Michigan punter can learn from ex-FSU kicker

After instantly becoming one of the biggest goats in college football history, Michigan punter Blake O'Neill was warned not to show up at classes Monday.

From 1,500 miles away, Dan Mowrey had more helpful advice.

"You can either take it as a positive and learn from it," he said, "or take the other option."

The other option, according to social-media mobsters, would be to return to Australia and be eaten by a great white shark. Such has been the backlash from Saturday's 27-23 loss to Michigan State.

In case you somehow missed it, the host Wolverines were 10 seconds away from ecstasy. All they needed was for O'Neill to punt the ball and they would upset the hated Spartans.

Instead, O'Neill bobbled the snap. He looked like a reverse Bill Buckner, stooping over and chasing the bouncing ball until the rush engulfed him.

He was spun around and tried to kick the ball, but it somehow flung into the arms of Michigan State's Jalen Watts-Jackson, who rumbled 38 yards for a touchdown.

It quickly became one of the biggest non-Trump gaffes of the year. Even the Sydney Morning Herald, not exactly a college football chronicle, ran a story about the Spartans' crazy win.

"They had not led all match," it read.

At least the paper did not recount other great American sports bloopers, like Roy Riegels' wrong-way run in the 1929 Rose Bowl or FSU's wrong-way kicking in the early 1990s.

There was Wide Right I when Gerry Thomas missed a 34-yard field goal that would have given FSU a 19-17 win over Miami. The next year brought Wide Right II when Mowrey missed a 39-yarder that would have tied the Hurricanes 19-19.

Maybe in a million years, the agony will completely go away for many FSU fans. It vanished a lot sooner for Mowrey.

"I was mad that I missed it," he said. "But I was more mad that I let my teammates down."

It's not that Mowrey stopped caring about what happened. He just realized something early on.

"The thing is not to let people who don't matter define who you are," he said.

Those people defined Mowrey as a disgrace to humanity. They left messages on his phone and notes on his car.

Now the lunatic fringe speaks exponentially louder through social media.

"I HATE YOU," was one of the many Twitter messages O'Neill received.

There have been death threats. Michigan interim athletic director Jim Hackett wrote an open letter to fans Sunday, condemning those who've let a blown punt ruin their lives.

I wonder if O'Neill ever experienced this in Australian-rules football. That was his sport until two years ago when he moved to America to chase his punting dreams.

His mates back in Melbourne probably don't get what the big deal is. Mowrey didn't have a faraway place to turn for comfort.

He was from Tallahassee. The first couple of months were rough, but he found out who his real friends were.

Mowrey said he relied on his faith in God and lessons he'd been taught. Like growing through adversity, overcoming challenges, working harder.

They might sound like bromides to the Twitter snipes, but they worked. Mowrey is a successful attorney in St. Augustine and is happily raising three daughters.

The oldest is 13 and doesn't care that her dad once missed a big kick to lose the match in Miami. If she ever asks, he will be glad to tell her about it.

"I can truly say it was one of the best things that ever happened to me," Mowrey said.

Now O'Neill has the same option. The lunatics will let Saturday's blunder define him forever.

Take it from someone who's been there, Blake.

You can use it to define yourself.