Oklahoma is (not) OK
Editor's Note: As more and more of this surfaces, you may see links posted that were written after this entry was. While I find it important to keep my original text intact, I find it equally important to back my claims up with facts from other sources. Thanks.
Is anyone else tired of hearing about this?
If you are a college football fan, you know what I'm talking about. Oklahoma sat on a lead and gave up 2 late 4th quarter touchdowns to Oregon. The manner in which said TDs were scored is the butt of a controversy. Apparently the Pac-10 has a stipulation that a non-conference game against a Pac-10 team at home must have Pac-10 officials. So, when two controversial calls went in Oregon's favor, the Sooner nation had a melt down and the conspiracy theorists have come out of the woodworks.
OU leads by 13 with less than 2 minutes left in the game. Oregon is driving. Dennis Dixon, the Oregon QB, glides in to the end zone untouched. Extra point is made and OU is now up by 6. With a little more than a minute to play, Oregon decides to try an onside kick. According to the officials, they recover. On the replay, it appears as if Allen Patrick, an OU player, is at the back of the scrum with the ball in hand. (Video is under the 9/16/06 Oklahoma recap) However, the whistle is blown a full second before the ball is seen seeping through. From the ref's vantage point, the Oregon player had possession of the ball and hit the ground which caused the fumble. By definition, the play is now dead. The second part of the gripe is that the Oregon player touched the ball before it had traveled 10 yards which is an illegal maneuver. While I do tend to agree with the Sooners on this, it is so inconclusive that the video replay booth was not in a position to overturn the call. (The yellow line on a TV broadcast is not official) Oregon is granted possession on their 40 yard line.
Oregon, with less than a minute to play, starts driving down the field. On 3rd down, a pass is seemingly tipped at the line of scrimmage negating the blatant pass interference going on down the field. After another lengthy review, it is determined that there is no indisputable evidence to overturn the call on the field. (Plus the fact that a pass interference call is not reviewable...I don't understand what the hold up was) Oregon is granted a 15 yard penalty and an automatic first down. One play later, Dixon hits a wide open receiver in the end zone, the extra point is made, and Oklahoma is down by 1.
Oklahoma, after a 56 yard kickoff return, receives the ball with great field position. Instead of passing to gain some yardage, they give the ball to Adrian Peterson to apparently get a better spot for the field goal attempt. With no timeouts, the ball is spiked, the kicker comes on, the FG attempt is blocked, and the game is over. Oregon wins 34-33.
I despise OU as much as the next Horn, but I admit that they were probably robbed on this one. It was a blatant failure on the officiating crew and the replay booth to get the calls correct in the 10 minutes it took to review them. I'd much prefer to beat an undefeated Oklahoma team in Dallas and somewhat disheartened that we will not have the chance. However, the outcry has gone overboard. The president of Oklahoma has written a letter to the Big 12 commissioner asking for him to intervene and demand an apology from the Pac-10 conference. Not only is this presumptuous of who is to blame, it also implies that the game was somehow fixed. On a side note, I find it humorous that the Oklahoma president is just now concerning himself with the prospect of illegal payments, but I digress...
The ploy has apparently worked. Somewhat.
The fact of the matter is that no one will remember this in a few weeks. Oklahoma is not a national championship caliber team and this wasn't a conference game that affects their ability to contend for the Big 12 or BCS game. Colorado received a share of a national championship title as a result of a 5th down against Missouri back in 1990. THAT is a definition of a travesty. This is not. Run the table and you have a beef. The possibility to do this was slim with Rhett Bomar. It is even less likely with Paul Thompson.
So, man up Sooners and move on. Seeking vengeance against the officials will not change the outcome of the game. Neither will death threats. It also won't address the more pressing concern: Your defense. Getting shafted on a few calls did not automatically put points on the scoreboard for Oregon. Had this game taken place last year, you wouldn't have even had the benefit of a review since that was not even the Pac-10's policy.
Where's the accountability?