Judgment day

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

It's Higgins's Law. Sort of a variation on Murphy's Law.

"Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong," is Murphy's Law. Higgins's Law is more along the lines of "Whatever call I make will be the wrong call."

Maybe it's just that some people are born to be lucky and some aren't. And some people are born to get it right and some are born to get it wrong.

On Labour Day, Tom Higgins got it wrong. Danny Maciocia got it right.

The Labour Day run was set up to be a study of the two head coaches, and the Eskimos' 25-23 Labour Day win did nothing to change the storyline. Each coach was put in a position to make a call which would affect the game, calls which came with huge potential for second-guessing.

Higgins made the wrong call when Calgary was down by eight late. He told punter Burke Dales to attempt an out-of-bounds kick instead of going for a single to bring the Stampeders within a converted touchdown.

The result was Calgary had to go for a two-point convert to tie the game instead of the automatic one-pointer with 41 seconds left in the game.

The disorganization ("We didn't have the right personnel in the game - we didn't know what the @#$% we were doing," as Stampeders' Nik Lewis put it) which followed caused a time-count violation and moved Calgary from the five to the 10 for their two-point attempt, where Cedric Scott won the game chasing Henry Burris down in the backfield.

WRONG DECISION

Higgins's wrong decision and the situation it exposed most certainly will end his honeymoon as head coach in Calgary and quite probably will grease the skids for him to move into the GM's chair and give Dennis Creehan the head coaching job sooner rather than later.

But that was Higgins's call.

Maciocia had his own call to make.

It's early. The Eskimos have a 3-0 lead, which they would have made 10-0 had Rashad Jeanty held on to an interception he could have walked into the end zone.

The Eskimos have another chance to make it 10-0 and - for a team which has a killer instinct problem - you could really have questioned Maciocia about sending in Hayden Epstein to kick a nine-yard field goal instead of going for the touchdown on a third-and-goal situation from the two.

Especially with the not-getting-any-better offensive line and the running backs needing a boost in confidence.

Maciocia delivered the message he didn't trust either and told the world he has a football team which can't get two yards when he needs it and settled for the field goal.

But being that the Eskimos won - and won by two, it makes the call to go for three absolutely the right one at the end of the day.

And, Maciocia avoids ending up in a Tom Higgins-type jackpot between games in the Labour Day double header.

Maciocia, who knows he's going to be a study all season as fans try to get inside his head and figure out how he thinks the game, has no problem explaining his decision.

"First of all, it was early in the football game. We're on the road. Not only are we on the road, we're in a hostile environment.

"My philosophy is take all the points you can get. If you're not successful, if you get stuffed, in that environment that's a big momentum change and a clear shift. You could feel the effect if we'd gone for it and if they'd stopped us."

DELIVERED THE MESSAGE

But it delivered the message, again, that he still doesn't think he has a running game.

"Even if we did, I'm still taking the three points," said Maciocia.

"It's the CFL.

"Those points are going to be huge at the end of the game. All those points are going to count.

"That has to be your approach."

What about if he's in the same situation on Friday night coaching in friendly Commonwealth Stadium?

"I'd be more tempted to go for it.

"If you get stuffed in front of 50,000-60,000 of our own fans, you like our chances to stop them twice and have them punting from the endzone.

"At home if you don't make it you can live with it. But I'm still a big believer in you have to take the points.

"They all count.

"We won by two points. I'm sure damn glad I took those three points."

So it's an easier decision on the road than at home.

But he'd still make the same decision.

"Exactly."


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