I've been around long enough to see many a bad call.
Some have hurt a team I love and are unforgettable. Every time the Stanley Cup playoffs roll around this moment pops into my head. It's easily the second worst moment in Buffalo sports and the reason that my wife will no longer watch the NHL.
Even if the Sabres one day manage to win the Cup it won't make up for the NHL's changing the rules half way through the season, then arbitrarily enforcing it one way or the other after that.
Letting their championship be settled on a bad call will always taste bad.
Other bad calls, well they tickle a bit. The best one I can think of is the Buffalo "safety" against Ohio this past season. It may or may not have had an effect on the game but it was one of those calls that could not be reversed even though it was a terrible ruling by the official.
Being a lifelong Buffalo sports fan I thought I had seen every type of bad call known to man. In my world those calls fit into one of three categories. A bad call, a missed call, and a rule book screw job.
- A bad call is when the official sees something in real time which, "upon further review", did not happen. Like seeing an Ohio quarterback run like a little girl into the end zone when he really just ran to the four yard line like a little girl.
- A missed call is one that in real time gets missed. You always hear the term "A ref can call holding on every play". Well those holdings are missed calls.
- Rule book screw jobs usually happen when everyone in the world knows a bad call was made or missed but the rules prevent correcting the error. An example in football would be reviewing the administration of a penalty. It's why even though the official blew the spot on Ohio's phantom safety they could not go back and fix it.
For the 37 years I had not come across a play which did not fit into one or two of these categories. Then last Friday night a new fourth category emerged thanks to NCAA officials. I'm calling this new category "Why Bother" occurrences. These happens when the officials don't give a damn enough about the game to make the right call.
In the case of this past Friday's game is was a missed call which turned into a "Why Bother" moment.
The missed call was a fumble by Baylor Quarterback Seth Russell during the 4th quarter. At the time there was little question about how the game was going to end. It was 49-14 and Baylor was driving for a score. Russell fumbled the ball which was then kicked back 5 yards.
It looked like Russell jumped on the ball and the officials called a recovery. If you look at the replay he never had the ball and the whistle was not blown until the ball was in the hands of a Buffalo Bull. That part of the event was not particularly bad, I've seen worse calls but usually they are corrected on a replay.
The call was reviewable because of the timing of the officials whistle but the booth decided not to review the play because the game was out of hand. Right after the call Baylor's quarterback ran it in for a long touchdown.
Even the ESPN crew, who agreed that the game was all but over, found that reasoning to be at best flippant and at worst something which should be a punishable offense.
UB was going punch for punch with the number eight ranked Bears in the second half which, if nothing else, was good for the fans who came out on a crisp September night. Yes the game was all but over but for 20 minutes the Bulls were looking good on TV and for their fans.
The players were having fun and gaining experience.
While it was the replay guys who said "it's not worth looking," I still lay the blame at the feet of Greg Blum. Blum was in charge of the crew that made a bad decision and he let it slide. The NCAA should come out and ban using the phrase "outcome not in question" as a reason to not overturn a call.