Monday, November 12, 2007

It's all becoming more clear

Colorado's Famous Fifth Down

No new news on the Mike Leach "tirade" today. Don Williams of the A-J reports this afternoon that Big 12 Commissioner Don Beebe was traveling today and will be more than likely announcing a "response" (my words) tomorrow.

Given a day of thinking about this situation a bit more - and reading all of my favorite writers in traditional media and on the web - I think I may have cracked this case and would like for you to put aside any preconceived notions and put away your school colored glasses for a bit.

Let's gather the facts and define our terms and then let's try and connect some dots...

First, let's look at what was said and take note of what wasn't:

First - the video from Fox Lubbock HERE. This is the entire presser from start to finish.

Here's audio of the "rant" and I don't exactly know what some of those pictures are doing in the video - just listen and try to ignore the picture of Zidane because I still can't figure out what the hell that has to do with any of this - you'll see - roll tape...

The rest of the rant not featured above is detailed in the A-J's post game article also by Don Williams:

"I've been in some games that were poorly officiated, and I've never commented on it in eight years,'' Leach said. "But something needs to be said, and I'm going to say it. Something's got to change. The thing about it is, last year in this instance I bit my tongue, and I regret it. This whole do everything status quo, and oh my gosh the conference might fine me ... Sometimes it's just the right thing to do, and sometimes things aren't going to change unless somebody stands up and says something.''

Leach said an Austin resident on the crew "affected the integrity of the football game, and that's unfortunate.''

He declined to say of whom he was speaking.

"Let me try to keep this as impersonal as possible,'' Leach said. "But am I condemning the crew? Hell yeah, I'm condemning the crew.''

"The timing of when things happen is critical,'' Leach said. "We're getting ready to march down there and really make a run early in the second half and we were prevented from that happening for us, and it was prevented by officiating.''

Leach spoke calmly and referred to notes he'd made to himself when discussing the plays.

"Unless this can change, the Big 12 Conference needs to take a serious look at having out-of-conference officials officiating the Texas Tech-Texas game and perhaps other games where there is proven to be a bias by officiating. Does the bowl picture enter it? I don't know. Does the money involved with it enter into it? I don't know. But all anybody has to do really is look at the film, and it's apparent.''

Asked if he expects to be coaching in Tech's home finale next week against No. 4 Oklahoma, Leach said: "Yes, I expect to be coaching. If it's atrociously bad as this one, we'll be talking again. But I'm not standing for this.''

Already today, Betsy Blaney of the AP reports that Leach is standing behind what he says - but Coach Leach has already noticed that some of it is not being taken in its "full context" (Leach's words).

We'll get back to Betsy because her story makes a jump in logic that I made on Sunday morning in my post here, in the Don Williams article quoted extensively above and Gabriel's Horn has made it as well. It's only natural. Except that we miss the bigger issue and need to see the "full context."

Listen, Leach was flat wrong during the section of the video where he calls out those specific plays that took "two touchdowns off the board." I think he's seen the video by now and has probably seen that those plays were called correctly - but the other calls (Crabtree catch/no catch and the Harrell late hit) he'll never see any other way.

What wasn't said? Other than he didn't single out any official by name or position on the field...

The replay booth - so now let me introduce you to the "unnamed source" that is "Pablo." Pablo is a guy or gal that posts on Seth's blog, Double T Nation. This "Pablo" by all accounts appears to be pretty close to the program and has historically posted relevant information about the program on DTN that has always been substantiated later either in the MSM or on the field. Like it or not, the anonymity of these blogs can be criticized but every once in awhile there is information out there that can be shared like this that's important and sheds new light.

Other side of the story - it can't be substantiated. I've read plenty of "anonymous sources" on the interweb - and all you can do is judge them by their record. If that's the test - "Pablo" has an outstanding record.

Here's where you can find his full comment (it will be near the bottom of the page under the bold heading "Momentum buster").

Here's the bits that I think are particularly revealing and which put a whole new spin on the "rant." I also think these comments make not only the reason for the rant more understandable but connect the dots in a meaningful way.

