Following my social media mini-tirade last weekend on why Duke should have been awarded the victory over Miami since one of the worst officiating jobs during the replay era was on the last play of the game and therefore cost the Blue Devils a game they had won everywhere except the scoreboard, former Alabama player Doug Vickers replied, “They better not, or else I want my 1983 Penn State win.”
Vickers has a great point because deciding a game after the fact would open a big can of worms. But wait, isn’t that what the ACC officiating crew did? I mean, Duke had already won the game and today’s officials have instant replay to prove it, but despite the fact that a player’s knee was down on the eight-lateral kickoff return and anywhere from three to five blocks in the back were made by Miami – not to mention a player running onto the field with his helmet off before the play was over – officials took about nine minutes to decide they’d just call it good and head for the exits.
As big a choke as the Michigan game was against Michigan State, the ACC officials were even worse.
I understand officials are in a no-win situation each game regardless of the level of play – high school, college or professional. However, when you have instant replay and everything is as crystal clear as it was Saturday at Duke, how can such a decision be made? As for the block in the back penalty, that is not even a reviewable penalty, so how does that get waved off following replay?
I usually have empathy for officials because they don’t have a stake in the outcome and they have families at home and mothers that are proud of what they do, but suspending these guys for two games for taking a win away from the players, coaches and fans of Duke University because of their incompetence should really mean never getting to officiate as much as a Pee Wee game again.
The ACC office probably never imagined it would be put in such a position, and not to mention all of the money that has already changed hands legally with those that bet the game in Las Vegas and other areas, but someone should have announced Duke as the victor before the players had a chance to take off their shoulder pads.
There will always be game-changing calls that were controversial to say the least – the Enterprise loss at Auburn this season is one example. I once covered a game and watched a 48-yard field goal at the buzzer go through the uprights to apparently give a team a win, only to have an official throw a flag for the offense having 12 players on the field. No one went off the field and 11 were counted by everyone, but the official had too much pride and just said that a player had run off. Despite screaming from the offense’s sideline, they lined up again and tried a 53-yarder, which hit the cross bar and bounced back no good. Even the winning coach felt bad for the losing team afterward, saying the official must have counted wrong.
Talk about a penalty costing you a game.
As long as there are games that need an official, there will be controversies, and some people say if we’re talking about the sport it’s always a good thing. Maybe that was once so, but in this day of instant replay that no longer holds true. If you think you’re sick because a missed field goal was returned against your team (Alabama) to end the game, or a blocked field goal (Florida State), or a botched punt attempt (Michigan), imagine being a Duke fan and knowing that the game should have been over with you on top, only to have a crew of clowns take it away from you.
Coaches are fired because of losses, which uproots families and leaves dozens of young kids at a college playing for someone they hadn’t signed up to play for. Perhaps we can at least get the call right upon further review.