It is not a good night to be in Husker Nation. Fans have erupted with comments about the officiating after Nebraska’s loss to Texas A&M. Some people are saying they are cancelling trips to the Big 12 Championship game in Dallas because if the Huskers make it they feel the officials will work to put Nebraska on the losing end. I have shared my thoughts on the game and tried to reason with some people and I have been told that I “have changed”, I’ve been called an Aggie and I have been called a diplomatic. I have even had comments deleted that were in no way negative, but honest.
I am writing this to set the record straight on my thoughts about tonight’s game. Somewhere in commenting on facebook statuses a person’s comments can be misconstrued and misunderstood.
For the record, I was born in Nebraska. I have always been a Husker fan and always will be. The problem is being honest about a game, after a loss, at the wrong time.
I do not defend the officials in the game for the most part (I will share one defense later, keep reading). I believe the officials made calls that influenced certain drives, but I refuse to agree that the officials decided the outcome of the game. Evidence of this thought can be found in Nebraska’s final scoring drive. A penalty pushed the Huskers back to their own five yard line, but the Huskers went down the field and got a field goal. So yes, it influenced the drive, but they overcame the negative yards. The problem was they didn’t do it enough.
Nebraska had two drives end in an interception. Both were inside A&M territory, while one was inside the 10-yard line. The interception inside the 10 was an absolute killer. It essentially took points off the board for the Big Red. You have to assume Nebraska can at least get a field goal if held out of the end zone. That would have been a big three points and could have been seven at that point in the game.
There were dropped passes, unsportsmanlike penalties, missed opportunities – things that cannot be blamed on the officials. The officials made some calls that were called “questionable” on the ABC telecast. And some calls by the officiating crew were, indeed, questionable calls.
I will defend the officials in one situation and one situation only. It comes on the two penalties called on Nebraska’s Ben Cotton. There should be no argument from anyone that Cotton wasn’t deserving of the penalties because he was. However, with that said, I would have done the same thing. One of the A&M players was grabbing at him in the lower region and I don’t fault Cotton for what he did. I read someone’s comment that said, “Go ahead and punch me in the balls, the refs will flag me for it.” The problem with the statement is Cotton was flagged for his retaliation and for taking off his helmet, which ARE penalties. My defense for the officials is this; the only reason people know what happened is because of replay, slow motion and pictures. When it first happened we had no idea what was going on. The same is true for the officials. They simply cannot see some of that activity, but you can clearly see the retaliation of Cotton.
The video of that play needs to be submitted for review by the Husker Athletic Department to the Big 12 Conference. Perhaps nothing will be done about it, but it is worth the attempt. That was a cheap play and should not be in the game (even though it happens on every fumble that results in a pile). Mr. Beebe should suspend this young man for his actions. It was wrong. But retaliation still warrants a penalty, like it or not.
Players cannot always control what the officials are going to call and what they aren’t going to call. Look back on everything the team could control and see if they did all of that right. If they did then you have grounds to blame the officials.
My point tonight was to try and point out that a game lasts 60 minutes and you have to look at the entire game to see where the difference in the game is. Did officials influence drives with penalties? Absolutely. Were some calls questionable? Absolutely. Did Nebraska make mistakes that cost them opportunities to put points on the board? Yes.