They say everything’s bigger in the state of Texas — and that must include lightning strikes.
It appears Mother Nature was a little upset with the Lone Star State Saturday for two of the games that were being televised by FOX.
The longest delay occurred in the Texas-TCU game in Ft. Worth with the game suspended because of lightning for more than 2.5 hours. The lightning, which had been in the area prior to the game, got close enough for them to delay the game at 6:07 of the second quarter with Texas leading 17-7.
Earlier in the day, the start of the Oklahoma-Texas Tech in Norman, Okla., game was delayed for 1:15, a great game that was eventually won by Oklahoma, 38-30.
Technology now gives everyone at stadium sites a good idea of when spectators and players are in danger. In the Texas-TCU game, when the lightning got close that officials sent the players to the locker room and asked the fans to take cover.
Once that happens, the NCAA rule book provides guidelines for the officials to follow and they won’t restart the game until they are absolutely certain that everybody will be safe. And basically that means 30 minutes after the last lightning strike in the area.
The one thing about football: They will play the games. In fact, in a game in Tulsa in 2011, Oklahoma State-Tulsa was delayed for more than 3 hours and the game didn’t end until 3:35 a.m.
In games where there are weather problems, the officials and the coaches could decide to shorten periods, keep the clock running or even decide to end the game, but it would have to be a game that was so one-sided that the losing team wouldn’t have a chance to catch up.
That certainly wasn’t the case in the Texas-TCU game.
Ultimately the decision falls in the hands of the referee. He will be the guy to decide with input from the weather people located at the stadium, the national weather service and others, but he won’t restart the game until he thinks it’s safe.
The two big weather delays Saturday made me think back to my days at the NFL when I was the VP of Officiating and the most unusual delay I’ve ever been involved with.
It happened on Oct. 19, 2008, in a game between the Chargers and Bills in Buffalo. However, you can’t blame Mother Nature on this one.
Three helium balloons got caught in power wires outside Ralph Wilson Stadium causing it to blow out all of the power inside the stadium. Press box, scoreboards, everything — every bit of power went off.
It was an early afternoon game so there was plenty of light. The problem started about a half-hour before the game was scheduled to start and there really was no certainty of when the power could be restored. So after a delay, a decision was made to play.
Play without television, play without a scoreboard, play without clocks — and it might have been the purest form of football in decades. There were no TV commercials, there were no PA announcements, there was just a football game.
Officials kept the time on the field and it took only 45 minutes to play the first half. The power was restored at halftime but went out again for another 19 minutes before it was restored midway through the third quarter.
For 2.5 quarters, it was football like it used to be played in the ’30s, where you didn’t have all of the pomp and circumstance with the production of a football game you see nowadays.
Oh yeah, just in case you wondered, the Bills ended up winning 23-14.
The NCAA pointed out correctly that when the targeting rule was passed, Arkansas coach Bret Bielema was on the committee, though he no longer is now. They also pointed out the coordinators of officials were involved with the proposal to make the targeting penalty an automatic suggestion. The NCAA also went on to say that Rogers Redding, who is the national coordinator of officials, sits on the committee. So I wanted to make that clear based on their comments to me.
However, it really doesn’t address the point of the article that I still think it’s a lousy rule. The rule has led to a lot of inconsistencies with dramatic ramifications, which includes the suspension of student athletes, who get to play only 13 or 14 games during the course of a season.
So, I understand the player safety issue, but I still stand by what I think — and what most others think — that the rule needs to be addressed and changed.
Eight not enough
The Big 12 is experimenting this season with an extra official, an eighth, with the reason being to give the officiating crew the ability to set the ball up quicker and to get better coverage on the offensive line.
There was a pass interference penalty that took place in the Texas Tech-Oklahoma game that upset several of my twitter followers. Here was the situation:
Texas Tech had the ball, second-and-10 at the Oklahoma 26-yard line with 7:42 left in the first quarter. There was no score.
Texas Tech quarterback Davis Webb attempted a 26-yard pass to Jakeem Grant at the goal line that was incomplete. Oklahoma’s Gabe Lynn was defending and it clearly looked like Lynn was guilty of pass interference. However, it was Texas Tech’s Grant that was called for the interference.
I got the tweet of the day on this play. Even an Oklahoma fan — @SoonerCharley — seemed to identify the error when he tweeted that it was obvious the eighth official was not helping the Big 12.
In reality, the eighth official had nothing to do with this call as he was in the offensive backfield. However, this was clearly an incorrect call. It was defensive pass interference. Lynn grabbed Grant’s jersey and pulled him, not letting him get to the ball. The back judge felt that Grant had pushed off, but he was really trying to knock away Lynn’s hand.
Pass interference is the hardest call on the field to make consistently, but with that being said, this was a big miss.
Instead of Texas Tech having the ball, first-and-10 at the Oklahoma 11-yard line, it became second-and-25 from the 41-yardline. The Red Raiders ended up punting a couple of plays later.