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Archive for Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Keegan: Bad call shouldn’t tilt polls

September 20, 2006

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The rules are in place, and nowhere in the rules does it say that when an officiating crew is so totally incompetent as to blow a call that gives the wrong team the victory, then the game can be erased from the record books.

Therefore, the official record must show that Oklahoma lost by a point to Oregon on Saturday when a replay official inexplicably didn't reverse a bad call. An Oregon player clearly touched an onside kickoff before it traveled 10 yards, and everybody at home could see that on the replay, yet the official couldn't? Strange. The call was so rotten that the entire Pac-10 crew was suspended for a game by the conference, an admission of incompetence.

Oklahoma has a 2-1 record now, and Oregon is 3-0. Nothing can change that. Oregon is ahead of Oklahoma in the polls. That's what can change, and that's what must change for a measure of justice to be served.

Three factors determine the BCS standings. The ESPN coaches' poll, the Harris Interactive Poll and the computer rankings each count for a third in the BCS formula.

Unfortunately, the Associated Press, citing a conflict of interest over voting on a sport it covers, backed out and was replaced by the Harris poll, which has 114 voters, a panel of former coaches and college administrators and current and former media members.

Each voter needs to look in the mirror and ask: Will I trust a replay official's lying eyes or my own, which clearly show that Oklahoma won the game?

The knee-jerk response that Oklahoma shouldn't have won the game anyway, blowing a 13-point lead with less than two minutes remaining, is beside the point. If the right call - the call that every impartial viewer watching at home would have made - had been made, Oklahoma would have taken possession, then taken a knee and let the clock expire.

The voters didn't look at it that way. Shame on them. The coaches ranked Oregon 12th, Oklahoma 16th. They need to flop those rankings next week. The Associated Press has the Ducks ranked 13th, the Sooners 17th. The Harris poll doesn't begin until later in the season.

It has been interesting watching from afar the reactions from many of the parties involved in this flap. For example, Oklahoma president David Boren wrote a letter to Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg that, among other things, suggested Weiberg should do what he could to see that the game not be counted as either a loss or a victory for Oregon and Oklahoma. It helps to remember Boren is a former politician. He knew that stance would play well with his constituency, which of course is Oklahoma students, alumni and subway alumni. Once a politician, always a politician.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, on the other hand, has been right on target.

"We have to sit here and deal with the loss and not have the satisfaction of being 3-0 and improving our position in bowls and everything else when clearly it was not correct what happened," Stoops said.

He went on to say he's not being a whiny baby. You know what? He's right. He's going to bat for his players for working hard for him, winning a game for him, however imperfect their performances, only to see it stolen by a man who needs to visit the eye doctor.

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