As can be expected, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly fielded plenty of questions about the final play in Saturday night's 34-31 overtime loss to Michigan State during his Sunday teleconference.
And for a coach who could be forgiven for expressing irritation at game officials, Kelly didn't bit.
"I just think they're excuses," Kelly said. "We had a chance to defend the play, we didn't defend the play. Regardless of what may or may not be the case. This is still about what happens on the field. We had our opportunity to defend the play, and we didn't. They did and they executed. That's why we are on the short end."
Irish fans likely feel the team came up on the short end because the Big East officiating crew missed a call on the final play.
Michigan State kicker Dan Conroy lined up for a 46-yard field goal after Notre Dame linebacker Darius Fleming's sack put the Spartans at the 29-yard line.
But instead of going for the tie and a second overtime period, Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio called a play he said is named, "Little Giants."
Holder Aaron Bates picked up the snap and after a Notre Dame defender fell, Bates hit tight end Charlie Gantt in stride for the game winner.
In a statement from the Big East, Terry McAulay – the conference's coordinator of football officiating, said the back judge is responsible for the call and that it was the right non-call. McAulay also said the play isn't reviewable.
Kelly said he hasn't spent a lot of time reviewing the play in regards to the play clock.
"We're splitting hairs on what happened at the end of the game," Kelly said. "Could there have been zero on (the play clock) before it was snapped? Yeah, there's that possibility. But I haven't spent much time thinking or complaining about that as much as, we gotta defend the play. That really is what my focus has been on."
Kelly also said running back Le'Veon Bell and Gantt were both eligible receivers on the play even though they were lined up over safety Harrison Smith and linebacker Carlo Calabrese.
He also reviewed how the Irish defended the play.
"We are man-to-man," Kelly said. "Harrison and Carlo are man-to-man on the release, and we have an edge player, who's Gary Gray, who has in that instant it was the kicker who ran a swing. It is matched man-to-man on the back side."