(Also note that I have corrected some spelling and added emphasis when I copied his comment to DiscoTech!)

Leach is right that officials who have obvious connections to a school should not be allowed to officiate that game. Two officials on the squad, the review official and a line Judge were ex Texas grads. Another was from Texas A&M and one was from Oklahoma. The rest were from back east.

What the main complaint Leach has is that when you have officials working a game they may help their school. Oklahoma is helped by a Texas win, as well as Texas is helped by a Texas win.

So you have 3 of the five officiating that could be in a place to skew their judgment if they wanted to.

So Leach is right that the officials should not be allowed to call games which their school might benefit. In other words, NO officials who have graduated from a Big 12 school should be allowed to call a Big 12 game. That is the issue.

Complaining about bad officials is not the same as complaining about a bad outcome. They are two different issues. Sometimes a bad official costs a game by their call which make these issues the same. But in this case, a Tech loss and bad officiating is not the same thing nor is the reasons behind the issue.

What Leach is up set about is that there were places in the game that should have been properly reviewed. They were not. It took Leach to call twice for a review to actually get the review.

Leach would have reviewed the McCoy fumble downed and TD call but could not. It could not be reviewed because Tech was out of reviews and the official in the both did not call for one.

What people do not understand is that in the official review booth there is a Texas coach and a Tech Coach along with the official and two official Technical people who work the equipment.
Leach called the coach in the booth to ask what the hell was going on in the booth and to ask the question.

When the review official in the booth is screaming for Texas and high fiving the Texas Coach for every Texas event it just well made Leach mad which would have made any head coach mad who learned of this.

So in this case the issue is not about sour grapes about the loss. Its about fixing a problem that should never have happened in the first place.

How about that?

That sure explains a LOT.

It explains why the conversation at midfield with Mack Brown was a long one - why 90% of the conversation happened directly in the ear of the other - and why Leach appeared to be doing most of the talking.

I imagine it went like this: "Mack, your team beat us down today and you and your team deserve the win. What I'm about to do in my post game presser has no reflection on you or your team. I've got to do what I think is best for us - and I'm going to rip Big 12 officiating as big a hole as I can."

It explains why Coach Leach wants us to be sure be see the "big picture" and focus on the "full context."

It explains why he would be willing to pay a fine or even be suspended. It also demonstrates the trust that he feels the administration has in him. While he may not have had the express permission of Gerald Myers to drop this bomb, Leach is not a dumb guy, he knew when presented with his side of the story he had to be sure he could sell the goods to Gerald Myers and not lose face.

I think Coach Leach wanted to be sure he got a conversation with Don Bebee - and I'm guessing he did, or will.

Leach is an attorney, people. His downfall is that he may be too smart. I'm guessing he waited until he had all the evidence he felt like he needed before he pushed his chips into the pot on this one. (Again, the Line Judge in the OU game 2 years ago was from Lubbock - I wish he would acknowledge that, but based on his argument he's got to be willing to live with that. I don't see your coach stepping up and calling a spade a spade here ...)
Notice that every article written thus far draws a straight line from Leach's disgust with the officiating to specific calls made on the field. I did it on Sunday - even the AP reporter Betsy Blaney goes straight from "called the officiating a complete travesty" to "Leach was upset when officials disallowed two touchdowns..."

Those two statements happen to be correct when read independently of another but the writers and readers miss the bigger point entirely when you do that.

Leach is more concerned about officiating in the "global" sense - this game just happened to be the one that typified it more than others for him. The great majority of his talk didn't even focus on this game - it was on how to fix officiating as a whole.

So lets take Coach's comments for what they're worth - an angry guy that was fired up that his team lost. He's seen by now that a couple of the calls he mentioned in his presser were the right ones. Just be sure you don't miss the point that he's trying to make - and "Pablo" could not have said it better:

"Complaining about bad officials is not the same as complaining about a bad outcome. They are two different issues."

Now it's Don Bebee that has some explaining to do.


Charles said...


