I questioned whether I should write this or not… After all, Coach Long did get off with a "public reprimand" from the MWC for his comments after the Lobos were the recipient of one of the worst calls in many a year from the officiating crew after last Saturday's game vs. the BYU Cougars in Provo UT.
In case you have been living under a bridge and don't have The Mtn., ESPN, or any of the local channels you missed the play where Lobo QB Tate Smith hit Bryant Williams on a WR screen play that went into the end zone to bring the Lobos within striking distance of then #8 BYU.
As the team was celebrating the "yellow flag" was thrown. When I first saw a flag was thrown, I believed it was a "celebration" penalty on UNM. However, reality came quick as an illegal block in the back on Lobo Hitmen Byron Bell was called nullifying the touchdown.
The Mtn. Network showed the replay of the "illegal block" and both commentators were at a loss for words as it was obvious that Bell did not touch or help the BYU defender to the ground in any way. What made the play look even more nefarious was the fact that the flag was "thrown late" as Williams was crossing into the end zone.
For many Lobo fans sitting at home watching the game, myself included the idea of UNM receiving a penalty that would screw the Lobos vs. the Cougars wasn't a surprise… Shoot most teams that play vs. BYU have felt that same sort of "screwed" feeling. In fact, prior to the "phantom block" there was that familiar feeling of impending doom. But we are fans at home. We don't really have a voice. The players don't really have a voice… Or do they?
After the game Coach Long was on the 770 KKOB post game show when he unleashed against the "criminal call" and the fact that his players felt "cheated out of an opportunity to win." For those of us listening it was like music to our ears. Now if you don't know Coach Long or haven't listened to him, you don't know that he is an honest guy. He tells it like it is and punishment, reprimands, and fines be damned.
In his post game interview Coach Long went off once again. If you missed it, here is the clip on The Mtn.'s website
If you missed it here are some quotes from The Rock!
the officials obviously blew a call that changed
the entire momentum of the game. It's criminal that they changed the
of the game like that. It's ridiculous that one call can change all the
momentum of the game and take the game away from one team.
"Once again, I'm going to say we might not have won anyway. We might've still lost the game. But it should've been a hell of a game right to the end, and the officials took it away from us."
I must admit I am one of those conspiracy theorist out there that felt that with the game close The MWC was going to do everything they possibly could to not allow UNM to win. Let's face it with the BCS' big money out there the MWC like all non-BCS conferences are willing to sell their souls and integrity for that dollar. Rudy C. on our message board roughly used a quote from the Mel Gibson movie Braveheart to sum it up perfectly.
Non-BCS teams scramble to get the
scraps from Longshanks' table and we are dumb enough to accept it.
So while it was no shock to see the call it is still infuriating to all concerned as the Lobo football players and coaches work just as hard as the BYU coaches and players and they deserve a fairly called game. Of course ESPN who is a BCS partner and would love nothing better then seeing non-BCS schools tossed out of the process picked up on this and Coach Long's comments were seen all over the nation.
That night I and all other Lobo fans felt sure that Coach Long was going to be fined and severely reprimanded for his comments and once again Coach Long said, "He wasn't worried about that." The Rock knew what he was doing was right! He was standing up for his players and rallying his fan base and this fan for one totally appreciates it.
So imagine Lobo fan's surprise today as MWC Commish Craig "The Hair" Thompson issued a "public reprimand" today:
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - New Mexico Head Football Coach Rocky Long has been issued a public reprimand for his comments critical of the officiating in the New Mexico at BYU contest played Saturday, October 11. Those public remarks were in violation of MWC Sportsmanship Rule Sections 4.2-e and 4.4.5.
What? No fine? No probation? No suspension? No anything? "The Hair" just slithered back into his ivory tower praying that this little "incident" would just go away.
Not that I want Coach Long to suffer any kind of huge fine, or worse suspension, but Thompson and his cronies didn't give any consequences for Coach Long's words because they like Coach Long. Nor did they not punish him because they felt that the Lobos got screwed or the official made a bad call.
The MWC honchos didn't punish Coach Long for his comments because they just want it to go away. They don't want replays of "The Phantom block in the back" on any TV screens where the "BCS Longshanks" might see them. They don't want voters to know that maybe there were shenanigans at the end of the game. They don't want anyone questioning the integrity of the MWC, and in this "conspiracy theorists'" mind… They want it to go away just in case it happens again…
The scramble for the scraps from Longshank's table continues…