Monkey in booth spoils great day for Cougs

THE COUGARS resurrected the art of the sack and the timing of the turnover Saturday, and for the first time all season the sustained tension of a contentious football game made for a pleasant afternoon in Martin Stadium. For that I thank the Cougar D. Andy Mattingly, where've you been all year?

I'd like to say the Cougs with the rediscovered stop unit beat Arizona State everywhere but on the scoreboard. But there's another arena where Wazzu was thumped pretty badly. The replay booth.


The booth official is a sham. He should be the court of last resort, the sober judge who counters the hasty element of human error on the field. He, or they, are anything and everything but. Everybody but the official on the scene and the schlumpf in the booth saw it. A textbook touchdown pass, 33 yards from the Cougars' Alex Brink to a diving Brandon Gibson, was waved off.

It was the play of the day, one of the prettiest of this or any season, and it didn't count because an official got it wrong. It was a horrible mistake but the system is set up to right such egregious mistakes.

So, time to call in backup, rustle up the replay boys and reward the Cougars for the touchdown they so richly deserved. From first glance to last replay we saw it on Fox Sports Northwest, Gibson, with both feet in, the ball secure all the way to the turf. Knee down in the endzone. Touchdown Washington State.

The zebra on site didn't see it that way so up to the booth we went, for justice. Turns out there's a built-in problem. There's another official in the booth. An official with a lousy seat. One of the brotherhood who grew up learning how to sell the call.

Pac-10 Conference poo-bahs apparently don't give these guys the advantage everybody else has. Multiple camera angles. The system, we're told, is primitive.

Still? After what Pac-10 officiating did to Oklahoma in that home-job loss they got at Oregon a while back? Why does the Conference of Champions insist on going chintzy in so sensitive a part of game management? Don't we deserve a replay system that works?

We'd get clearer reads from a monkey with a buzzer. Mash the button and a banana pops out, as long as the ruling on the field stands.

I know there is the new rule, the one that says a receiver must hold the ball immediately upon hitting the ground. But Gibson did that.

Catch. Two feet. One knee. Possession. Play over. It wasn't until after two steps and his knee was down that the rest of his body hits out of bounds and the ball comes loose. The official on the field also signified Gibson had been juggling the ball. Replays conclusively proved otherwise. Unfathomable.

And the Pac-10 official on the spot in the replay booth just doesn't over-rule decisions. Either he can't, or won't. Either way it's rotten. Robbed of a touchdown, the Cougars settled for the field goal, thus surrendering four points in a game they lost by three. Seems pretty critical to me.

It happened early. The Cougars had plenty of time to overcome but this team that was finally good enough to overcome its own mistakes wasn't good enough to overcome the mistake of a flawed system run by the visually impaired.

You could do as much with a string of black and white Polaroids. Flip a coin. At least you'd be right half the time. The suggestion here: scrap the replay until the technology is brought up to standard. Put three people up there with every tool gadgetry has to offer. Throw in an ex-coach and maybe a media rep. Three sets of eyes.

Anything is better than what we have. The guy with all the power should have a better view than the gang in the bar and grill. No official enjoys being second-guessed. Tough. Get some second-guessers up there fit for the job, or get rid of the job.

When I realized the call would stand, that replay would fail to recognize the obvious and right the wrong, I flashed on the righteous anger so wonderfully spewed by Chevy Chase in his holiday classic, Christmas Vacation

I wanted the guy in the booth brought right here, with a big ribbon on his head, and I wanted to look him straight in the eye and tell him what a cheap, lying, no-good rotten four-flushing low-life snake-licking dirt-eating inbred overstuffed ignorant blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, hopeless heartless fat-assed bug-eyed stiff-legged spotty-lipped worm-headed sack of monkey dung he is.


I'm not sure that does anything for Bill Doba and his football team but I feel a lot better.

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