Blum: Indisputable Chaos

I left Jack Trice Stadium well after midnight amidst a lightning show and impending hail storm. The clouds opened and the deluge struck seconds after I got into my car in lot S-3. Mother nature had to hold off until the bedlam on the football field and in the press conference had settled. The events of the evening were chaotic enough.

A day later and the rawness of the emotion still simmers in Ames. For the third time in 2013, the Cyclones were robbed of a victory in front of a national audience. A fan-base that is accustomed to a kick to the midsection found a new way to get doubled over. The Cyclones were an absolute afterthought entering the contest. Each conversation centered around Mack Brown and his never-ending soap opera. By the time midnight rolled around and the skies opened, Paul Rhoads was the center of the college football world. Unfortunately, it was because of the latest Cyclone tragedy.

Iowa State went toe-to-toe with the Longhorns, out-coaching and out-executing them for the majority of the game. The Cyclones had 100 more yards than Texas, possessed the ball for 10 more minutes and fought through a cavalcade of penalties to be in position to win their first conference opener in 11 years. The defense made huge play after huge play. Despite being undersized in every position, Wally Burnham’s crew scrapped and out-hustled the Texas five star talent. After the opening drive, the defense rendered the Texas ground game inoperable. Texas accumulated just 70 yards on 27 carries over the final 57 minutes. Quite the leap from a unit that was decimated by Northern Iowa.

The D provided windows for the offense to break through, which is what Sam Richardson, Quenton Bundrage and Aaron Wimberly did. Courtney Messingham put his guys in position to make ESPN plays and they delivered.

Wimberly went over 100 yards again, the first Cyclone back to have consecutive century mark games since Alexander Robinson in 2010. Wimberly ran like rockets were attached to him, not even the Texas speed could catch up to his burst. Richardson and Bundrage hooked up for the longest pass play in Cyclone history as the line picked up a critical blitz and the seas parted. It was a complete offensive performance.  

The offense trotted on the field up three with seven minutes left. It was a drive that was going to salt away the game and Mack Brown’s Longhorn career. The Cyclones gained chunks of yardage and it appeared Texas had given up as Wimberly breezed to the four yard line. But a 2nd and 1 play went backwards and the bad fortune unfurled. A touchdown prevents the firestorm that came next.

The horrendous non-fumble has been discussed ad nauseam by anyone with a microphone or keyboard. The block/charge calls in the Kansas and Ohio State basketball games were awful enough, but at least those were split second decisions at game speed and non-reviewable. The replay official and the referee at Jack Trice had minutes to digest and analyze the same replays we all saw.

Big 12 Supervisor Walt Coleman said in a statement today, " (The replay official) correctly determined there was no indisputable video evidence to confirm that either the ruling on the field was correct, or that the ball was loose prior to the runner being down. By rule when there is not indisputable video evidence to confirm or change the call on the field, the ruling stands."

I think we need a new definition of indisputable. 

Officiating is a very hard and thankless job, but given minutes and five angles to analyze, the majority of people with eyes that watched that game came to the same conclusion. If there was still some question over whether that call was indisputable enough, then the standard of disputability needs to change.

If the call on the field went Iowa State’s way, that was definitely standing as well. Perhaps the replay official should focus on getting the call right and not whether the on-field officials got it wrong.

The review system has been around the Big 12 since 2005. In those eight years, 1,110 plays have been reviewed. Just 28 percent of the plays have been overturned. The Big 12 added an eight on-field official this year; it may be time for a 2nd replay official.

Right now all it takes is one set of eyes and a floating definition of indisputable to determine a game; Iowa State learned that the hard way. Just add it to the list.