Tuesday, September 13, 2016

From man to whiny sore loser

Last Saturday the Central Michigan Chippewas traveled to Stillwater and upset the #22-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys on a miraculous final play that shouldn't have even happened. Due to an officiating error, CMU was granted an untimed down at the end of the game, and made the most of it with a ridiculous Hail-Mary-and-lateral play to score a touchdown and win the game, 30-27.

Although it was later determined that the referees made a mistake, the score of the game will stand. OSU head coach Mike Gundy - who, for the record, is a MAN! - isn't happy about it. Gundy claims that the officiating crew was inferior because it was from the non-Power Five Mid-American Conference (where CMU plays), and from now on he won't play any games at home against non-Power Five schools unless he gets to use his own conference's officials.
"In a contract with a Power 5 school, you're going to exchange officials on your one-to-one games. Otherwise, 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."

Gundy said he doesn't want to "disrespect" officiating crews that don't operate in Power 5 conferences, but after Saturday's outcome, he said he won't use them in Stillwater again.

"The best ones will be at [the Power 5] level," he said. "When we're playing in these games, we need to use our officials. Or we don't sign a contract."
There are several problems with Gundy's whiny rant.

First, the arrogant assumption that Power Five conference have better officiating crews. Gundy doesn't mention that the officials in the replay booth were (supposedly superior) Big 12 referees, who could have called down to reverse the call in the event of an "egregious error" but failed to do so (both the MAC crew and the Big 12 replay officials have been suspended for two games because of the error).

Second, Gundy's demand that he get to use his own Big 12 officials from now on appears to be a breach of what seems to be standard for contracts between out-of-conference schools (wherein the visiting team gets to bring their conference's officials).

But third and most importantly, Gundy is simply scapegoating the referees in order to overcome his own failures in coaching this game. Yes, the referees made a mistake. But here's the thing, coach: they shouldn't have been in that position to begin with!

The Cowboys were playing at home and were favored by 19.5 points over the Chippewas; this really shouldn't have even been a contest. At one point OSU led by two touchdowns, but they couldn't put Central Michigan away and let them back into the game. CMU actually led at one point in the fourth quarter; in fact, they outgained Oklahoma State in total yardage (even before the last-second score) and led in time of possession.

We see this time and time again in college football: when you let these scrappy, upset-minded teams hang around, weird things can happen. Mike Gundy, of all people, should know this. It's his job as coach to make sure his players are prepared, even for what was supposed to be a "cupcake" game against a lesser opponent. The Oregonian's Ken Goe notes:
...[I]f Gundy's team had played to its reputation, Oklahoma State would have been comfortably in front in the fourth quarter, not frantically trying to protect a three-point lead.

College football games are played by imperfect athletes, coached by imperfect coaches and officiated by imperfect officials.

As David Wharton of writes in the Los Angeles Times, controversial calls happen in college football. So get over it.
Instead of taking responsibility for his own failures as head coach last Saturday,  Mike Gundy is, in effect, issuing a blanket indictment against the competence of every college football referee that happens not to work for a Power Five conference. And that makes Mike Gundy look less like a man, and more like a butt-hurt, sore loser.

(Oh, and by the way: No. 22 Oklahoma State's loss to Central Michigan was just its second non-conference home game loss under Mike Gundy (who is 25-2 overall). The other loss? Yup!

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