It’s an absolutely idiotic, broken system that does nothing but give a veneer of respectability to the thoroughly inept, pathetic referee system in college football. What the hell is the point of having this stupid thing if a trained replay official can’t even spot what is plainly obvious to the public at home, and even to the retards in the press box?
Oklahoma has now had any chance of a perfect season shattered by a series of absolutely fucked up calls against Oregon. OU was the better team by a mile in the second half, yet Oregon was allowed to prevail because the referees completely gift wrapped the game for them. I have always been disappointed by the poor state of officiating in college and pro football, but never have I been so angry and so convinced that the referees chose which team they wanted to win.
With less than 2 minutes left in the game, with the Sooners leading 33-20, Oregon scored a touchdown and lined up for the onside kick. The replay of the kick clearly showed that Oregon’s #19 touched the ball in the air before it had gone the required 10 yards, making it automatically Oklahoma’s ball at that point. A correct call there would have allowed Oklahoma to run the clock out for the 6-point victory. Yet the idiot side judge ruled that it had been a live ball, and that Oregon had successfully recovered. The moron in the replay booth had ample opportunity to make the correct call here, yet somehow came to the absolutely insupportable conclusion that an Oklahoma player had touched the ball first. The head referee even had the unmitigated gall to claim that it was “undisputable video evidence.” So not only was the play not reversed, the replay system actually whitewashed the terrible call and tried to make it look like the video evidence supported the wrong call!
If only that were the last of it, I might be able to swallow my bile and go on with my day. But just two plays later, Oklahoma was flagged for pass interference (which is the last refuge of a crooked ref). The replay booth called for a review, and the slow-motion video clearly showed two pieces of evidence that should have overturned the call. One, the defender did not touch the receiver until the ball had already touched the receiver’s hands. Unfortunately, the fucked up system doesn’t allow replay to overturn a penalty call directly. More importantly, however, it showed that OU’s C.J. Ah-You clearly tipped the ball at the line of scrimmage, meaning that contact with the receiver was permissible, and the penalty invalid. However, once again the replay system failed, and the referee said, with a straight face somehow, that there was “no indisuptable video evidence that the ball was tipped.” At this point, the 15 yard penalty put Oregon on the OU 20, and it was a foregone conclusion that, especially with the refs in their pocket, they would score and take the lead 34-33. Somehow, OU managed to almost win the game anyhow on a long-distance field goal, but Oregon was able to block it to secure their misbegotten win.
I have seen teams victimized this badly without instant replay (USC’s bullshit win over Notre Dame last year being the best example), but this is the kind of crooked officiating that is supposed to be overcome by having replay. When the replay crew is this incompetent or crooked themselves, it makes a mockery of the whole system. Between this game and USC-ND last year, I am now absolutely convinced that Pac-10 officials cannot officiate an inter-conference game fairly, and that they in fact intercede on their conference’s behalf in close game situations. This game could be the difference between a BCS berth and a lesser bowl for OU come January, and I hold the Pac-10 directly responsible for this travesty of officiating. Oklahoma did not lose to the Ducks – they lost to the zebras.
Update: This ESPN article shows exactly what my beef is. They barely talk about the horrible calls, and basically shrug and say, “Well, the replay didn’t overturn it.” Replay is just an excuse for officials to duck blame for not doing their jobs properly. If it overturns them, nobody gets to complain, because the right call got made in the end; and if the replay official ignores the evidence and allows the call on the field to stand, it gives the referees cover for their ineptitude, because no sportswriter will go out on a limb to say they got it wrong. The whole thing is a crock of shit.
Second Update: It would appear that I was mistaken, and this story caught fire far more than I ever expected it to. Unfortunately, it didn’t get out there in time to keep poll voters from rewarding Oregon and penalizing Oklahoma in the rankings. But we even got an official apology from the Pac-10 Conference. Take a look at that sidebar, though. That makes me really sad – gripe all you want about the replay guy, call him whatever awful names you want to, but don’t threaten him; and especially don’t threaten his family! At the end of the day, it’s just football, for the love of God! I’ll admit, I got a little carried away here, too, but come on! That just embarasses all of us who are Sooner fans. I pray to God that death threat was in the heat of anger, and that no one means to actually harm this man or his family.