bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Refs don’t know the rules at the Iron Bowl

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One of the favorite pastimes of sports fans is complaining about officiating. I like nothing better than yelling at the television in anguish as a referee makes brutal call after brutal call. Well, let me qualify that. I like well-officiated games the best, and I really hate when one of my teams gets screwed by a terrible call, so I shouldn’t really say that I like all the yelling. However, watching sports would not be the same for me if I didn’t get worked up and indignant a time or two while doing so. If I am watching a game in which I have no real rooting interest, especially, it really does add to my enjoyment, although it may not do the same for the people around me at the time. On Saturday night, Alabama played Auburn in a game that is known as the Iron Bowl. There were several bad calls and confusing situations in this one, but the worst one involved a “simultaneous catch” in the second half.

Late in the third quarter, Auburn was up 33-27. They were moving the ball downfield when quarterback Nick Marshall threw a pass down the sideline to receiver Quan Bray. Bray went up for the ball, as did Crimson Tide defensive back Bradley Sylve. Amazingly, they both got both hands on the ball and came down with it that way. This happens from time to time, and, in fact, had already happened earlier on the same drive. No matter how many times I watched the replay, I could not see that either guy had any kind of upper hand. They landed in-bounds before falling over the line. So whose ball was it? The refs called it a catch for the offense, and Auburn quickly lined up and ran another play before a review could happen. That next play was a four-yard run, and that’s when things went totally bizarre. First, the official announced that the catch was under review. Now, I didn’t understand this at all. I have always been of the belief, supported by television announcers on a regular basis, that once the next play had been run, a replay can no longer happen. In fact, teams constantly rush up to the line in an attempt to snap the ball before the whistle blows for just that reason when a questionable play has occurred.

I immediately started calling shenanigans, suggesting that these crooked officials were allowing the replay because the SEC wanted Alabama to win to ensure that the conference had a representative in the upcoming College Football Playoff, which would have actually been unlikely to occur if Alabama were to have lost. The explanation given was that the replay booth had buzzed down to indicate a review was going to occur, but the officials on the field had been unable to blow the whistle in time to stop the play. I actually never heard the whistle at all, so I still find this suspect. Anyway, my SEC conspiracy theory was immediately debunked by the results of the review that then occurred. After a delay, the referee announced that the simultaneous possession meant that the ball would stay with the offense. The game then continued.

Here’s the thing, though. This ruling was completely wrong. This is not a “tie goes to the runner” kind of situation. The NCAA rulebook specifically addresses this situation, and it says that possession belongs to the player who first touches the ground in bounds during a simultaneous catch that occurs with both players in the air. Sylve had clearly touched the ground first, so it should have been an interception and Alabama’s ball. How did the officials on the field not know that, and how did the replay official not know it either? It seems like if those guys have one job, it’s to know the rules.

Despite the bad call, Alabama came back and beat Auburn by the where-were-the-defenses-score of 55-44. If the SEC is to miss the playoff, which I have to admit I would enjoy, it will require Alabama to lose to Missouri in the league championship game next week.

Bad sports, continued:

2) Josh Perkins, a guard for Gonzaga, was kicked in the face by a player attempting to block a shot during his team’s game against Georgia on Wednesday. His jaw was broken and he is now out indefinitely.

3) An Australian cricket player was fatally injured when he was hit in the throat by a batted ball during a match on Tuesday. Phillip Hughes died on Thursday after remaining unconscious since the injury.

4) That NFL team in Washington continues to stumble, both on and off the field. The team tweeted out a Thanksgiving message that simply did not jive with the giant logo at the top of the picture.

5) Kosta Karageorge, an offensive lineman for Ohio State, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Sunday. He had been missing since Wednesday and had reportedly been suffering from depression after sustaining several concussions.

6) It can’t touch Mark Sanchez’ famed “butt fumble” for sheer hilarity, but Sam Foltz, the punter for Nebraska, came up with a gem of his own on Saturday against Iowa, punting the ball off of the backside of one of his blockers after a bobbled snap.

7) A court ruled that the NFL’s indefinite suspension of Ray Rice was unlawful since it had already suspended him previously for the same offense. Rice was declared immediately eligible. I guess that’s OK, but I’ll be quite surprised and disappointed if someone actually signs him this season.

8) Veteran NCAA referee Rick Crawford was taken off the court on a stretcher in the opening minutes of a basketball game between Vanderbilt and LaSalle in New York on Saturday. He was hit in the face by accident during the opening tipoff and was knocked to the floor.

9) Brennan Clay, who played with Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray at Oklahoma, claimed this week that his wife had an affair with Murray. This should be fun.

Good sports:

1) J.J. Watt is just ridiculous. He scored his fifth touchdown of the season on Sunday in the Houston Texans win over the Tennessee Titans. This was his third score by reception, which is pretty good for a defensive lineman. He also had two sacks, forced a fumble, recovered a fumble, and knocked Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger out of the game. Not too bad of a game.

Bad sports, good sports appears early each week

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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