I’m not sure how to describe what I saw Saturday. A travesty? A farce? A sick joke?
The three calls made late in the OU-Oregon game by Pac-10 officials were both wrong and inexcusable. There’s no other way to say it, and some severe explaining needs to be done.The Oklahoma – Texas Tech instant replay controversy last year was like a misdemeanor compared to this felony of a bungling by the officials. The plays were no-brainers. After watching a tape of the game over and over again, the truth still remains the same. OU was screwed.
On the onside kick, the Oregon player clearly touched the ball first before it went 10 yards. The illegal contact was then proven on what seemed like eight different camera angles.
But in a surreal moment right out of George Orwell’s 1984 — or any other futuristic novel where the people in charge dictate the “truth” to the masses — the referee came out and said, and I’m quoting here, “There is conclusive video evidence that the ball was touched by a receiving team (OU) player.”
Conclusive? Did the official in the booth somehow flip his channel to the LSU-Auburn game? Because he sure as heck wasn’t watching what I was watching.
Here was the referee, telling millions of people watching on television that they didn’t see what they just saw.
And lost in all of the confusion was that OU’s Allen Patrick actually recovered the football. Once again, the tape clearly shows the ball squirt out of the bottom of the pile — well away from any Oregon player — and Patrick simply picks it up and shows it to the officials, who proceed to ignore him.
Seconds later, seemingly to rub it in, a pass clearly deflected by an OU lineman was not acknowledged because the video was “inconclusive.”
The whole sequence was mind-boggling.
So what should be done?
First, there needs to be an investigation, because the game was handed to Oregon on a silver platter. Whether this was intentional or not, I don’t know. Basically, there needs to be open explanation to OU as to how this situation was permitted to occur under a system that was brought in to keep situations like this from occurring.
Second, instant replay has officially been proven a sham and needs to be discarded or drastically changed. If referees won’t overturn calls that are obviously incorrect, then why have the system at all? In reality, the plays weren’t even that close, yet somehow they befuddled the officials.
Third, college football’s timing changes have also taken a hit. With 45 seconds left – under the old rules – the Sooners would have had plenty of time to get into better field goal range. Under the new rules, where the clock starts at the kick and as soon as the ball is spotted, the Sooners managed one measly run and nearly let the clock run out before spiking the football.
And finally, the national media’s anti-OU bias was clearly displayed by an unwillingness to defend the Sooners.
“Well, if the Sooners would have played better defense, or made the field goal, they still could have won,” one national talking head said.
They shouldn’t have had to keep playing defense, and Hartley shouldn’t have had to hit a field goal.
And trust me, I’m not one to make excuses. I hate excuses. Can’t stand ‘em. I usually I just tell people to get over it and move on.
But in this case, I have to make an exception. The Sooners, who many predicted would lose to Oregon (including myself), came out and played extremely well for a young team on the road in a stadium as formidable as Autzen. Yes, they made plenty of mistakes. Too many to count, really. But they played well enough to win, and that’s all that matters. It’s a shame that a hard-earned victory from a young team had to be so obviously taken away.
So, in the words of Ricky Ricardo, “Somebody’s got some ‘splaining to do.”
Zach West is the sports editor and a journalism senior. His column appears every Monday.Photo: The football seems to be recovered by an OU player after an onside kick from Oregon during Saturday’s game. Photo provided