Replaygate, Southern style
They’re mad down on the bayou, too.
While the attention in Oklahoma and Oregon and most of the nation has been on the botched calls that cost the Sooners a win, another controversy has been brewing in the SEC.
Last Saturday, in a game with conference and national title implications, Auburn held off LSU 7-3 in Auburn, Ala., with the aid of a questionable replay review in the closing moments. And LSU fans, coaches and administrators aren’t happy.
Sound familiar? Here’s how it went down.
Twice in the fourth quarter, decisions on pass interference calls went against LSU. On fourth-and-8 in the final moments, an Auburn defensive back was called for interference, but the flag was waved off because officials determined the ball had been tipped.
However, there was a question as to whether the interference occurred before the ball was tipped, which would have made it a penalty, anyway.
The SEC has been known to issue rulings critical of officials’ calls. But this time, the league’s supervisor of officials supported the refs, saying the call was correct because the ball was made uncatchable by the tip.
“The timing of the tip didn’t come into play,” supervisor of officials Rogers Redding told reporters.
And that caused LSU athletic director Skip Bertman to go Boren: I mean, ballistic. He issued a statement saying, “We respectfully but strongly disagree (with the SEC office). We strive for excellence every day in LSU athletics, and we expect the same level of excellence from the officials that are assigned to us by the SEC.”
Giving back the win: Colorado didn’t forfeit its win in the infamous Fifth Down game of 1990. Oregon’s not about to give back its win in the instantly infamous Replaygate game of last Saturday — and no one really expects the Ducks to do so.
But at least for the fifth down, there was some precedent for forfeiture.
Back in 1940, Cornell beat Dartmouth with a touchdown pass completed on a fifth down.
When the error was discovered, Cornell’s players, coaches and athletic director agreed a forfeit was the right decision. They sent Dartmouth word by telegram; since then, both programs have regarded it as a win for Dartmouth, a loss for Cornell.
Opposite sides: During Tulsa’s game Saturday at Navy, one good friend will try to sack another.
Navy linebacker Tyler Tidwell, who led the Midshipmen with 10 sacks — a school record — in 2005, grew up with Tulsa quarterback Paul Smith. As sophomores, they helped Deer Creek to the state championship.
Smith later moved to Owasso when his father, Ron Smith, took the head-coaching position there.
Tipping ’em off: Formerly ubiquitous broadcaster Brent Musburger has come under fire from USC. It seems during ABC’s broadcast of the Trojans’ win over Nebraska, Musburger revealed a signal used by quarterback John David Booty to communicate with his receivers.
Booty waggles his hand in the Hawaiian “hang loose” sign to tell receivers he sees man-to-man coverage. Musburger learned this during a meeting with USC players and coaches last Friday, the day before the game.
Those meetings, and the insider tips, are standard operating procedure before telecasts. But much of the information imparted there is understood to be private. USC sent a formal complaint to ESPN/ABC and to the Pac-10 office.
Tough times in Miami: Oklahoma’s own Larry Coker is feeling the heat in South Florida, where his Miami Hurricanes have lost four of their last six games.
The most recent came at Louisville, by 31-7. After that, Miami dropped from the AP Top 25 for the first time in nine seasons.
And this week, Coker has been forced to fend off questions about his future.
“I’m not really concerned about job security,” Coker told reporters. “I’m really not. I’m concerned about getting our football team back to where it needs to be and winning football games. If we do that, job security will take care of itself.”
Tallahassee, too: Coker isn’t the only Sunshine State coach getting criticism. After Florida State’s narrow escape of Troy and a loss to Clemson, Bobby Bowden isn’t immune.
One Florida State alumnus has created www.retirecoachbowden.com.
But Darrell Frink told the Tampa Tribune the Web site’s message is nuanced. He’s not trying to run off college football’s winningest coach.
“We’re not a fire Bobby Bowden Web site,” Frink told the newspaper. “We want to see him go out with the grace he deserves. I’m saddened by the whole thing. I just don’t think he is making good decisions the last five years. I would tell my father that.”
Exploring alternatives: Much has been made of the fact that the replay officials involved in the controversial calls that sunk OU are Oregon residents. Now comes the revelation that David Cutaia, the referee, went to high school with Oregon coach Mike Bellotti.
And OU’s Bob Stoops is threatening not to play at Washington in 2008 if Pac-10 officials are used.
All of which has coaches around the country offering suggestions to help avoid the appearance of evil. During the Big Ten’s weekly teleconference, Michigan’s Lloyd Carr offered up the idea of creating a national pool of officials who could be used for nonconference games, thus eliminating any hint of bias.
“It’s an option that needs to be explored,” Carr said. “If they can do it, I think it’d be one of the real positives. … I don’t care who you are or where you are, you run into some of those issues. It’s human nature. People are affected by the crowds.”
Harsh reaction: OU president David Boren’s public statements about the Oregon fiasco have drawn negative reactions from around the country. ESPN.com’s Pat Forde noted OU coach Bob Stoops thanked the president for his support and said, “President Boren is the absolute best president a head coach can have.”
But Forde wonders: “The question is whether (Boren is) the best president a math professor can have.”
Slaton’s wrist: Maybe you’ve noticed West Virginia’s Steve Slaton, a tailback who is very, very fast? Turns out, he’s also pretty tough.
Slaton has been playing for almost a year with a painful right wrist injury. Slaton injured the wrist last November, and it hasn’t fully healed. Doctors suspect a small bone is broken or dislocated, but can’t be sure without surgery.
Slaton has done OK. Since the injury, he’s averaging 157.3 yards and 25 carries in seven games. West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez told the Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette he’s been concerned opponents might take cheap shots at the wrist.
“But you’ve got to catch him first,” Rodriquez said.
The reason: While working on a story about Colorado’s approaching loss to Georgia, a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution might have uncovered the reason for the woeful state of Colorado’s program.
You know Ralphie IV, the live buffalo mascot?
He’s a she.
Instead of Ralphie, how about Ralphia?