Pounds: Not-so Big EastWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | firstname.lastname@example.org
In a pure scenario, athletes would play and win games without influence or interference from officials and referees. But officiating — and officiating mistakes — have been a part of sports culture since the first nearsighted caveman put on a zebra skin and merged his cranium with his lower intestines.
But our University of Toledo Rockets faced an on-field injustice that set a new low for botched calls.
As any pigskin fan knows by now, UT’s opponent, Syracuse, scored a late-game touchdown that was followed by a missed extra point attempt. Except the officials on the field ruled the kick good and — even more mystifyingly — a replay official who had access to the game film also ruled it good.
That decision, which gave Syracuse a three-point lead instead of a two-point lead, surprised even the Big East announcers covering the game, who were clear and vocal that the kick missed its mark. When all was said and done, a game UT should have won by a point was lost in an overtime that never should have occurred.
There are those who argue that UT could have done this or could have done that on the field to prevent being in a situation where a blown call decided the game, but that does not address the reality of what happened.
Subsequently, UT coach Tim Beckman, backed by Athletic Director Mike O’Brien, sought an appeal or a reversal of the game’s outcome. That was not going to happen, but kudos to them for standing up for their program and their student athletes by trying.
But the mystery here is why they had to ask at all. Once the Big East officials made a public statement that the call was a mistake, why wouldn’t Syracuse and its Big East officials take the initiative to make things right by vacating the “victory”? What example does the college and its conference set for its students by slinking away in silence instead of being proactive and refusing to settle for a stolen win? Maybe that’s endemic of a conference that has allowed a half-dozen schools to leave for greener pastures.
It may be just a game, but it was an opportunity for a life lesson the not so Big East let slip away.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at email@example.com.