Whether you love him or hate him, Richard Sherman grabbed all the headlines heading into Super Bowl XLVIII with his explosive post-game interview following Seattle’s 23-17 victory over San Francisco in the NFC Championship game.
It was unforgettable football drama, but here’s something you probably don’t remember about the self-proclaimed “best cornerback in the game”: He cost USC a national championship.
More specifically, as a wide receiver for the Stanford Cardinal in 2007, he caught the improbable pass that set up the winning score in one of the biggest upsets in college football history.
WARNING: Traumatic footage ahead.
That’s right. It was the sophomore Sherman who got by Terrell Thomas, withstood a crushing blow from Kevin Ellison and held on to convert fourth and 20 with just under two minutes remaining.
Forty-five seconds later, Stanford quarterback Tavita Pritchard found Mark Bradford in the corner of the endzone on another fourth down for the touchdown pass which put the unranked, 41-point underdog Cardinal up by one over the #2 team in the country.
The loss sent USC tumbling in the rankings and even though the Trojans recovered on route to a Rose Bowl victory and a #3 ranking to end the season, it kept them out of a potential championship match up versus Ohio State.
Sherman eventually switched to cornerback, where he continued to haunt the Trojans, logging a pick six during Stanford’s 2009 55-21 drubbing of USC in Pete Carroll’s final season.
Of course that didn’t stop Carroll from drafting the Stanford graduate in the fifth round of the 2011 draft, or perhaps it encouraged him to take a chance on the underrated corner who had proven his worth against the Trojans time and again.
Luckily for Carroll, Sherman was on his side against former Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh this time around and his game-changing play might just deliver a Super Bowl ring for the former USC coach to replace the BCS ring he might have won.