Joe Tessitore

Whether or not you have strong feelings about Ashton Kutcher movies, this quote from the beginning of The Butterfly Effect has always intrigued me:

“It has been said that something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world.” – Chaos Theory

Said another way, a seemingly insignificant action can have a profound, unexpected impact on the larger system.

Chaos Theory might seem a tad cerebral for an article about college football, but stick with me here. What if you could change one minor variable and completely alter the outcome of a game? Like, what if the mere presence of a certain announcer could actually take a run-of-the-mill matchup and turn it into a three overtime affair featuring blocked kicks, overtimes, and massive controversy.

You know, like practically every game Joe Tessitore has called.

When it comes to college football, there’s no one quite like Tessitore. The profound impact he can have on a game defies all explanation. He is Chaos Theory personified.

I have proof.

First of all, the words “Tessitore” and “butterfly” have the same number of letters AND syllables. Coincidence? I think not. And don’t even get me started on the whole repeating consonants thing.

Second of all, look at the evidence. In the past two weeks alone, Tessitore has been a one-man wrecking ball in the college football landscape.

In Week 1, he called Notre Dame at Texas, a highly anticipated matchup. Texas had a 31-14 lead in the third quarter. Within 15 minutes, Notre Dame scored three unanswered touchdowns to take a 35-31 lead. Texas scored with 3:29 remaining, but Notre Dame blocked the extra point and subsequently ran it in for two points to tie the game. Two overtimes later, Texas won 50-47.

In Week 2, Tessitore called Arkansas at TCU. Deep in the fourth quarter, Arkansas scored a touchdown and a two-point conversion. TCU answered by driving into field goal range, however the kick was blocked, which sent the game to overtime. Unranked Arkansas ultimately beat 15th ranked TCU in two overtimes.

If you look back, you’ll find a path of destruction wherever Tessitore has been. Think back to 2010 when he called the game in which Nevada took out an undefeated Boise State team. Or in 2011 when Iowa State beat #2 ranked Oklahoma State. Straight chaos.

Recently SI’s Andy Staples researched the Tess effect and came up with some interesting data. Since 2012, despite having announced his fair share of  blowouts, the average margin of victory for Tessitore’s games bas been 10 points. During that same stretch, the average margin of victory for games called by Verne Lundquist has been 14 points. More compelling is the difference between the two announcer’s overtime games where Tessitore has done six games in that span compared to Lundquist’s four. But it’s not just the amount of games that have gone to overtime as Staples extrapolates.

“But none of those four overtime games has gone into a second overtime period. During the same span, Tessitore has called six overtime games and provided an average 2.3 overtime periods in each of those games.

Both games Tessitore has called this season have gone two overtimes and bent the mathematical rules of football, so this requires a new question: Is something amplifying the Tess Effect?”

As a diehard Stanford fan, I sure hope so as I was ecstatic to learn Tessitore would be the play-by-play announcer for tomorrow’s USC vs. Stanford game (between FS1, the Pac 12 Network, and late night kickoffs, we don’t exactly get the crème de la crème of announcers doing our games).

The fact that Stanford and USC are bitter rivals is well established. If history holds sway, these teams need no assistance in making this game a zany affair. In the past few years, we’ve had the Biggest Upset Ever, a triple overtime game, unexpected blowouts, controversy, and enough drama to fill two soap operas.

But you know what could make this year’s game even more bat-shit-crazy? Two words: Joe Tessitore.

I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if any of these things actually happened:

  1. The game will feature a record number of onside kicks and safeties.
  2. One quarterback will throw three first-half interceptions and three second-half touchdowns. The other quarterback will do the opposite.
  3. There will be two missed field golds. No. FOUR MISSED FIELD GOALS. I mean, Pac-12 kickers and all.
  4. Christian McCaffrey will rush for 200 yards, but he’ll do it while walking on his hands. Because, maybe that will be enough to win this guy a Heisman.
  5. The game will be so good that the refs will declare a fifth quarter, just to keep the party going.

The weird part is, none of these are out of the realm of possibility when Tessitore is on the call. Vegas has Stanford pegged as a 8.5 point favorite and while I’d be all for a less stressful two score margin of victory, I’m mentally prepared for the Tess Effect to shave off some years from my life expectancy and I’m oddly looking forward to it.

You can follow Jill on Twitter here and find more of her writing on Last Word On Sports


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