Win or lose, the finality of a game’s outcome means that that the only thing going forward is the next game. That’s the typical reaction and thinking.
What happened Saturday in Stillwater was atypical.
The misapplication and incorrect interpretation of the rulebook allowed Central Michigan to run a play that shouldn’t have happened. That play resulted in an all-time fantastic finish that left Oklahoma State as an undeserving loser.
While it’s Week Three of the season, that result from Week Two still has the college football world buzzing, with the loudest noise coming from Big 12 Country.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy issued a statement Sunday about his team’s bizarre loss. With a strong Pitt team visiting Saturday, he was hoping to put a period on the sentence.
“It’s a waste of time talking about it,” he said Monday on the Big 12 coaches’ teleconference. “I wanted people to know my opinion and I thought I could deflect a lot of this and help us move on.”
For at least Monday, that’s a difficult task. Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolph, whose intentional grounding penalty led to the opponent’s untimed down, had to review recent history when meeting with reporters.
“We shouldn’t have been that close … what’s done is done,” he said.
Central Michigan 30, Oklahoma State 27 even elicited support from the Cowboys’ Bedlam rival.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said the Sooners have the same play in their playbook (only they send a receiver down the sideline, a detail Oklahoma State failed to execute. He also mentioned that in OU’s game with Louisiana Monroe Saturday the officials took about five minutes with a replay review to determine a first down.
“It doesn’t seem fathomable that that happened,” Stoops said.
The on-field officiating crew from the Mid-American Conference has been suspended for two games. Gundy said he’ll lobby his athletic administration to change future contracts for non-conference games. Typically, in a non-league game, the officials come from the visiting team’s conference.
“I would not go into a game without Big 12 officials,” Gundy said.
“We’re playing a school that does not want to use our officials, you move on and find another school. … When we’re playing in these games, we need to use our officials. Or we don’t sign a contract.”
The two-person instant replay crew for the game was supplied by the Big 12. They have been suspended for two games because they failed to notify the MAC crew of the mistake regarding the untimed down.
As the NCAA rulebook currently states, once the officiating crew leaves the field, the result on the scoreboard is frozen. There can be no reversal of the outcome by a higher authority. Last season, Miami’s victory over Duke was controversial because an instant replay review mistake occurred on the game’s final play.
Still, Miami-Duke could have been considered an exercise in bad judgment – human error – by the replay crew. The CMU-Oklahoma State outcome was based on an incorrect application of the rules after the clock read 0:00.
Baylor acting coach Jim Grobe, who served an eight-year term as chair of the American Football Coaches Association ethics committee, said Monday that discussions about a rulebook change for changing an outcome should be discussed.
“In this case, there’s nothing that can be done, there’s not a rule in place that addresses it,” he said. “It has been discussed in the past. Going forward, if there’s a rule in place, you might be able to do something.
“If an actual rule wasn’t followed, that’s something that could be discussed in terms of a rule change involving the outcome. You obviously can’t get into going back and changing officials’ calls during the game.”
Before anyone thinks the Big 12 is crying and moaning over an unjust defeat, coaches in other conferences were also aghast at the outcome.
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema – whose team added to the Big 12’s woes with a double-overtime upset at TCU – said that if his team suffered a loss like the one experienced by Oklahoma State, he would “sit on the field until security removed him.”
Former Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville, who now coaches at Cincinnati, reacted like an Old West hanging judge.
“We’ve been trying to eliminate human error,” he said. “I was on the rules committee when we brought in instant replay. I think it has been great for the sport. Most of the time we get it right.
“The bottom line is (the officials) dropped the ball. This can’t happen. The people involved in this should not be allowed to do games anymore. It really upsets me.”