Listen, I like going on television as much as the next guy, but Saturday during the Baylor-West Virginia game on FOX I was busier than a rooster in a henhouse.
And while I’m certain the rooster would have had a good time, this game was no fun for me – or for the officials.
The final score was West Virginia 41, Baylor 27.
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But the number I want to talk about is 32.
A Big 12-record 32 penalties were enforced in this game: 18 against Baylor for 215 yards and 14 against West Virginia for 138 yards. There were nine penalties called in the first quarter, seven in the second, 10 in the third and six in the fourth. There were a dozen different types of penalties called – everything from holding to pass interference to offsides and even kick-catch interference.
This was one of those games that nobody wanted to be a part of – coaches, players, fans, officials as well as me and my crew at the FOX Network Center.
There was even a leaping penalty called on the last play of the first half on a 54-yard field goal by West Virginia. The referee made an announcement that the penalty would be enforced to open the third quarter … but it wasn’t. One of my observant crew members on twitter – @legacyzebracfb – pointed out that, by rule, it couldn’t be enforced on the second half kickoff. It had to either be declined or penalized 15 yards and the down replayed.
The officials in this game will look back on it and more than likely think it was their worst game of the year, just because of all the crap that happened.
I know one play they’re really not going to like. A play in the second quarter that was reviewed, that’s wasn’t supposed to be.
Here was the situation:
West Virginia had the ball, third-and-15 at its own 39-yard line with 34 seconds left before halftime. West Virginia led 21-20.
West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett completed a 24-yard pass to Andrew Buie to the Baylor 37-yard line. However, the Mountaineers were penalized for an ineligible receiver downfield, because the officials ruled that Buie caught the pass beyond the line of scrimmage. But the replay official buzzed down and reviewed the play and they ended up picking up the flag.
The case book is clear on ineligibles down field: You can’t review them. But what the replay official ended up reviewing was whether or not the pass was caught beyond or behind the line of scrimmage. You can review touching of the pass, but you can’t review where the pass was touched. But the replay official ruled Buie did catch the pass behind the line. That’s a huge reversal that led to a West Virginia field goal at the end of the first half.
This was an awful football game. Too many penalties, too many replay reviews, a replay review of a Baylor 1-yard touchdown run by Shock Linwood where the officials ruled that Linwood’s knee was down before he scored — but it wasn’t even close and they had to reverse it to a touchdown.
And while it was a Big 12 record, the 32 fouls fell four short of the NCAA record by San Jose State and Fresno State in 1986, where the two teams combined for 36 fouls, 24 on the Spartans and 12 on the Bulldogs.
That’s bad, but it did bring back good memories of my dear friend, the late Jack Gatto, who refereed that game. The day after, the story in the paper said Gatto had to be helped off the field because he was so fatigued at the end of the game.
Gatto, who was one the best college referees ever, told me the next day he was absolutely exhausted and dehydrated and barely made it to the locker room. I was an on-field referee then, in the same conference as Gatto: the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference.
I’m just happy I wasn’t in that game. That was ugly then, and Baylor-West Virginia was ugly Saturday. I like being busy, but not like that. I would have rather been the rooster.