Sunday, September 7, 2008

An Example of What's Wrong with the NCAA.

#15 BYU played unranked Washington Saturday. It was a thrilling game with back and forth scoring. Down 28-21 with 2 seconds left, Washington QB Jake Locker made a clutch scramble to score the TD that only left Washington down by one. Once he crossed the plane, he tossed the ball over his shoulder and lept with his teammates in joy. The referees assessed a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to be assessed on the game tying point after attempt. This turned a 19 yard field goal attempt into a 34 yarder. The kick was subsequently blocked, allowing BYU to escape with a victory.

I don't like excessive celebrations. They rankle me as the actions of primadonnas. They represent everything that is wrong with the game. However, this was not an excessive celebration. There were no cell phones, no sharpies, no dancing, and no planning. This was a kid and his teammates ecstatic about making the big play. Raw emotion and pure victory. It was everything that's right about football, and team sports in general. Without that emotion the game is lessened. It is everything for sports.

The referee who threw the flag was Larry Farina. Pac 10 coaches have the opportunity to "rest" a referee for a game, essentially blackballing them from the game. Mike Riley, head coach of Oregon State, and probably one of the nicest people you'll ever meet, has only used that authority once. He "rested" Farina from refing OSU in 2006. In 2007, he was not given the roster of referees to review before the game against Washington. He trotted onto the field, and found Larry Farina waiting for him. The ensuing game was one of the worst officiated games I have ever seen in my life. Three OSU players were ejected, and a blown fumble call that nearly cost OSU the game. Oregon State's athletic director, Bob DeCarolis, went on a rampage to get the officiating crew suspended.

The lack of oversight and standardization of the officiating of games is another problem. Pac 10 officials have been particularly bad, and Farina's been the worst of the bunch. The entire system needs to be overhauled, and Farina needs to be fired. "Rested permanently" if you'd like to use the NCAA's soft PC language. These games bring in millions of dollars and we're trusting them to part time workers? Hell no. You can throw the refs on the pile of things I'd fix with college football if I were king.

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