As much as I hadn't given the replay rule much thought one way or the other in college football before this season, I had mentioned to several people just in the past few days how I thought it was ruining college football.
That was too dramatic. It isn't most likely doing that. But it certainly can ruin your day, maybe your season, and keep some deserving kids from having one last shot at winning a game, which made some in the stands do some unsportsmanlike things themselves, like throw bottles on the field.
In the press box during the game as over and over we waited through reviews or waited for somebody to ask for one, I said at least three or four times that the replay review is the worst thing to happen to college football in a long time. That was said mostly out of frustration. I should have saved it for later and changed it a bit. Maybe it's just the worst thing to happen to Ole Miss football in a long time.
I was basing my overstatement on a handful of moments I'd witnessed this season alone. Like the 10-minute wait during the Memphis game for a scoop and score by the Rebels to be reviewed, overturned and celebrated by the Tiger crowd, a touchdown taken back that would have made it 29-7 Ole Miss, and with a PAT, 30-7. A score that would likely have ended that game but instead allowed Memphis to stay in it at 23-7 and almost pull off the upset.
Indisputable evidence? Took 10 minutes. There must have been some debate and discussion – and dispute – if it took that long. Unless there was some technical malfunction of the equipment. Oh for the days of not so long ago in college football when human beings actually involved in the game were the deciders. Not dudes in a glass closet in the press box having so much say.
Guess that assessment is also up for debate. I am sure many among college football's fanbase and hierarchy love it that the games are held up several times each Saturday to get things just right?!?!?!? Bet you can't find a Bama fan today that sings anything but praises for "the indisputable replay review" rule.
What led to more of my disdain for it was watching a couple of young placekickers during this past week in a couple of televised games have to wait out a review of a touchdown BEFORE they could kick the extra point. Officials icing the kicker? I'm sure they didn't mean to. But they did. And one of the scores was clearly a TD. A ref was three feet away staring right at the play.
You somehow get a sense officials are now using the review as a crutch, that they're running scared and don't want to make the decision themselves. Oh for the days......
Both placekickers that had to wait out the replay for the TDs made the PATs. One was in the Pitt-Navy game, the other in the San Jose-Hawaii game. But they had to wait two or three minutes to line up for a PAT, and in both of those dramatic games a missed extra point would have spelled doom for their team.
Nah, I had already told many before the final moments of the Reb-Tide game Saturday that I thought the replay thing was just a bad thing in general. Heck, let the officials on the field decide the game. It's a game played by humans and coached by humans and attended by humans and cheered by humans.
You're going to have officials running scared if they aren't already. Maybe that's why they have so many reviews now. Coaches don't believe in officials, and officials don't believe in themselves.
And talk about running scared, that's what they were doing Saturday as they raced off the field to safety toward the Alabama fans in the southeast corner of Vaught-Hemingway. I was down in that end zone. I know a couple of people who got hit, at least one bloodied.
Maybe it's a societal thing. Maybe it's a cultural thing (do I dare say that this season after the "changing of culture" policy at Ole Miss?).
Nick Saban's had a couple of close calls on his last two visits to Oxford. He left both times with three-point wins. He's never publicly had many nice things to say about his visits.
As the play went under review, I knew what was coming if the play was overturned . "We'll get bombarded," I said out loud to warn others and made my way to the corner near the band and leaned up against a wall, turning to look up to make sure I at least tried to avoid getting hit.
"We don't teach our players to be classless," Saban said postgame. "If they (Ole Miss) want to be classless, that's their business."
Like he thought the Rebel players had something to do with the bottle throwing. Guess you can say what you want at $4 million a year coaching student-athletes the game of college football. Nice deflection, Nick, and that one doesn't need to be reviewed.
Coach O took the high road.
"Those are things that are out of my control. I tend to focus on what I can control, my football team and my coaching staff. Those things are very important to me."
I've been in some tough losing situations covering Ole Miss. The 7-OT loss in 2001 to Arkansas was as draining for players and coaches – and fans – as I'd ever witnessed. It ruined that season. The Rebels, although 7-4 with a win over Alabama, which finished 6-5, didn't get invited to a bowl. Bama did. The Rebels never totally recovered from the 7-OT loss that season.
I recall Deuce and Cutcliffe leaning out on the field house railing at State, watching the celebration in 1999 after the dramatic MSU comeback win. I saw what that loss did to all those players and coaches.
And now this. Coach O and the players said late Saturday they'd be ready for Arkansas, that they've had to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, after a lot of tough losses this year and in the recent past.
Now they have to do it again.
The Rebs might not have won Saturday even if they'd had first and goal at the 4 with seven seconds left. The fade might have been intercepted. Or incomplete and a field goal made, but they'd have lost in OT. Who knows?
But we all should have been able to find out.
Do I hate the replay review more than I should?
Sour grapes anyone?
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