The Big East officials working the Outback Bowl this week didn’t have the best day at the office. Maybe they were out celebrating the New Year in Ybor City and were hung over during the game? Seriously, these guys were a hot mess all day. They screwed up the coin toss, didn’t know where to spot the ball on a kickoff that went out of bounds, flagged Ace Sanders for unsportsman like conduct for getting hurt, and then of course completely bungled this first down measurement call:
The sad thing is the officials stuck with the obviously wrong call even after they reviewed it. Jon Gruden called the game on ESPN and was riding down the press elevator with us after the game. He told us he’s never seen officials blow a measurement before. Steve Spurrier didn’t have an explanation and apparently neither did the officiating crew. He’s how Spurrier recounted the event:
I said [to the official] “you know the ball didn’t touch the first down marker”. [The ref] said “I know it didn’t.” I said, “Well, why did you give it to him?” He said, “I don’t know.” That’s what he said. …He wasn’t going to change his mind.
It was a real head scratcher for sure. It wasn’t like this was a hard call. Even these little girls watching on television seemed to understand the simplicity of the call:
I’m not sure they are potty trained, but they know what a first down is. I’m not sure what kind of phone the second kid was talking on, but I hope the person on the other end was the head of Big East officiating.
That crew can thank Jadeveon Clowney for bailing them out on the next call. Had Michigan kept the ball, scored, and won the game, this wouldn’t have been such a light-hearted story in Gamecock Nation.
“Clowney knocked the ball out the next play so I’m glad they gave [the first down] to them,” Spurrier said. We gained about 10 or 15 yards as it turned out.”