The Big 12 has a genuine problem on its hands. And no amount of sanctimonious posturing that comes over the next week will make it go away. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby may even have to take a break from the autopilot of his 20 hour week to take an interest.
We just witnessed a highway robbery. Comparable to the NBA at the height of the Tim Donaghy scandal, when entire NBA playoff series were determined by whistles and fabricated calls and lead NBA company men like Joey Crawford were being convicted of felony fraud.
I generally despise people who whine about the refs. A single play rarely determines the outcome of a football game and it's a useful crutch for any team that feels they were owed a win. I have almost three hundred Texas post game breakdowns and open game threads in the public record and I think four or five of them may make some passing reference to a bad call as crucial to a game outcome. And half of them are pointing out how it benefitted us. Players and coaches determine 99.5% of football games. When they don't, it's simple human error.
We didn't watch incompetence. We just watched corruption. The question is - what kind?
Typically an incompetent crew penalizes both teams with equal levels of incompetence. It evens out. It's random and slipshod. I saw calculation and the purposeful, constant opportunistic management of a game outcome.
This officiating crew had a clear bias problem, which means, by definition, a corruption problem and, perhaps, even a financial interest problem. At least one of those descriptives is inarguable.
The game outcome was determined by the officiating crew. Any other viewpoint is ignorant of objective and empirical reality. Right now, I'm simply interested in determining what kind of human garbage we're dealing with: pro Cowboy or anti-Texas game riggers, corrupt gamblers, straight up racists who want to undercut a predominantly black coaching staff at the state Flagship or simply petty small men who decided early on they were going to "get" Texas for some unknown slight. I truly don't know. I've just never seen anything so blatantly purposeful in a football game.
At least one official on this crew was an interested party with a compelling interest in a desired game outcome. Hoopleheads will point to Michael Dickson's fumbled punt as the "play of the game" but the game outcome had already been altered a half dozen times upstream from that.
Let me repeat - because I know what the league, talking heads and idiots are going to say in response - this has nothing to do with incompetence. Or mistakes. Or normal human error. We saw multiple instances of calculated fabrication - all against one team, all at key moments in the game flow. A drunk driver is incompetent. A bank robber is calculating. Can you tell the difference in execution?
Incompetence doesn't result in fabrication. Calls were simply made up. Manufactured out of the air. All vines courtesy of Eric Nahlin.
#77 RG Patrick Vahe was called for a hold on a first half Longhorn TD run. It didn't happen. He had a perfect cut block on an OSU defender. His hands never contacted the OSU defender. A case of mistaken identity? Perhaps. So I scanned the entire play side view of every Longhorn offensive player. Burt was clean. OL was clean. No hold occurred. It didn't happen. Longhorn touchdown erased.
On a key fourth quarter drive, Poona Ford was called for "defensive holding" on a run play. Curious, that. Uncommon, to say the least. This call is typically reserved for a D-lineman grabbing an eligible receiver on a screen play before it can develop. OSU wasn't running a screen. On the replay, Poona Ford gets blocked (and held) and the ballcarrier gets tackled just past the line of scrimmage. Nothing else happens. There is no defensive hold. Because it didn't happen. For that same reason that a balk or icing couldn't be called. Watch the play and it's contextually impossible. That third down conjuring of bullshit set up a new set of downs and the field position necessary for OSU to kick the game tying field goal.
It also sparked Charlie Strong to finally lose it.
Charlie Strong finally had enough and screamed at the sideline official. That official threw a gutless flag instead of walking away. He chose to protect the shoddy officiating product on the field instead of walk away from a livid coach who was being screwed on national television. That flag guaranteed OSU's field goal. Do I blame Strong? Only if I hold him to a higher standard than anything I'm capable of. I would have knocked the official out and emptied his pockets looking for a Caesar's betting slip. Of course, I'm being ironic there. I mean Mandalay Bay.
Beyond the realm of pure fiction, all subjective calls went against Texas. Not many. Or an important one. All.
This is what I like to call a pattern.
The lateral TD throw from Marcus Johnson. Ignore the idiot announcers. The ball wasn't on the 40. The call could have gone either way. I think it was lateral, but reasonable people can disagree. Johnson confused the scene by stepping up post-catch, but that's perfectly allowable. He was still behind the LOS. This was the only subjective call you could actually argue for OSU.
The fumble recovery by Duke Thomas "dug out" by JW Walsh which was then "dug out" by Naashon Hughes? What are the rules for possession? Last man with the ball? Or first obvious possession? OSU loses on both counts. Texas ball. Nope, time for a referee intervention. OSU ball. It goes to the guy who has his hands on the ball briefly in between the first possession and the last that wins.
Shiro Davis was held (egregiously, one hand grabbing outside of shoulder pad across neck, other arm draped around the waist) while pressuring Rudolph on the Kris Boyd interception which drew no call, but when Paul Boyette gently bumped Mason Rudolph while pulling up his momentum post throw, Rudolph went for an Emmy, drew a 15 yard personal foul and the officials gave OSU a probable ten point flip. The two players are two feet from each other - you can't call one and not see the other. At minimum, a 3 point swing and 40 yards of field position. Would that call be helpful in a game tied at 27 late?
A first half holding call on Taylor Doyle that was irrelevant to the play outcome that happens on every down, on every running play in America, drew a flag. Even a color man as congenitally stupid as
David Lapham Ed Cunningham laughed at it. Later, Patrick Vahe had a second half pancake block on a zone reach. Same deal. Holding. Drive erased.
I could go on...there were plenty more. Like this - observe Naashon Hughes #40 for Texas being tackled. The sideline official is watching him, six yards away and the ballcarrier is on the same plane of vision.
Every subjective call went against Texas. When a call wasn't available to subjectively slant, at least one official simply conjured fiction like they were Stephen King's bookie.
Texas finished the game with 16 penalties for 128 yards. Half of them were mythology made up on the spot or over-officious nonsense which wasn't being applied to both teams.
The officials created or altered 24-28 points while doing so.
OSU had 7 penalties for 40 yards. All of them minor motion penalties or clear infractions that you can't swallow a whistle on. Except the ones they did.
We just watched a fixed football game. The first I've ever seen or can recall in all of my years.
What's the Big 12 going to do?
Nothing, that's what.