SIDELINE SLANTS- What a university president should have said…

Just when I thought I’ve heard it all, Oklahoma University president David Boren said something that left me speechless. And for those of you who know me, that’s not easy to do.

Let me set the stage. By all accounts, OU was victimized by a couple of bad calls late in a game at Oregon and wound up losing 34-33.

There were the expected sour grapes from OU coach Bob Stoops about how the officials cost OU the game, although as far as I know, the officials didn’t cause OU to miss tackles and give up two late touchdowns.

The whining by Sooner Nation was not unexpected. Whining, not love, is the universal language in sports. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a cheese shortage someday, because there won’t be enough cheese to go along with the whine.

Here’s the statement that left me scratching my head. In a letter to Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg, Boren wrote: “…The Big 12 should request that the game should not go into the record books as a win or a loss by either team in light of the level of officiating mistakes.”


But why stop there.

“It’s truly sad and deeply disappointing that members of our football team should be deprived of the outcome of the game that they deserved because of an inexcusable breakdown in officiating,” Boren concluded.

Following that logic, I’ve never lost a baseball, basketball or soccer game in my life, because there were always some bad calls made in games I played in high school and college.

Let me liberally translate what I think Boren meant to say: “It’s truly sad and deeply disappointing that our university should be deprived of the millions of dollars that it might have realized from a BCS appearance because of an inexcusable breakdown in officiating.”

What’s most disappointing is that Boren, the leader of a respected institution, took the low road in this saga. He could have and should have said something like, “It’s unfortunate, but bad calls happen. Sometimes they go in our favor and sometimes they don’t. Life isn’t always fair, but you have to make the best of it. Just as officials need to work harder to reduce their mistakes, our team needs to work harder at not letting a bad call affect the outcome of the game.”

Gordon Riese, the instant replay official who failed to overturn a bad call in that game, must have felt like he was under siege after receiving threatening phone calls, including a death threat.

Riese said, “I feel so bad I missed that call. It’s driving me crazy. I can’t sleep. I can’t eat, my blood pressure is skyrocketing.”

He stopped answering the phone, and police are investigating the threatening calls while keeping an eye on his neighborhood.

“They not only threatened me, they threatened my wife and kids,” Riese said.

The fact the Pac-10 refs received a one-game suspension did little to appease anyone. My question is, if all officials are suspended for human error, will anyone be left to officiate?

Of course, to be fair, Boren is only following an OU tradition. As I recall, former OU basketball coach Billy Tubbs once grabbed a public address microphone at a home game to implore fans to stop throwing things on the court. Tubbs said something like, “Please stop throwing things on the court no matter how bad the officiating is.

The following quote from columnist Pat Forde seems to apply to this situation and to all high school and college football fans, players and coaches, and administrators:

“If the scoreboard says you lost, you lost. That’s not going to change. Take an hour to vent post-game, then try to regain your sanity.

“Do not diminish your quality of life-and the quality of life of those around you-by spewing for days about the refs who cheated your team, the flagrant league bias against your team, or the complete lack of class displayed by the team that beat your team. Your team l-o-s-t. Try to deal.”

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