The Big 12 Conference should be ashamed by what the nation witnessed on the field in Lubbock on Thursday night, and that is not a commentary on Texas Tech’s grey uniforms. The officiating in the game between Texas Tech and TCU was an embarrassment.
The Big 12 added and eighth official to the field this year in an attempt to improve the product for the fans. The prevailing thought was that an extra official would help with the prevalence of the hurry-up offenses in the league.
Apparently the numbers of officials on the field are not as important as the quality of those officials. It is hard to take the Big 12 seriously as a conference when they cannot put a quality officiating crew on the field during a national televised game.
The game in question was a Texas Tech’s 20-10 victory over the No. 24 TCU Horned Frogs. The game was a defensive battle that Texas Tech led 10-3 in the fourth quarter.
TCU wide receiver Brandon Carter appeared to tie the game up at 10 on a punt return. Although no flag was thrown during the return, the officials huddled after the play and decided that Carter had signaled a fair catch before he ran the ball back.
Carter did not give an obvious fair catch signal, but he did move both of his arms away from his body while tracking the ball in the air. It is conceivable that someone may have read that as a fair catch signal.
The officials decided that since they waited so long to make the call, that they would not penalize TCU any yardage for delay of game which is the typical call when a returner runs the ball back after signaling fair catch.
It appears that the Big 12 referees were content to make up the rules as they went during the game. Carter had a punt return for a touchdown called back for a clip earlier in the game.
With the score 17-10 late in the fourth quarter, Texas Tech had the lead and the ball. Tech’s junior running back Kenny Williams appeared to run for a first down when the ball came out and was recovered by TCU.
The officials did not give the ball to TCU, but instead placed it on the ground where Williams was tackled and the Red Raiders lined up to snap the ball. A Texas Tech slot receiver clearly lost his balance and fell to the ground before the ball was snapped.
Tech hurried up and snapped the ball so the officials could not review the fumble by Williams. There was no flag on the play for a false start by the Tech wide receiver.
Then it comes down that the replay booth tried to buzz the officials before they ball was snapped, but the officials did not stop play. The officials took some time to look at a replay of the Williams running play.
It was clear that Williams fumbled the ball before his knee hit the ground. After a few minutes of reviewing the film, the officials decided that the original play would stand and it would be a first down for the Red Raiders.
It was now second down for Tech because they counted the rushed play after the fumble as a play. There was no mention of the false start and no penalty for it.
What is the point of adding an extra official to the game for hurry-up plays like at the end of this game, if they are not going to pay attention and make the obvious calls? What is the point of having instant replay if the officials are still going to miss obvious calls during the replay?
TCU did not lose the game because of the officials. They lost it because their sophomore quarterback Trevone Boykin is still not an accomplished passer.
Tech won the game by 10 points. They made the plays when it mattered most and they deserved to win the game. The issue is not with the outcome of the game.
The issue is that the officiating in the game was so poor that it affected the product on the field. You cannot claim to be a major college football conference while employing officials that miss calls that most middle school referees would make.
The officiating on the field in Lubbock on Thursday night was an embarrassment to the Big 12 and college football as a whole.
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