What Is The Score Of The Michigan State Football Game College Football’s First Controversial Call of 2008 May Have Cost Washington a Huge Upset

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College Football’s First Controversial Call of 2008 May Have Cost Washington a Huge Upset

Taking University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker out of a college football game is like taking Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant or LeBron James out of the National Basketball Association, or taking Tom Brady out of the National Basketball League. American Football, but that’s what happened last Saturday. (9-6-08) in Seattle.

A controversial unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Jake Locker was a top topic of conversation over the weekend by fans, coaches, play-by-play announcers, sportscasters and officials in 49 of the 50 states. A poll revealed that the only state that agreed to the call was Utah.

That was because it was the No. 15-ranked Brigham Young University Cougars who benefited from the call, coming just out of Husky Stadium with a 28-27 victory. Utah is the home of BYU.

Pacific-10 Conference umpire Larry Farina leveled Locker’s 15-yard penalty for flipping the ball airborne after scoring a touchdown with 2 seconds remaining in the game. A successful extra point attempt by Washington would have tied the game at 28 all.

The penalty made Dawg’s extra point attempt a 35-yard effort instead of a 20-yard attempt. More importantly, he unsettled a team of young and inexperienced players, allowing the try to get blocked as time expired, ending what could easily have been an overtime game.

We’ll never know if the extra point attempt would have been made from 20 yards out because the referee effectively took the game out of the hands of the players and coaches in favor of interpreting the rule book to the letter.

Obviously embarrassed by the call to reflection, and by the reaction from fans and players after the game, referee Larry Farina issued this statement in defense of his call:

“It is a rule of celebration that we are obliged to call. It was not a trial,” Farina told media representatives.

David Perry, the national college football officiating coordinator, thought differently. While he was saying the call was correct (according to the rules), Perry added that ALL calls are judgment calls. Amen, David, amen.

Clearly, Jake Locker wasn’t making fun of any BYU player. He was not looking at any BYU player, nor was he throwing the football to any BYU player, nor was he speaking to any BYU player, nor was he waving to any BYU player. He was just excited to score a touchdown on the last possible play of the game to create a game-tying opportunity to settle the outcome in overtime.

Even the national college football officiating coordinator conceded that the penalty could not have been called if judgment was exercised, saying, “I think it’s safe to say that in emotional moments the officials could become a little more forgiving.”

Of course, Brigham Young’s coach, Bronco Mendenhall, fully agreed and defended the decision. Why not? It was in his best interest to do so. Even Washington coach Ty Willingham initially agreed with the call, siding with the referee. On Monday, Willingham, perhaps the nicest, most politically correct and polite coach in college football, had a change of heart.

“I think we all know it wasn’t the right call,” Willingham said. “Proper judgment was not used. That was not the act of a young man taunting. That was not an unsportsmanlike act at all. It should have been seen in its entirety and not just isolated as the letter of the law.”

Thank you, Ty, for going to bat for your most important player, one of the most exciting and talented players in college football today. Thank you for coming out to bat for his team, for the University of Washington and for fans everywhere who reacted to the unwarranted call.

It’s the officials and head umpire who set the standard for fair play in any game, and in this case, Larry Farina could have made a better decision.

In the Husky Nation, there is no rest for the weary. Washington, now 0-2 after facing No. 18-ranked Oregon and No. 15-ranked Brigham Young to open the season, will host No. 3-ranked Oklahoma next. Rather than add insult to injury by sharing with you how much trouble Washington will have to beat Oklahoma, here’s all you need to know:

Oklahoma is 783-295-53 in its 114th football season. The Sooners have won 7 Associated Press National Championships, 41 Conference Championships, 24 bowl games, gone undefeated 14 times, have an NCAA record 30 (yes, 30) 10-win seasons and have set the record for the NCAA big school with a 47-game winning streak from 1953-1957.

Oh! Good luck, Washington, and good luck. I will try to remember them in my prayers, knowing that it’s okay to pray for a win like it’s up to God, but it’s much better to act like it’s up to you (the Huskies). They find in Oklahoma that the bigger, faster and more talented Sooner players are, the better the Dust Bowl sentence works.

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

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