The play was just as dramatic, and Crowe called the shot.
Serving as in-game analyst for Rivals.com’s Auburn second-screen experience, the former Auburn assistant and Jacksonville State head coach postulated during the time out Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall was going to look for a receiver he absolutely trusted on the fourth-and-18 play.
Crowe saw the formation and, when told by host Rob Pate it was Louis in the slot, said “that’s who it’s going to be.”
Moment later, Marshall’s desperation pass was bouncing off two Georgia defenders and into Louis’ hands for the game-winning touchdown that instantly elevated next week’s Iron Bowl into an iron-clad classic.
The overflow crowd in their broadcast location across from the stadium went nuts. Pate, who sat stoically through the final minutes of what seemed a sure loss, erupted from his seat and disappeared into the bedlam, leaving Crowe to fend off the celebrating crowd on his own.
The two-minute clip of the call and its aftermath has generated more than 40,000 hits across various websites.
Crowe described the scene as “pandemonium.”
“It was just a pure switch of emotion because getting to that moment there was a state of depression coming over people,” he said.
Crowe said he didn’t have any special premonition about making the call; 40 years in coaching — the previous 13 as JSU’s head coach — just gave him the insight to read the action setting up on the screen.
“It was Football 101,” he said Wednesday after speaking to a group of local contractors at Anniston Country Club. “I’m watching the game. Based on where he was aligned and what the pre-snap movement was, that’s just a common offensive tactic to put that guy in that position.
“It would be the way I would have been thinking if I were standing on the sideline being responsible for that game. And I would have hoped that I’d programmed the quarterback that way. (Marshall) was fearless what he did.”
Crowe put the play in the category of the 1982 Stanford band play or the Florida State “punt-rooskie” he was eyewitness to in 1988 as a Clemson assistant.
“It couldn’t be replicated in a hundred years,” he said. “I was just glad to be part of the moment.”
Now the Tigers and their fans can revel in it for two weeks before playing the rivalry Crowe called “the greatest game in America.” He said he has been in other big rivalries before and had that debate with coaches the likes of Bo Schembechler and Pete Carroll and he’s staunchly defended his ground.
He called this year’s Iron Bowl a game between “the best designed college football program in the history of the game (Alabama)” and “a team of destiny (Auburn).”
“I can tell you from having coached in the game, destiny plays a major role in how this game turns out,” Crowe said, adjusting the knot in his blue-and-orange Auburn tie. “No matter how powerful your organization is, it’s 11 against 11 and what’s in their hearts and minds. That’s psychology and I think this game is almost totally about psychology.”
He said he expected Auburn to be a double-digit underdog, but the game to be a one-possession affair determined by “circumstances.”
His gut feeling is Auburn will win.
“But I wouldn’t no more place a bet on my gut feeling than anything,” he said. “I am just a person who believes in the emotions of the game above everything else.”
Al Muskewitz covers Jacksonville State sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.