You saw it. I saw it. We all did. Utah’s imposing head football coach Kyle Winingham dogged officials as he left the field after during his team’s 10-3 loss against Washington in the Pac-12 Championship Game on Friday.
“What!” Winingham demanded, his arms spread wide. “How could you miss that!” It was not a question. Shouted with an accusatory point of the index finger, the same gesture in an Odessa beer joint would spark a brawl.
Replays show Washington cornerback Byron Murphy collided early with the Utah receiver Siasoi Mariner, hitting him in the back well before the ball arrived. Officials missed it. No doubt. But we barstool pundits have the benefit of replay cameras, giving us multiple views, in slow motion. Only a conspiracy theorist could claim PAC 12 bias against the Utes.
The raw facts: Winingham had a beef all right, and the play took Utah out of its last chance this season to reach the Rose Bowl (with its lucrative payday) for the first time in school history. Instead, UDub is going for the first time in 17 years.
Factoid 2: The game last Saturday in Santa Clara, Calif., carried nowhere near the weight of the 1969 Arkansas-Texas in Fayetteville. The Big Shootout was not only for the Southwest Conference title, but for the national championship and bragging rights for neighboring states.
That fateful day, two legendary coaches – Frank Broyles of the Razorbacks (below right) and Longhorns leader Darrell Royal – both saw razor-thin calls go against them. Neither said a word about officiating, during or after the contest settled by one point.
Such honor and sportsmanship faded from sports when TV replays started showing end zone dances and bat-flips before home run trots. These trends in culture and sports, and many others, are covered in my new historical narrative Beyond The Big Shootout – 50 Years of Football’s Life Lessons. Page layouts are almost finished, due for an early 2019 release. Be watchful.