Saturday, September 23, 2006

US Ryder Cup Woes 2006 - Europe Looks to Win Again

Tim Dahlberg, AP Sports Columnist, in his
September 23, 2006 Yahoo! Sports article
Lehman stays pat with his team, but at what price?
hits the nail right on the head in identifying some of the problems that plague the US Ryder Cup team, which trails 10-6 going into the singles matches.

European retention of the Ryder Cup appears imminent.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Oklahoma - Oregon Football Officiating Debacle

In football, the judges are the officials. How big is their impact? What truly decides football games - the players, the coaches, or the officials?

As Bob's Blog writes (we use Bob since he is avowedly not an Oklahoma Sooner fan):

"The refs missed a tipped pass that resulted in an interference penalty against Oklahoma, and both the refs and the replay officials somehow missed the onside kick that was touched by Oregon before the ball traveled the mandatory 10 yards.

Yet the moment that brings in the ghosts of the Chicago Black Sox and Dick Bavetta: How could the refs not see the onside kick squirt through the pile, past the bodies, before being picked up by an Oklahoma player?

When the OU player handed the football to a ref, who was deep into the process of rewarding possession to the Ducks, comedy mixed with the incompetence

The Pac 10 conference insists that THEIR referees officiate home non-conference games, contrary to the practice elsewhere, where the visiting team's conference supplies the referees. A sceptic might ask, "Is that a part of the "West Coast" offense"?

A study some years ago, I think it was at Princeton University, showed that students of two opposing universities, called to referee videos of a football game between their respective universities, in fact each called disputed plays 2/3 in favor of THEIR own favored team, even though they had sworn to call the game in an unbiased manner. The students did not favor their own college intentionally, but afterwards claimed subjectively that they had called the plays as they saw them, i.e. fairly and impartially, which of course was not the case when objectively viewed.

Similarly, an Oregon official officiating an Oregon game is going to be no different in the subliminal effects of allegiance to his State than students to their universities.
One literally does not see what one does not want to see. We post about this all the time on our various blogs and websites concerning the blindness and closed-mindedness of mainstream science and scholarship. We can compare many average scientists and scholars to the blind replay official in the Oklahoma - Oregon football game.

But yes, the refs do make a big difference in football games. Attorney Tom Kirkendall writes in his blog Houston's Clear Thinkers:

"In this interesting NY Times article, Schatz takes on an issue in regard to NFL games that the NFL hierarchy does not enjoy talking about -- that is, the wide discrepancy in the number of penalties called in NFL games between the various referee crews that call such games....

The NFL promotes the image that its games are decided on the field by the players and their coaches. But Schatz's research is indicating that who referees a particular game may be as big a factor as the participants."

Based on the recent Oklahoma - Oregon football officiating debacle, described more in detail below, we recommend three changes that need to be made in college football:

1) So-called "conference referees" should not be officiating home non-conference games of teams in their conference -rather, it should be the other way around, as it generally is in other football leagues.

2) The stupid onside kick should be removed as a play option as contrary to the spirit of the game - the whole idea of "fairness" after a score by one team is that the other team gets possession of the ball to try do its thing, and this should be actual possession of the ball and not the rule currently in vogue that the kickoff merely has to travel a mere 10 yards and then be open for a free-for-all for both teams to claim - it is a stupid rule and it gets stupid results. Football is reduced to pot-luck rather than skill.

3) When such clearly faulty replay officiating - in spite of the clear evidence of the video - result in the game winner being changed, the game should be declared null and void and replayed later in the season, and that is what should be done with the Oklahoma-Oregon game, which will otherwise haunt the BCS bowl selections clear through this season, to the detriment of all college football. With the Oklahoma-Oregon game unvoided, the football season will have a terrible taint, which it does not deserve, as being a serendipity affair decided by poor officiating.

In the present case, the referees presumably did not make these erroneous calls intentionally. Rather it was surely the subliminal effect of allegiance at work.

Bud Withers at the Seattle Times in Blown calls stoke Pac-10 firestorm generally discusses the controversy involved. The calls were so bad that the Pac-10 has suspended the officials involved for one game. As written by Jack Carey and Thomas O'Toole at USA TODAY, in an action taken apparently in response to a letter written by the President of the University of Oklahoma to the Big 12 Conference Commissioner:

"The fallout from controversial officiating and instant replay decisions in Saturday's college football game between Oklahoma and Oregon continued Monday when the Pacific-10 Conference suspended for one game the field officials and instant replay crew and apologized to the Sooners."

But of course, Oregon can still laugh all the way to the bank with that kind of an ineffectual penalty, which accomplishes nothing. No one should be penalized, rather, incorrect practices have to be revised and incorrect results have to be voided. The required solutions are clear.

The Associated Press in Dispute with Pac-10 could affect Oklahoma-Washington series writes:

"Oklahoma would consider canceling its game at Washington in 2008 if the Pacific 10 Conference doesn't change its rule requiring league officials to be used at its home stadiums, Sooners coach Bob Stoops said today.

