Back in the early 1970's Dick Vermeil was the offensive coordinator at UCLA and while there he crafted a two point conversion chart aimed at helping offensive coordinators quickly decide what to do in crunch time situations followinga touchdown.
To this day, many offensive coordinators and head coaches carry a card with this information in their wallet, or on their game day play call sheet to guide their decision making. Here's a look at the contents of Vermeil's creation, courtesy of TheRedZone.org.
This brings me to the final few minutes of last night's game between Minnesota and Oregon State.
The Gophers scored a touchdown to put them ahead seven points (30-23) with just 1:27 left in regulation. Tracey Claeys was faced with a big decision at that moment. Kick the PAT and go up eight and hope for A) a stop on defense and / or B) a failed two-point conversion if the Beavers did happen to score OR he could go for two and make it a two possession game. The chances of Oregon State scoring twice are exponentially lower than stringing together a miracle last-minute drive AND getting the two-point conversion.
That last sentence had to be what was going through Claeys' mind as he sent the offense out for a two-point conversion in an effort to put his team up nine points., but it almost backfired in a big way.
This would have iced it for Minnesota. Still up 7. 1:27 to play pic.twitter.com/FeYiXlgQnt
— FootballScoop Staff (@FootballScoop) September 2, 2016
Instead of getting batted down, if that conversion attempt gets picked off and taken back the other way, Oregon State gets two points, AND THEN Minnesota kicks off to them, giving the Beavers a chance to effectively win the game with a touchdown.
Following the kickoff, the Gophers defense very quickly shut down Oregon State's final opportunity. After the game, Claeys was asked to elaborate on his decision to go for two, and he responded:
There's no clear cut right or wrong call here, and whatever way you slice it you have to weigh the pros and cons in a matter of seconds before making that call on the field, while taking in a variety of other factors into consideration like; the flow of the game, the plays you have in your two-point arsenal, how your defense has played and how many plays they've been on the field for already, etc.
Keeping Dick Vermeil's conversion chart handy can't hurt, but at the end of the day you've go with your gut, and you have to be prepared to back up that decision with an explanation.