In the midst of a report yesterday that the Big 12 apologized “profusely” to the Oklahoma State Cowboys for the fumble/non-fumble/touchdown call at the end of their game with the Texas Longhorns Saturday, the situation struck me as oddly familiar. And the reason I felt like I’d seen this charade performed before is because we’re talking about referees, a Confederacy of Dunces if there ever was one.
That’s probably more than they deserve but after watching NFL replacements make calls from outer space, perhaps there’s some truth.
As for the Big 12, a precedent exists in this zebra arena though the Pac 10 was the one doing the groveling. In 2006, conference commissioner Tom Hanson admitted mistakes to the Oklahoma Sooners and Bob Stoops for the inept officiating during the Sooner loss to the Oregon Ducks. An onside kick was mysteriously awarded to Oregon as the game wound down and the call not reversed when it was clear to everyone watching that a Ducks player had touched it prior to the ball going the required ten yards. On the following drive, a phantom pass interference put a nice cherry on top of the madness and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen steam come out of a head coach’s ears, but it did that day.
Where the Pac 10 obviously miscalculated the intelligence of their employees, they made penance by suspending the crew for a game and apologizing.
So it came as no surprise to see the Big 12 express condolences to Mike Gundy for the miscue in Stillwater. To those watching, the ball surely came out of Joe Bergeron’s grasp. Did it happen prior to breaking the plane? Was it recovered by the Cowboys before the scrum? Those questions are left unanswered and frankly, aren’t all that relevant considering the call on the field was a touchdown and the inability of the reviewer to award possession to Oklahoma State without evidence the Cowboys defense recovered before all hell broke loose.
But where the Big 12 erred, at least in my perspective, is by broaching an apology at all. There’s zero to say to Mike Gundy that will make him believe he hasn’t been wronged. Officials denying the report of a conversation and apology after the fact – when it’s blowing up social media – look reactionary
No one expects perfection from the men in black and white stripes on a weekly basis. In the case of an egregious mistake, sure, conference administrators may comment. This isn’t one of those instances. To possibly apologize and then retract or ignore it only reinforces that the men with whistles are just as fallible as the suits in Big 12 offices.