The Sooners lost 34-33 at Oregon on Saturday, and Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen has since said that two incorrect calls by the league's officials on Oregon's behalf changed the outcome of the game.

As written by Wendell Barnhouse at the Mercury News of McClatchy Newspapers (San Francisco, Bay Area, Silicon Valley) in Oklahoma-Oregon mess shows a major need for change:

"Saturday's travesty in Autzen Stadium pointed out several flaws in how the sport's whistle-blowing flag throwers are managed. Each of the 11 Division I-A conferences supervises its own officiating crews. The officials are assigned and evaluated by the league offices.

That means the officials are branded as "Big 12 refs" or "Mountain West refs." Also, each conference evaluates its officials differently. The Big 12, for instance, charts every play and penalty called in every game worked by its referees. Each week, every Big 12 official receives a DVD showing the good, the bad and the uncalled.

The Oklahoma-Oregon game was officiated by a Pac-10 crew. Typically in non-conference games, the visiting team uses officials from its own conference. That provides the visiting team with a subliminal security blanket.

The Pac-10, though, doesn't play by those rules. In non-conference games, its officials work home games, and, when Pac-10 teams go on the road, the home team's conference refs work the game

The amazing thing is that not only was the replay incorrectly called by the referees - the replay clearly shows that an Oregon player touched the ball before it went 10 yards on the onside kick - but it was not Oregon but an Oklahoma player who actually recovered the ball, and yet, the refs awarded the ball to Oregon: see Football Outsiders and the many reader comments to the Oklahoma - Oregon debacle and related topics.

An interesting somewhat sceptical posting on the Oklahoma-Oregon debacle is in our opinion found at the blog Coffee Swirls in the category Spiritual Growth & Football, from which we excerpt the following:

"What I do want to talk about is the travesty that was the ending of the Oklahoma/Oregon game. You may have seen this game that will forever go down in infamy. If not, consider yourself fortunate....

Toward the end of the game, Oregon was attempting an onside kick. By rule, the ball must travel ten yards before a player of the kicking team can touch it. Nobody bothered to tell this to the Ducks and somebody must have forgotten to explain this to the referees, because even after the instant replay, they let the play stand, though the ball did not go that far before being touched by an Oregon player. Why have rules if they are not to be enforced? And why have referees if they can’t tell when a ball has gone ten yards, even with slow motion playback? Oregon ball.

As the Ducks mounted their comeback, there was a play when the quarterback threw the ball and it was tipped by a defensive lineman. How do I know this? Because it changed direction and went from a spiral to a wobbly throw. I don’t care how good your curveball is, footballs do not change direction or motion in flight unless they are acted upon by an outside force, such as a defensive lineman getting his hands up. Down the field, a Sooner defensive player hit a Duck before that same ball got to him and was called for pass interference. That would have been a fine call, except for the fact that the ball was touched at the line of scrimmage. Instant replay was not able to provide “conclusive evidence” that the ball had been tipped and the call stood. Oregon ended up scoring and Oklahoma couldn’t score again. The home team got the win that they never should have had.

That’s kind of how it works in this world of ours. Rules and laws are meant to be broken, just so long as some minor detail can’t be discerned by one with no discernment. And sometimes, the one with the least discernment is the only one who’s opinion matters in the question of how the result will be listed. Atrocities are committed according to the letter of the law no matter how ridiculous the determined result looks on paper. Perhaps the referee couldn’t see clearly that the ball was tipped, but he could easily see the result of a tipped ball as the motion and direction of the ball was changed. "

For other voices on this topic, see:

Ducks Blog
Huskies Football
Tuxi's Blog (very fair and balanced posting from an Oklahoma Sooner alumnus)
Sports Column Blog
The Wizard of Odds
Yahoo! Answers
Mann's Sporting Blog at SportingNews
Referee Chat Blog
AOL Sports Blog

UPDATE, November 25, 2006

Here is a strange story in which the 2006 Oregon-Oklahoma game replay official who blew the call on the onside kick possession at the end of the game between the two teams early in the season, which gave Oregon the game as a gift, acknowledges that he knew that Oklahoma had recovered the football, but could do nothing about it, since it was not permitted by the replay rules. Weird.

Monday, September 18, 2006

USC and the Huskers - Fear Rather than Respect

As a University of Nebraska alumnus, we follow the "Big Red" Husker games with more than the normal amount of interest. We were Devaney and Osborne fans. But we were opponents of Solich and are opponents of Callahan as NU head coach.

Illustrative of Callahan's failings is the recent game against USC, which shows that fear rather than respect marked the game plan and the play-calling on the NU side.

Studies show that the only statitiscally measurable difference between champion athletes and non-champions of similar ability is fear. Champions have no fear, non-champions are afraid. Champions are not worrying about losing, they are concentrating on winning. Non-champions are afraid of losing, and they are thus - logically - less focused on winning.

