The Infamous ‘Cleat Yeet’ That Cost Florida A Spot In The CFP Deserves Another Look

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The (technically) amateur nature of college sports means players are slightly more susceptible to making some inexplicable decisions over the course of a game. However, there aren’t many in recent memory that have managed to leave people speechless like the move Florida Gators cornerback Marco Wilson pulled during a game against LSU in 2020.

2020 was a strange year for college football thanks to the pandemic protocols that impacted teams around the country, and the combination of condensed schedules and frequent cancelations stemming from outbreaks made the job of determining which teams would compete in the College Football Playoff easier said than done.

With that said, Florida’s hopes were still alive when they hosted LSU for their tenth game of the season (which also marked the team’s last regular season contest ahead of the SEC Championship).

The Gators had opened the year at No. 5, and while they did suffer a bit of a setback with a loss to Texas A&M in the middle of October, they still boasted an 8-1 record and were ranked sixth when they faced off against a Tigers squad that had gone 3-5 up to that point.

A win would’ve allowed Florida to firm up its case to compete in the CFP, and while there’s no way to know how things would’ve panned out if they’d walked away with the victory, those hopes were essentially dashed by a baffling decision that immediately went down in infamy.

Marco Wilson’s “Cleat Yeet” dashed Florida’s hope of playing in the College Football Playoff

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The Gators were heavy favorites to earn the win against LSU on December 12, 2020, but the Tigers managed to put up quite the fight in a back-in-forth contest where they led for most of the first half before Florida managed to swing the momentum back in its favor.

The two sides were tied at 34 points apiece with around two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, and it looked like Florida was going to get the chance to drive down the field with multiple timeouts remaining after the Tigers failed to convert on a 3rd and 10 from their own 25-yard line.

However, that didn’t end up being the case.

LSU tight end Kole Taylor end had hauled in a short pass from Max Johnson on the play in question before being tackled by the tandem of Wilson and Tre’Vez Johnson. Wilson found Taylor’s left cleat in his hand after he helped make the stop, and he decided to celebrate by hurling the shoe more than 20 yards down the field.

A nearby official wasted no time getting in on the action by hurling a penalty flag, and the 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty Wilson was hit with gave LSU a fresh set of downs and possession on their own 44-yard line.

From there, the Tigers slowly advanced down the field while milking the clock, and the Gators were unable to answer after LSU took a 37-34 lead with the 57-yard field goal that split the uprights with 23 seconds remaining in the game.

The loss meant Florida’s playoff (and, in turn, national championship) hopes had been virtually extinguished thanks to what was quickly dubbed the “Cleat Yeet.”

The following week, they lost to Alabama by a score of 52-46 in the SEC Championship, and while it seems like there’s a chance they would’ve missed the CFP with a loss in that contest regardless of how the game with LSU had played out, it’s still a “What If?” that will probably continue to haunt Gators fans until the team is able to get some postseason redemption.

Wilson certainly hasn’t done himself any favors when it comes to getting back into the good graces of fans, as the man who now plays for the Cardinals stated his only regret is that he didn’t throw the shoe even farther.