I don’t know if you care about college football. I know a lot of folks got fed up with it long ago when final scores started to surpass college basketball outcomes.
But if you care about fairness and common sense…read on, dear reader.
On Halloween Night the cruelest of pranks was perpetrated on the Duke Blue Devils (nickname irony with Holiday not lost here) on their home field of Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham NC.
After having scored on a 1-yard touchdown run against the Miami Hurricanes with but six seconds left to take a 27-24 lead all that was left for Duke to do – on their way to potentially winning an ACC title and at the very least get to a major bowl game in the process – was to kick the ball off and run out the clock.
What followed was your typical last-second fire-drill return in these types of situations. One player gets the ball and advances it as far as he can, then lateraling it away to a teammate and so on. The prayer of trying to pull all of this unscripted activity together and actually go the length of a football field is virtually impossible.
Unless you do it illegally. That helps your cause immeasurably.
In college football once the final score is declared and the stadium empties the rule is nothing can be done to change the outcome. Unless of course someone finds out years later one of your players took money from an agent or was academically ineligible. Then we have an appetite for magically wiping out entire seasons and taking away championships…but I digress…
Anyway the following is the list – the list mind you – of reasons why Miami’s eventual eight-lateral, miracle touchdown and subsequent 30-27 victory shouldn’t stand:
- The replay booth official should have ruled a Miami player down before releasing the football on one of the laterals. Game over. (Everything else that follows just adds to the madness)
- The officials on the field failed to penalize Miami for an illegal block in the back. If that had been called correctly the ball would have been placed accordingly and Miami would have had one final attempt to score from essentially the length of the field.
- The officials on the field failed to penalize Miami for a player running onto the field before their alleged touchdown was scored. Under current rules that still would have not negated the score. I have never understood how extra players on a field during play shouldn’t automatically negate a score but maybe that’s why a lot of people don’t follow football…it doesn’t make bleeping sense at times.
- The officials on the field DID make an illegal block in the back call. However the officials on the field then made the decision to change that call (correctly, believe it or not) to a legal block…but they inexplicably did not confer with the replay booth official.
College football and its broadcast partners boast loudly and proudly in their sport every play is reviewed by replay. Why this final play of a major college football game wasn’t officiated properly …with so much on the line…is anyone’s guess.
It may not shock you this already was considered a poorly-officiated game before the final six seconds unwound.
The bottom line is the entire officiating crew that was on the field, the field communicator and the replay booth official were judged by the Atlantic Coast Conference to have screwed this game up so badly they’ll be taking the next couple of weeks off to rake leaves.
Obviously the scariest part of this Halloween nightmare for Duke is while replay is allegedly used to right wrongs in the world of sports one thing we don’t seem to have a taste for fixing is declaring the Blue Devils the winner of this game…unless a couple of years from now some Hurricane player would happen to be found ineligible. We seem to relish in over-examining and mass-changing outcomes in those types of situations…even several years later. (Miami fans, you already know about those sorts of “replays” don’t you?)
For all of you like me who just don’t get replay in sports as currently applied we have another arrow in our quiver to aim at those who can’t get enough of trying to maintain replay systems without allowing for true justice to prevail.
But…Duke still has a loss.
So much for righting wrongs…