The same seems to apply to head football coaches. In the USC game, NU head coach Callahan apparently was resigned from the beginning to losing and apparently geared his general game plan to minimize his losses, going for time-consuming rushing football to try to keep the ball away from USC as long as possible. That is a losing mentality. We do not know who called the NU plays, but it was a disaster. Random selection of plays out of a hat would have fared better.

What else can explain that Nebraska - for whom Callahan allegedly has installed the supposedly go-go West Coast Offense" - ran 36 rushing plays for an average gain of only 1.9 yards and threw only 17 passes (of which 9 were completed) for an average gain per pass thrown of 8.4 yards, with no interceptions.

Do the Huskers have no one on their coaching staff these days anymore who can do the math of simple arithmetic. If you are gaining 8.4 yards per pass play and 1.9 per rush, then you are gaining more than four times more per pass play than you are gaining rushing per rush, so that any idiot, football-wise or otherwise, could correctly note that something is amiss at the NU head coaching level when, as in the USC game, 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust football is being played, when the air should be filled with passed footballs, as one would expect from a spread offense.

When one compares USC statistics with NU statistics, it is apparent that USC head coach Carroll won this game through better play-calling. His Trojans threw TWICE as many passes as NU - and these were the difference in the ball game - even though their average gain per pass thrown was less than that of Nebraska. And yet, the play-calling at NU concentrated on rushing against a USC stonewall defense. That is simply poor coaching.

Worse, NU's first three possessions each began with the same play calls - two rushing plays followed by a passing play. USC was most certainly not perplexed by this crude and ineffectual simplicity and predictability of play-calling. People get payed to call plays like this?

By contrast, USC passed 6 of 9 times on first down in starting its ball possessions. USC was there to win.

On NU's 3rd possesion, the ball was on the USC 36 yard line, 4th and 10. Perhaps Devaney or Osborne would have punted here too, but we doubt it. NU, instead of going AT the opponent, ducks its head, and punts. Of such stuff are champions not made.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Tennessee Titans Poorly Coached

Tennesse had a chance to win the game against the New York Jets in the fourth quarter but the Titans coaching staff stuck with QB Kerry Collins, who had not gotten the ball into the end zone the entire game - so what made the coaches think he was going to get it into the end zone in the last minute of the game? Wishful thinking makes bad coaches and losing football teams.

If the Titans coaches were winners,in our opinion they should have run the final series of downs with Vince Young, who might have gotten them into the end zone by pass or run. To win, you have to make the right choices. Fisher and Co. at Tennessee made the wrong choices and lost a game which could easily have been won. A QB who can find the end zone will find it during the game, and if he does not, he is not likely to find the end zone when the game is on the line in the final seconds.

Buffalo University Athletics Skyward Bound - Racial Diversity in NCAA Division I-A Athletic Administration and Coaching

This posting is especially geared to all of our friends in Waterloo and the Finger Lakes District of New York State. Great football is coming your direction. "Husker" football has arrived.

In our opinion, Buffalo University has hit the jackpot with their new football coach.

The University of Buffalo recently hired former Nebraska Cornhusker quarterback and former NU assistant coach Turner Gill as the head coach of the Buffalo Bulls, who went 1-10 in 2005. Gill came to Buffalo directly from the Green Bay Packers. In addition the Bulls will have Brian Mohnsen (University of Nebraska 1991 graduate) as coach of the linebackers.

Under Gill's tutelage, Buffalo started this year out with a thrilling overtime win over Temple (also rebuilding with new coach Al Golden), and just lost a thrilling three overtime heartbreaker to a certainly more talented Bowling Green team.

Overtime means battle.

The Falcons put up more than twice as much total offense as the Bulls did, but were still lucky to win. That shows top coaching on the Buffalo side. Even a poor coach can win with top talent. A good coach should win with equal talent. But a great coach has the capacity to compete against superior talent while coaching a theoretically weaker team.

The personable Gill is known as a great recruiter and judged by the hearty performance of the Bulls against the Falcons, where such a performance always shows strong team motivation and excellent coaching, the Buffalo fortunes are surely on a strong upswing for this and future years.

Buffalo has now become a unique NCAA Division I-A university in terms of racial diversity at the level of athletic administration. As written by the Associated Press (AP) at ESPN:

"The University at Buffalo has emerged as the nation's athletic model for racial diversity: the first Division I-A program to have blacks holding three high-profile posts. Gill joins athletic director, Warde Manuel, the former Michigan athletic administrator who was hired a year ago, and Reggie Witherspoon, who has turned around a struggling men's basketball program since being named coach in 1999."

In our opinion, that kind of a constellation is going to bring in a lot of athletic talent, you better believe it. When you add Gill's recruiting skills to the picture, you have a winner. We look for the Buffalo football team to become a MAC AND national championship contender within the coming seasons. It could only happen in "blizzardy" Buffalo - which, we have discovered, has a much maligned reputation, having more sun and less rain than much of the rest of New York State.

Of interest is that Gill is coaching in the same MAC (Mid-American Conference) division as former Nebraska coach Frank Solich, who coaches Ohio. The two teams meet this year in Ohio on October 21.

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