"In 2005, when Texas Tech defeated Oklahoma, 23-21, in Lubbock on a disputed touchdown by Taurean Henderson, the line judge in the game was Kelly Deterding of Lubbock.

When asked about that 2005 situation and if officials should be barred from working games in their hometown, Leach said, 'My comments on Saturday pretty thoroughly answered that question.'"

Bond J. Bond said...

Well there you go - a smart guy.

He'll take that loss to OU in order to "clean up" the officiating as a whole.

The Masked Wino said...

Great post. There are a lot of problems in officiating. I only wish Leach had waited a little while to point it out. Regardless of the bigger picture, using a post-game press conference just makes it look like sour grapes, and I think it does more to hurt the situation rather than help it. I think he's right about hometown refs to a point, but to ban anyone who has any interest in the games would be to ban most if not all referees. With the BCS being the clusterfuck it is, SOMEONE'S team always benefits from one team or another winning. What's the cutoff? You can't have a Texas/Tech grad in your family for four generations? I think Leach has the right idea in pointing out refs who are actually biased, but I imagine there are plenty of "hometown refs" who we could all agree are doing just fine. Let's not condemn the entire group for the questionable actions of a few.

Charles said...

How about solving it going the other way? ALL refs for the game are reps of either school. Split evenly between the two in equal numbers. 2 review officials from each side as well.

The Masked Wino said...

I think the real way to solve it is for the Big 12 and to a larger extent the NCAA to hold referees accountable. Make public statements when things were called the wrong way. Punish or fire referees that have biased records. Keep a public database of referees who have made bad calls (proven to be so after the fact, of course). I still think Leach stepped a little out of line with his comments, but the Big 12 shouldn't punish coaches for pointing out bad officiating. Coaches should do so when they feel it's been unacceptable, and the Big 12 and the NCAA have an obligation to investigate and take action where necessary (all under the watch of the public eye).

Anonymous said...

This is a great post, Bond. Good work. I watched the Leach presser. It does put some of it in context, but I don't think it gets Leach fully off the hook.

Masked Wino pretty much sums up my thoughts. I mean, I can think of lots of situations where a ref from Louisiana (LSU fan?) might want a Big 12 team to lose or not. You can't go there. I think you punish those who have shown no integrity.

For the life of me, though, I don't think the officiating was a big deal at all. For crying out loud, when you tackle a guy by his neck, it is holding. When the ball bounces in the end zone, it's not a catch. And Crab's "catch" appeared to hit the deck, even on the replay, and the initial call was no catch. The Shipley catch was, in fact, a catch by rule. On and on.

I grant you that Leach gave Texas some credit, but he should have said what happened: Tech got man-handled. We can't play defense, and the officiating in no way contributed to this loss. But Leach didn't say that. He implied that the officiating hurt Tech at key moments. He is full of crap in that regard.

One might argue that Leach is/was deflecting attn. from his own performance. I mean, how can you give up 60 and go off on other people's incompetence?

B Orange ... more ...

Anonymous said...

Now, on to the allegation by Pablo that the Texas rep and replay official were "high-fiving". If this were the case, the replay official should be fired, immediately. And a public statement issued. It does, in fact, hurt the integrity of the game. If this occurred, though, (or the replay official showed any outward bias), then we should know about it from more than an anon internet source.

Why are we not hearing about it from some one other than from Pablo? I can't believe that Leach did not mention this if it was really occurring.

Larry Zeppo said...

Your observations of the conduct or misconduct in the Tech-UT replay booth are very serious. Were these personal observations or did they come from sources with direct knowledge? Have you or Mike Leach brought the matter to league's attention? If so, the league may try and suppress the reports. Might I suggest passing this information directly to the local, state and national press? This needs more light on it.

Bond J. Bond said...

they aren't "my" observations - they belong to "Pablo." I personally doubt that it happened. If you want to send the info to Don Williams be my guess - I bet the traditional media wouldn't touch this with a 10' pole.

I saw it and thought it helped connect some dots - but would be shocked that it could be verified at all - and dumbfounded if it were true.