ARLINGTON, Texas - The Pisarcik family had to wait a generation, but the bitter memory of Giants quarterback Joe's role in "The Fumble" in 1978 was supplanted Monday night by son Jake's appearance with Oregon in the inaugural College Football Playoff championship game, a 42-20 loss to Ohio State.
As a redshirt freshman, the 6-2, 295-pound Pisarcik made two early-season starts and has played an important backup role, rotating at both guard positions in the Ducks' high-tempo attack. Jake is expected to step in next season as the starting center, replacing graduating Hroniss Grasu.
"Every time you get in there, you just cut it loose and have fun," the younger Pisarcik said before the game. "Everybody's moving fast. Once you get the offense down, it slows down for you a little bit [mentally]."
In one sense, his journey from the Philadelphia suburbs in South Jersey to Oregon's high-powered program on the opposite side of the country is improbable. He didn't switch from tight end to offensive line until he was a senior at Shawnee High in Medford, New Jersey, but Ducks recruiters liked his combination of speed and footwork when they saw his recruiting video. "I just sent out a bunch of tapes," he said. "We sent it to like 20 colleges a day, and we got lucky."
In another sense, his development into a top offensive lineman is a reflection of the toughness Jake inherited from his father.
Joe Pisarcik had to live with "The Fumble," which took place Nov. 19, 1978, when his handoff to Larry Csonka went awry and was scooped up by Eagles defensive back Herman Edwards and returned 26 yards for the winning TD in the final seconds. Pisarcik wanted to kneel on the ball but was overruled by offensive coordinator Bob Gibson, who was fired after the game.
Pisarcik, 62, played another season for the Giants and five more with the Eagles. "It was pretty cool just having a family background in football," Jake said. "Very cool . . . My dad's a really tough guy. I would like to be one day as tough as him."
Jake's toughness and that of his offensive linemates figured to be tested by an Ohio State defensive line that includes two All-Americans, end Joey Bosa and tackle Michael Bennett. Pisarcik said it would be critical for the Ducks to establish the running game to set up the play-action passing of Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota (Oregon ran for 132 yards on 33 carries and Mariota passed for 333 yards), but he expressed confidence in their fast-break attack.
"They're a good defensive line, but I think we're a really good offensive line," he said. "When we're 'tempo-ing,' when we're going, we'll see how good they actually are. The faster you go, you're going to see how people react to it. If you're not in shape and you're not used to going fast, then it will hurt you."