First off, let just start off by stating that even with its endless number of follies, college football is my all-time #1 sport to watch on TV. By midsummer every year I'm almost counting down the minutes until August camp starts, BE media day, etc etc etc. Even though Syracuse has been down (aside from this season) in football, I look forward to each season even more than hoops. Maybe that kind of allegiance defies logic, but stick with me on this.
Now that I've established that i'm both a 'Cuse and College Football junkie, lets delve into yesterdays game and not focus completely on hor it ended. For better or for worse, I am NOT a guy who will stick around to criticize the officiating of any game in any sport (exception: ANY game that invovles Tim Higgins). That kind of talk is for sore losers, and even in some cases, some sore winners IMO. I am willing to accept that bogus officiating is, sadly, part of sports and will continue to be for a long while. No matter how much we torque down on the officials and openly bitch at them, your team will get the calls sometimes, and others they will not. The only varible is the frequency, whether its every other week, game, play etc. and there's plenty of things that happen all game long that you do not see on TV. As a Syracuse fan, I have no problem with the bogus penalty at the very end which sealed our first bowl victory since 2001 - except the assholes trying to cheapen this with for the team and our fans. To them I'd say chances are good that Syracuse would have prevailed anyway. We'll never know what the ending would have been, or if even K-State would have converted the 2 pts or been able to stop Syracuse on their last possession. Furthermore, on the previous drive, that had to be the worst fake FG attempt I have ever seen a team try to pull off. Everyone in my house was up on their feet screaming "IT'S A FAKE!!!" at the TV. Not only was the play poorly conceived to start with, it was executed even worse.
But if I am an unbiased message-board-hero officiating critic, I'd say that the only bad part about yesterdays game was the HORRENDOUS officiating. I'm not talking about excessive celebration, I'm talking about the whole game. Otherwise, the inagural Pinstripe Bowl was an overwhelming success story amidst what has been to this point a thoroughly boring bowl season. An unbiased person would see that Syracuse was screwed by the officials in the first half - one on a play that what would have been a 3 and out by K-State and instead set up a TD and another that effectively took at least away FG try (which Kraut would have nailed anyways) for SU at the end of the half. That's a 10 pts Syracuse could have been ahead by. Instead it was a 14-14 tie despite Syracuse having outplayed K-State thoroughly on the field. Now I'm not saying that the excessive celabration flag was a "make-up call" by the officials or anything, but given how terribly they handled the game, it was simply consistent with the other attrocities they committed all game long. At the end of the day I'm not a armchair referee. Like I said before, both teams put on one helluva show, that is what is to be remembered in this game. some folks will say shame on the refs. But I say shame on ESPN and other writers who are trying to cheapen this game by focusing on one penalty.
I'm not saying K-State fans shouldn't be pissed about the lapse of judgement by the officials that led to the bogus penalty. If it were Syracuse that were trying to tie the game I'd be vexed by it to the same degree that die hard Buffalo sports fan's are with "Wide Right" and the "Phantom Goal". But in the end, they should be equally pissed that:
a) Their guy was stupid enough to do anything other than hand the ball to the official and hurry back to his team to find out what play they were going to dial up for the 2pt. conversion - its not like he just won the game for K-State or all they needed was a XP to tie it up. No, his team still had a lot of work to do. It was a stupid thing to do. Stupidity should hurt. This time it did.
b) That their defense let the Big East's worst offensive team have nearly 500 yards of total offense on the day. How the hell does a Big East team even do that? I don't even think many Big East teams put up that many yards on FCS teams this year.
c) The aformention horrendous call by their coach not to just take the FG on the previous drive. If not that, he should have simply lined up to go for it on 4th and 5 straight up rather do what they did. Hell, even taking a knee would have been better than the fake FG try, would have at least saved them another 5-6 second on the game clock for their next possession.
And as a Syracuse fan, I'd say you do have to feel a little bad for K-State though in another area. K-State turned this into their style of game and the Orange simply were better at it than them at it. Both on the scorebard but also in the box score. Which is all the more impressive for Syracuse considering we spotted K-State the ball at the Pinstripe Bowl Logo on every drive.
At the end of the day, both Syracuse and K-State played one helluva game. Knowing that the Syracuse Football Program has been snake-bitten for so long by all sorts or random crap-penings that I'm 100% okay with the ending of the game. Instead I'm going to remember DC3 shredding K-State and making their defense look worse that Akron, Maine and Colgate combined, the brilliant flea-flicker TD pass by Ryan Nassib and the emergence of Marcus Sales. And I'm absolutely thrilled to have Antwon Bailey back next year. Wonder how he will handle being the feature back. I think we're in for a treat.
Enough of my ramblings, what did you guys think?