For some college football coaches and programs, a bold play means showing off your gigantic cojones by means of some wily trickeration. You know, like a clutch fourth down conversion via a fake punt on a game-winning drive. Or calling for a fake field goal in overtime. Or calling a bomb on fourth and short to save an undefeated season. Or the good ol' Fumblerooski. Or even whatever the hell it is that Les Miles likes to do at the end of games. And, you know, that's fine for those other teams, but that's not how we roll at Iowa*. No sir.
* Well, okay, that's pretty exactly how Hayden rolled, what with his always-endearing love of "exotics." But them days are gone.
My favorite bold play from the annals of Iowa football isn't a trick play, or some fancy-dan offensive gadget play with men in motion or reversals or non-quarterbacks throwing the ball. My favorite bold play isn't even a crushing hit from a blitzing defender or a momentum-changing interception. My favorite play didn't actually benefit Iowa in any of the ways we typically use to quantify good plays: Iowa didn't score any points off it or gain any yards. Hell, this play actually cost Iowa points. No, my favorite bold play is, of course, the eff-you safety from Iowa's unforgettable 6-4 win over Penn State in 2004.
(skip to 2:06 to see it in all its effing glory)
It's impossible to deny the boldness of the play. You rarely see football coaches flat-out concede points to the opposition without making them working for them at all -- but that's exactly what Ferentz did here, having David Bradley trot out of the back of the end zone and gift Penn State two points. You certainly never see football coaches concede points -- and possession -- to the other team when they only have a 6-2 lead and there's still 2:41 to play. Granted, there was some strategic logic behind the play; punting from the lip of their own end zone, Iowa would have been fortunate to get the ball past their own 40-yard line, which would have given Penn State excellent field position to start a potential game-winning drive (they started at their own 20-yard line after fielding the punt following the safety).
Still, logic be damned. Conceding a safety when you're up 6-2 means giving your opponent the opportunity to drive for a game-winning field goal (and turning yourself into a human piñata for every apoplectic fan or wise-cracking sports radio host from coast to coast). Unless, of course, you have the utmost faith in your defense to step up and stop the opposing team... and no faith at all in the opposing team's ability to do anything at all. In which case, sure, you'll concede the safety... because there's no damn way they'll be getting any more points against you. That, friends, is an eff you safety. And it is glorious and bold as all get-out.
Big ups to commenter ckmneon for a little help with this idea.