Texas fans are upset about the officiating in Oklahoma State's 30-27 win Saturday. They have some pretty good reasons to be upset about the officiating in Oklahoma State's 30-27 win on Saturday.
One was this play, when Longhorns DT Poona Ford was called for holding:
Here's the bizarre defensive holding call again. Watch 95 get double teamed, flagged for nothing. pic.twitter.com/hBA0NPHumx— Max Olson (@max_olson) September 27, 2015
This is a horrible call for a few reasons. It's strange enough that defensive holding would ever be called in this situation. Ford is a defensive tackle, and this is a run play. The primary use of the defensive holding call is on defensive backs preventing wide receivers from running passing routes.
Even so, if we were to imagine a hypothetical scenario in which a DT commits defensive holding ... this isn't it. Ford tugs on the jersey of OSU's Michael Wilson, but this isn't holding for two reasons: Wilson is "obviously trying to block," as the NCAA rulebook requires, and Ford's hands are inside the opponents' shoulders.
And worst of all, Ford gets held. Oklahoma State's Victor Salako has his arm all the way around Ford's shoulder and neck, swinging him out of the direction he was trying to go. And yet Ford gets flagged.
And when Charlie Strong protested the call, he got flagged. Like with Ford, there is hypothetically a scenario in which a coach should get called for protesting a call ... and this is not it:
Strong is just doing some typical coach-yelling. There is contact between his body and the official's body, which appears to be why the official throws the flag, but the official is the one who bumped into Strong, not the other way around. It almost looks like the official does so intentionally to come up with an excuse for throwing the flag.
These, plus lesser calls against Texas, have convinced some Texas fans that this was a conspiracy, a rigged game or something along those lines.
Texas fans should know better.
After all, Texas fans should know better than anybody that sometimes, referees make bad calls that swing the tide of victory from one team to another. It happens to the Longhorns all the time, except they're the team that normally ends up winning.
- There was the time in 2013 when Iowa State appeared to strip the ball from Johnathan Gray and then run the ball back for what should've been a touchdown, only to have refs say Gray was down and that there was no indisputable video evidence to overturn the call. That's despite a pretty clean view of Iowa State removing the ball from Gray's hands while he was still standing. Texas scored two plays later, Texas won 31-30, and Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads famously ripped into the refs.
- There was the time in 2012 when Oklahoma State appeared to pop the ball out from Joe Bergeron on a game-winning TD, but since refs called it a TD on the field, it was a TD. The Big 12 reportedly called Oklahoma State after the game to apologize for the blown call (that report was disputed).
- There was the time in 2011 when Texas A&M's Trent Hunter got called for a personal foul on a last-minute play that didn't seem to warrant a personal foul, with Hunter appearing to pull up to avoid contact in the instants after an incomplete pass. That pushed Texas 15 yards closer to the end zone, Texas hit a game-winning FG, and Texas exited its A&M rivalry with a win. After the game, Hunter tweeted an image said to show the official who made the call dressed in Texas gear.
- There was the time in 2009 when Texas got an extra second added to the Big 12 Championship, then kickeda game-winning field goal against Nebraska. That's normally not a task under the officials' purview, but they went back to fix what they deemed an "egregious" error. (To be fair, that pass totally hit the ground with a second left.)
- There was the time Mike Leach got so upset about a holding call that negated a touchdown that he called the Big 12 head of officials during the game, then went on a rant about the sanctity of having Austin-area officials call games involving Texas.
- There was the time Mark Mangino got so upset about a pass interference call that he openly implied refs were rigging the game to clear Texas' path to the BCS.
- There was the time a ref apparently fist-pumped while signaling a Texas touchdown against Colorado.
Am I bringing all these plays up to imply that Texas couldn't possibly have gotten jobbed Saturday? No.
I'm bringing up all these other plays, because, well, refs make mistakes.
Referees are imperfect humans. Fans of every conference are absolutely convinced that the refs who call their games are the worst. They even complain about specific ones the most. Pac-12 refs can't stand Glasses Ref, SEC fans hate Penn Wagers and ACC fans long complained about Ron Cherry.
The officiating crew on Saturday was led by Alan Eck, who was also in charge of last year's Baylor-West Virginia debacle, in which an exasperated Mike Pereira held up the rulebook on camera during the broadcast. In that game, Baylor had 215 yards' worth of penalties, 126.6 more than its season average and 87 more than Texas had on Saturday.
''Apparently there's a rule that I'm totally unaware of, and trust me, that's the first thing I'm going to do when I walk out of here. I'm going to find that rule,'' K-State's Bill Snyder said at the time. ''They did the best they could, it just took them an hour and a half to do it.''
Much of the time, those complaints from Big 12 fans have circled around the failures of Big 12 refs that happen to help the Big 12's biggest school and its most popular team.
Most of the time, referees call football pretty well. A lot of the time, they call it poorly, but poorly both ways. Sometimes, they call it so badly that it helps one team win and another lose. But this happens everywhere.
However, I certainly don't buy it when it's fans of the school that has everything go right all the time going nuts about the one time things go wrong. At least have your conspiracy theories make sense.
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SB Nation presents: The top 3 fake plays from this week in college football