 at 1:16 PM #

    Great post.

    Another what if to consider. Our win over Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl in 2003 helped dull the pain of the end of the regular season.

    Recall our game, at home against Georgia Tech. We went into that contest 8-0 after thrashing Clemson in Death Valley 38-6 in Death Valley.

    If memory serves, we were leading Tech in either the later 3rd or early 4th quarter. We had them pinned deep in their own territory. It was 3rd and 20 or so. We blitzed and got their QB to throw an incomplete pass. Punting time, right? Nope. Flag on the play for delay of game so Tech gets another play. Of course, they get a first down on the next play and march all the way down the field for a TD. Completely changes the game and Tech wins.

    I’ve often thought about what could have happened if we stopped them there. The next week we went to Maryland and lost in the final seconds and then didn’t show against UVA in Charlottesville. We went from 8-0 and a top 10 ranking to 8-3 before beating FSU at home to close out the season. So close to making a huge splash on the national scene yet so far away.

    I’ve heard many people make the point that the Georgia Tech loss was the turning point in Amato’s career at State.

  24. peteavio 07/31/2009 at 1:18 PM #

    Towards his Junior year, i’d go into every game expecting basketball like scores, no matter what the opponent. 40-50 a game! How i wished for a defense in those days.

    One of my favorite memories from that era is also tied to the OSU game. I was living in overpriced, brand new yuppie apartments back then. High end finishes, paper thin walls. I was watching the game with my now ex wife.

    Shortly after the game ends, the police knock on my door. Apparently the two of us were making such a racket though the overtimes, with such elaborate strains of 4 letter words, that my neighbors called the cops to investigate domestic abuse.

    Cops talked to both of us, we reassured them that everything was fine. When i explained to them that my alma matter had just taken the defending national champion to four overtimes, about Philip, the fumbles, etc….they got it.

  25. TOBtime 07/31/2009 at 1:43 PM #

    Tobaccordshow, I agree with you to a certain extent. All we had to do was run out the clock against MD and back to the Gator Bowl we go. However, a boneheaded OC put the ball in TA’s hands. Now keep in mind, this is just after he he got a first down and did some grandstanding AFTER RUNNING OUT OF BOUNDS.

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