Bowl Mania (of the…yeah, you know the drill) – part 6
Please note: At one point late in the game, the Pinstripe Bowl score was actually Kansas State 28, Syracuse 27. I should have got credit for 35 wins by matching a score exactly; those would have been real bragging rights to have. But I also knew the moment K-State went ahead by 1 that the score wouldn’t stand; the defenses were just playing too pourous.
Speaking of yesterday’s misadventures, this from the normal bowl game banter from my Uncle Dave:
Big 10 officials need to go back to elementary officiating school – two HORRIBLE games tonight. Tenn game was a disaster – as was the K State thing. How dare they call a bowl game at the close w/ such a goofy call as to change the outcome.
In all honesty, I think both officiating crews NEARLY handled what they were faced with as well as they could have. And in both cases, the head referee let their crews down.
I will never forget randomly talking to a soccer referee while committing one of my random acts of geeky tourism in grad school (watching a minor-league soccer game in Hershey, Pennsylvania…yes, such things as minor-league soccer exist, although not in Hershey anymore). He was preparing to call a major youth tournament the following day, and (like any good referee) he had his whistle with him. At some point I asked him what he considered a foul or something, at which point he gave me a look as if to say kid, you don’t understand a thing and then he said “look, when you call a tournament game, this is the first thing you do.” He then showed me his whistle, and then he put the whistle in his pocket.
“The KIDS play. The KIDS decide the game. I don’t.”
The Kansas State salute: yes, I can see why that flag is thrown in the heat of the moment (in the very same way that I can’t blame a kid for a quick moment of exultation in the heat of the moment). By the letter of the rule, what you saw at the end of that game WAS excessive celebration (and next year, that move DOES take the touchdown off the board – we can talk about how wrong-headed that rule is, but it WILL be the rule). It is down to the head referee to know the implications, and that the penalty for excessive celebration would almost CERTAINLY cost Kansas State a chance at the game; that’s down to him to make the fair decision as emotions die down, wave the flag over his head, and say “there is no foul on the play.” The referee doesn’t even have to say what his crewman saw. Think about it for a moment, and tell your crewman “I’m not letting a ticky-tack infraction have that kind of an impact. The KIDS play. The KIDS decide the game. I don’t.”
That does technically ignore the rule, but it’s not like television sets across America were tuned in to a game immediately following where salutes were going off right and left, with little extra bits of hip-hop flair, and people across the fruited plain were muttering under their breath “excessive celebration, 15 yards…excessive celebration, 15 yards…”
And yes, as for the chaos at the end of North Carolina – Tennessee: for the love of all that is holy, man, once you say “the game is over,” then the dad-gum game is over, and it’s ESPECIALLY over when you’re in Nashville and Tennessee is getting declared the winner in front of a partisan crowd! Either you mean those words to be final or YOU DON’T SAY THEM! You say, I suppose, “The play is under review; the ruling on the field is that time has expired” or something equally convoluted – yes, you obscure what you mean, because saying what you mean is the equivalent of shouting “FIRE” in the crowded theater!
Again: every ruling that was made was correct, if NCAA-stupid. Why you don’t expire the clock after an offensive foul as the clock was running with 0:01 remaining is beyond me, but that’s not in the NCAA rulebook. You can snap the ball with that one second remaining with your ENTIRE HUNDRED-MAN SQUAD ON THE FIELD and that’s a five-yard penalty but you get the one second. So again, the guys knew the rulebook and handled the rulings correctly.
But they handled the rulings correctly AFTER their boss said “the game is over.” And then, it doesn’t matter quite so much, does it?
“Here is a trustworthy saying”, said the Apostle Paul: “If anyone sets his heart on being a head referee, he desires a noble task.” (At least, I think that’s what he wrote to Timothy.)
This day is for the Florida schools – all of them but UF itself. And I honestly don’t see why the Outback Bowl has to be played on New Year’s Day; five Florida schools playing bowl games in one day? Tasty.
MEINEKE CAR CARE BOWL
SOUTH FLORIDA (7-5) v CLEMSON (6-6)
My pick in this game is nothing more and nothing less than lack of faith in South Florida. They had their big win towards the end of the regular season against Miami (the result that eventually cost Randy Shannon his job) but couldn’t keep UConn out of the BCS, and generally, South Florida finds ways to disappoint on the back of what should be program-building wins. The deep suspicion is that South Florida will disappoint again.
Of course, I’m picking them to disappoint against a Clemson program that has consistently disappointed since 1981. I don’t claim any fashion of consistency in my takes. CLEMSON 19, SOUTH FLORIDA 13.
NOTRE DAME (7-5) v MIAMI (YES, THAT MIAMI) (7-5)
Burning questions: (1) Did Notre Dame really figure it out when they throttled Utah, Army and USC in succession to close the season, or was it flattery-to-decieve and will they come crashing to earth here? (2) Will Miami rally under Jeff Stoutland, or collapse without their moral compass after Randy Shannon’s sacking?
My suspicion: there’s a lot more evidence to go on with Notre Dame’s late-season prospects than there is with anything in the Miami program ahead of Al Golden’s arrival. Again, in times of trouble, go with what you know. NOTRE DAME 28, MIAMI 14.
UCF (10-3) v GEORGIA (6-6)
Central Florida had a delightful season, and (with the possible exception of the Southern Miss home loss) consistently won every game they were supposed to win. Georgia had a horrific start to the season in the midst of A.J. Green’s suspension, and was very fortunate to finish 6-6 after collapsing against Colorado at the season’s nadir.
And Georgia is point-blank the best 6-6 team in the country, and the whole reason that six wins is deserving of bowl eligibility. I think Aaron Murray is the best quarterback UCF has played all year, and UCF had to face down North Carolina State and Russell Wilson. A.J. Green is certainly the best receiver UCF will have to play. I hate picking 6-6 teams over 10-3 teams – winning ten games in The Division Formerly Known As I-A is HARD, and Central Florida is a very good team – but this is the type of team that makes the populace quake when they hear the letters ESS EEE SEE. GEORGIA 41, UCF 31.
SOUTH CAROLINA (9-4) v FLORIDA STATE (9-4)
With all credit to Jimbo Fisher for getting Florida State back within a shout of the ACC title, this game should be a South Carolina runaway, and it’s easily explained:
(1) With two losses to Auburn – one in the regular season, one in the SEC Champsionship – South Carolina’s four losses are much more legitimate than Florida State’s;
(2) Steve Spurrier can unleash his inner Gator in a bowl game against Florida State, even if he doesn’t quite recognize the guy on the other sideline;
(3) Most importantly, Spurrier has finally found the three plays he needs to turn South Carolina into an SEC powerhouse: Marcus Lattimore left, Marcus Lattimore right, Marcus Lattimore up the middle. MARCUS LATTIMORE 35, FLORIDA STATE 15.
Wait – did I just pick the state of Florida to go 0-4 on New Year’s Eve? I think I did! Maybe UF should stay on New Year’s Day after all.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind…