Cry Me a Red River

There's complaining and then there's complaining. If Oklahoma's school president had things his way, the Sooners would be coming off a bye week instead of a loss to the University of Oregon. Wouldn't that be just dandy? A team could go undefeated in a system like that.

University of Oklahoma president David Boren's letter to the Big 12 Commissioner, calling for the Sooners' game against Oregon last Saturday to be erased from the record books, is pure nonsense. The letter called into question the rulings of two plays that occurred in the last 1:12 of the fourth quarter, an onside kick and a pass interference call, which went against the Sooners and opened the door for the Ducks to win the game.

I don't have a problem with Boren's letter of complaint as such letters need to be sent to conference commissioners as part of a checks and balances system to improve the game and how it's officiated. What I do have a problem with is Boren calling for the game to be wiped off the books. There's no possible way he can be serious about this but regardless, he put it down on paper and as a result, he looks extremely foolish – or just out of touch.

Unfortunately, bad officiating is as much a part of sports as Turkey is with Thanksgiving dinner. The painful reality is that the athleticism of bigger and stronger players is passing the slower officials by. Until the sport modifies how it positions its officials on the field, or imposes some sort of stringent, mandatory conditioning program for the zebras, then more and more mistakes will be made. The extremely painful reality is that the sporting world, especially the coaches, players and fans of the teams getting the raw end of a bad call are going to have to live with the results, good or bad, because there is no way a precedent could be set to wipe games off the books "after further review."

I guess there's always a chance some rogue liberal judge could rule in favor of pretending a game never happened but last I checked Oklahoma was still a red state so we should be safe unless a school like Berkley or Harvard gets hosed by the officials. Seriously, though, can you imagine the anarchy this would create? You'd have teams petitioning losses because of a holding penalty on the first play of the second quarter that negated a touchdown pass.

Where would it end? Where would we draw the line? Perhaps, such a ruling would allow teams to go back in time and petition costly calls by the officials that lost games from yesteryear. I know the Seattle Seahawks would be ecstatic as they still deny that they lost last year's Super Bowl. I don't think you'd get any objections from the Oakland Raiders either for what happened to them in New England during the Patriots' first Super Bowl run. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim would probably be on board as well as some of the calls that went against them during their AL Championship Series with the Chicago White Sox were hideously bad.

Even the University of Arizona has suffered from its fair share of bad calls. Remember last year's game at Utah when we caused a fumble on the Utes' opening drive only to have the refs say their quarterback's arm was in a "forward throwing motion." Review of that play clearly showed that the ball was knocked loose. Coach Mike Stoops even challenged the call yet the officials upstairs compounded the situation by siding with their peers on the field, making the original call doubly bad.

For the Sooners, the calls may have cost them the game on Saturday. The calls definitely provided the Ducks with extra chances to win the game, but by no means were the officials the ones who let Jaime Dixon run wild and look like a Heisman candidate in the final minutes. It wasn't the officials missing tackles at the line of scrimmage or letting Oregon receivers get open down field. The bottom line is that the Sooners still had a chance to win, despite the poor officiating and didn't close the deal.

I know it's brutal. I know the calls weren't right. But human discretion is part of the game. Besides, does the Oklahoma president really expect us to believe that the Sooners have never been the beneficiary of a questionable call? Heck, let's watch this Reggie Bush saga play out. Maybe if the Sooners are lucky, the NCAA will strip away USC's 2004 BCS Championship and hand the crystal trophy over to Oklahoma.

I wonder what kind of letter their school president will write to the Big 12 Commissioner then.

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