Saturday, October 11, 2008

Red River Rivalry Referee Ridiculousness

I generally try to avoid getting into discussions about bad officiating, because human error is honestly part of the game. You cannot review every single play in a game and you have to trust the on field officiating crew to call a good game. This all being said I must weigh in on what have been some very questionable, and even down right terrible, calls by the crew and review officials of the Oklahoma vs Texas game.

Oklahoma intercepts a pass in the endzone. Everyone, but the officials, immediately said it was a touchdown. Then to the surprise of many, including the announcers, Texas is lined up to kick a field goal - apparently, it had been ruled an incomplete pass. Replay on television clearly showed that the Oklahoma player had possession of the ball until he hit the ground. Last I knew, the ground couldn't cause a fumble. The play was not reviewed - and an incorrect call stood. I do not understand how that call could not be reviewed. A turnover in the end zone causes a huge momentum swing and obviously the field goal for Texas would never have happened. If Oklahoma loses this game by three, be prepared for many to blame that play and that bad call.

In addition, there have been many penalties called that have just been bad. Colt McCoy ran for a first down in the second half with a Sooner chasing him out of bounds. McCoy's run took him into the Longhorn bench/sideline. The defender made no effort to push McCoy down, in fact, from replay it appeared that the defender was actually trying to slow McCoy down, hold him up. The Longhorn sideline immediately starting calling for a flag and after a few moments, the flag was thrown. When did officials start relying on the opinions of one of the teams when making calls? Seems to me the entire point is for the officials to not pay attention to the noise on the sidelines.

Of course, it is only fair to point out that Oklahoma had a similarly ridiculous flag go in their favor. On an Oklahoma punt, Texas brought pressure (though the punt was not blocked). One Texas player barely grazed the punter - from the replay, it did not appear that the Texas player had any actual impact on the punter. Yes, the punter did fall down, but then immediately started to get up. Halfway to standing back up, he suddenly collapsed. Now, I have a feeling he was genuinely injured - he had been hurting after a fake punt earlier in the game, but he certainly was able to play up how hard he got hit and earned a flag.

At this point (now late in the 4th quarter), Texas is pulling away, so perhaps these calls will not impact the game's final result, but it is disappointing to see such an important game have such lackluster officiating. Hopefully the NCAA will take a look at this game and figure out how to avoid such issues happening again.

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