Did the Hawks get hosed in the Outback Bowl yesterday by refs who had a bad day? Probably. But you know what? Iowa didn't deserve to win anyway. The team trailed the entire game, was in danger of being blown out midway through the 3rd quarter, and was behind 31-7 entering the 4th. Its always been my policy to say if you get your ass kicked, the refs are not the reason. Period. In a close game, maybe, but complaining about the refs is never going to win you much sympathy, so its best to just keep it quiet and get out your voodoo dolls in private.
Literally 30 seconds after the refs called the onside kick penalty that ended the Hawks chances, sending me into fits of rage, Cliff showed up early for our podcast recording session, and Dick was right behind him. God wouldn't even let me stew and be pissed for even a full minute. Not fair! I earned that right, dammit!
They couldn't figure out why I wasn't answering the doorbell, and called to see if I was even home. Just needed a minute to take a deep breath, fellas. No harm meant.
Now that I've said what I know is right, here's what I feel, right be damned.
Those pansy ass refs from Conference USA (A Tradition Since 1995! Our Best Teams All Left For Greener Pastures, But We're Still Here! Really!) were as bad as the Sun Belt crew that took so much heat for their "work" in the Nebraska-Michigan Alamo Bowl. I watched that as an unbiased third party, and was upset as a fan of college football that such terrible officiating would take place in a bowl game. Really, go read what I wrote about it
. But as a vested fan in this game, I was appalled.
Chris Spielman is my new favorite commentator for having the balls to call these "refs" out on national TV. I'm sick of commentators staying quiet about the ineptitude of an official is obviously proven by video evidence. People at home are smart enough to figure it out, and will think you're an idiot if you don't point it out. Kirk Herbstreet called the Sun Belt crew on the mat for the crap in the Alamo Bowl last week, and Spielman did the same this time. Props to both of them.
Signal Jamming: what is this exactly? I've watched a helluva lot of football in my 27 years and I've never even heard of this. According to the "refs" (I put that in quotes because I'm not sure they are indeed refs -- its possible they are taste ref rejects from those Miller Lite ads), its a call on the defense for anticipating the snap count, and then barking it out at the same time as the offense to confuse them.
First of all, when the TV announcers have never heard of the call and have to consult a rule book to describe it, well, need I say more? Honestly. Secondly, if you can actually figure out the other teams snap count, and proceed to bark it out in order to confuse the offense, you ought to be commended for ingenuity. Seriously, that's awesome.
Helmet to helmet personal foul: this call allowed Florida to keep the ball moving en route to a late touchdown in the first half. The running into the kicker that proceeded it was iffy, but I've seen it called both ways -- really no quibble there. But the personal foul...when the "victim" wasn't even out of bounds...lets just let a transcript of Spielman from the game broadcast tell it like it is.
Spielman: Wow, wow. Gotta let em play. Iwebema was just trying to play football. That's not a cheap shot.
Spielman: He didn't hit him with his helmet, he hit him with his arm. That's it. Put flags on everybody. Unbelievable! If you can't tackle in football anymore, I don't know what you're going to do.
(Watches replay again.)
You can see that his helmet never hit him. You can see it from up top. His arm hits him. His helmet goes over the top of him. And right here, (the official) can't wait to reach into the back pocket.
What upsets me most was it wasn't helmet to helmet and it could change this game drastically if Florida is able to get points on the board because of the field position created by the 15-yard penalty.
Mark Jones: There's Kenny Iwebema, and he's probably ruminating what exactly happened on that last penalty that was called against him.
Spielman: Not only that he's probably thinking about it a couple of times.
(After Florida scores a touchdown with :01 left in the half.)
Jones: And now, Iowa thinking even more about that penalty against Kenny Iwebema.
Spielman: The phantom penalty! Penalty for tackling!
And now the elephant in the room, the offsides on the onside kick. Wow. I think this goes under the category of "at the end of a game, don't make a call that changes the outcome". You let them play unless its an obvious foul.
Is this offsides? (screen capture from my TiVo recording)
Anyway, here's Spielman again:
Spielman: It looked to me like everybody was onside. Let's take a look at it and see if they were correct.
Spielman: That's a bad call. You know, really. To me, this is unconscionable. There's the foot on the ball, he has not crossed the line. I just get upset because...
(Watches replay again)
Spielman: He's not crossed the line.
Jones: You can hear a chorus of boos showering down on the officiating crew from Conference USA.
Spielman: They should. There's too much on the line to keep missing calls.
Spielman: Take a look at it again.
(Watches replay again)
Spielman: Coach Kirk Ferentz has a right to be upset. Watch when the ball's kicked. He is behind the line of scrimmage. Unconscionable to make that call! The game is too fast for these officials. I'm sorry if I'm hard on them but I'm passionate about this game, guys are playing their hearts out, they execute a play and they took it away from them.
That's the same sentiment I had watching the Nebraska-Michigan game last week. This time as a fan of the team getting hosed, well, it sucks, quite frankly. And the best part is mainstream news media express the same sentiment. A sampling:
Des Moines Register
The refs choked. When the curtains were raised and the spotlights were flipped on, these jokers didn't just freeze up and forget their lines. They went flying headlong into the orchestra pit.
If the 2006 Outback Bowl were an episode of "American Idol," Simon Cowell would have sent replay official Paul Schmitt home in tears.
"I thought it was a great kick. I hope they were offsides.", Florida coach Urban Meyer said. When the opposing coach stands in front of a room of reporters and says he hopes a beneficial call was right - well, that's a pretty good sign you got hosed.
"He looked a lot onside to me," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "But I'm biased." Apparently, he wasn't the only one.
Whoops! Flag. Offside, Iowa, a call as dubious as the personal foul for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Florida quarterback Chris Leak that accelerated the Gators first touchdown drive that closed the first half.
The Gators were booed off the field by Iowa's large contingent of fans, who were furious with the an officiating crew from Conference USA that was flag-happy all day with Hawkeyes. Iowa was the third least-penalized team in the nation with only four per game, but was flagged eight times for 60 yards - including an obscure penalty for disconcerting signals and a heartbreaking offside call on an onside kick that all but ended the game.
Daytona Beach News-Journal
But the Gators needed one more call to seal the deal and prevent them from possibly suffering the same fate as Louisiana State last year, which lost to Iowa 30-25 on Drew Tate's 56-yard touchdown pass as time expired in the Capital One Bowl. This call came from the officials.
And the article? Top notch. The officiating in several of the bowl games has been . . . what's the word, controversial?
They're still buzzing about Wednesday night's Alamo Bowl fiasco, the Nebraska-Michigan game called by Sun Belt Conference officials. And thousands of Iowa fans were angry over many of the calls in Monday's Outback Bowl, which was called by officials from Conference USA.
As far as we can tell, however, there is no truth to the rumor that officials from the Pioneer League will be doing the Rose Bowl.
So the bottom line: the refs screwed Iowa. But the Hawks didn't play well enough to deserve to win anyway, so give credit to Florida for the win. They played the better game, and earned the win. Its too bad it was officiated so poorly, and I enjoyed venting up there about it, but the facts are Florida won 31-24. Oh well, beats losing, oh, 37-17 or something