So how do you handle a bad call?


     Listen for a moment.  You can hear it from where you are sitting.

     There it is…it's getting louder.  It's that high pitched and annoying sound wafting along with the breeze.

     What is it you ask? 

     It is the pitiful sound of coaches whining about the referees.

     It all started with Joe Paterno's dissatisfaction with the calls made by the crew who worked the Penn State-Iowa game.  Not only did he take his gripe to the media, he even took the matter in his own hands right after the game by sprinting down the field and grabbing the back of a referee's jersey.  Gripped by the storyline like a narcissist passing a mirror, the media began penning a few articles on the matter.  Not satisfied with the treatment he received from a mostly Michigan crew of officials, Joe was happy to oblige their budding interest again just two short weeks later following an overtime loss to the Wolverines.  Pens and cameras ready, the media watched with intense interest as Penn State's next big game, Ohio State, approached.  Sure enough the fodder for their stories was there for them to exploit, and many reported it in such a way that Ohio State was just plain lucky to win.  Not only that but Paterno once again put his hands on a referee, leading to endless Sportscenter moments and an uncomfortable moment in the broadcast booth where the talking heads simply did not know what to say. 

     JoPa has unwittingly turned himself, the Big Ten, and the sport into a carnival act.  All that is missing are the clowns and their dogs jumping through hoops. 

     Now, this story has a life of its own.  Every game the cameras are ready to pounce on the all too human referees after they make an inevitable mistake.  Coaches are shown videotape or peppered with queries about whether or not this upsets them that they lost the game "because of a bad call."  Most oblige the story hungry reporters.

     Marching to the media's drummer, these coaches whine about the unfairness of it all and the injustice of how these kids fought their hearts out and then the referee just plain took the game away from them. 

     Don't be fooled.

     These coaches are not speaking out in the name of justice or fairness. 

     The reality is that they only bring tape to the media of the bad calls on their team.  Did Joe Paterno show the media clips of the poor call against Iowa that allowed Penn State to come back and tie the Hawkeyes in regulation?  How about Randy Walker who cried about the lack of holding calls after Northwestern was shellacked and claimed that this sort of loss would happen again if the referees refused to call holding when the other team hung onto his players?  Did Randy bring a clip of the TWO instances where his players were caught on tape punching their opponents in their family jewels?  Did Randy bring any of the torn jerseys from the Ohio State defensive linemen after the Buckeyes played the Wildcats and were clutched and grabbed so often that the Buckeyes thought they were stuck in the back seat of a car with an overexcited teenager?  Then there is Lloyd Carr who is always ready for a quote.  He cried foul after the Big Ten referees apologized to Illinois last year for missing some calls that likely cost the Illini a victory.  What?  Isn't Lloyd the one in the conference who always wants the referees to do a better job and gripes all the time (publicly) about it?  Is this not the same guy who had it happened to Meeeeshigan would have hailed it as too little and too late but a real step in the right direction?

     I have seen only one coach publicly take the high road this season, and that was Tyrone Willingham.  After his team was clearly hurt by a poor call that cost them a touchdown against Boston College, Tyrone simply said that he was not going to run a program of whiners and complainers.  He told the reporters that excuses do not get the job done and if the Irish had played better, then the call would not have mattered.

     Kudos for Willingham for having the courage to just stand up and point the finger at himself and his team for not getting the job done against the Eagles.

     And what about the fans?

     Are most fans upset about the bad calls on both teams?  If their team advances toward a national title because of a bad call, are they going to clamor for the referees to suspend the game and give the ball back to the other team?  I have yet to hear a

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