You have to hand it to the Big 12. They certainly have a way of taking a smoldering pile of controversy and, in an attempt to put it out, toss 55-gallon drums of gasoline on it.
Saturday evening, the conference issued a pair of press releases addressing two of the situations that arose during and after Thursday night’s controversial Texas-Iowa State game.
Late in the fourth quarter, Longhorns running back Johnathan Gray appeared to fumble inside the five-yard line, with an Iowa State defender recovering with nothing but 95 yards between himself and what would’ve likely been the game-clinching touchdown with under two minutes remaining. However, Gray was ruled down by contact and the call on the field stood upon further review in the replay booth.
One play later, UT scored what would prove to be the game-winning touchdown with :51 remaining. Understandably, ISU head coach Paul Rhoads was livid afterwards, essentially saying that the game was taken away from the Cyclones by the officiating.
The criticism didn’t sit well with a league office that was responsible for a laughable “no video evidence” determination a day later, with the Big 12 issuing a public reprimand of Rhoads… while also intimating he’s lucky he didn’t receive a harsher penalty.
“Coach Rhoads violated Conference rules that prohibit coaches, student-athletes, athletic department staff and university personnel from making public comments about game officials,” said Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby. “Although more severe action was possible he is being issued a public reprimand. Coach Rhoads is also put on notice that future incidents may result in a more serious penalty.”
In addition to the public wrist slap of Rhoads, the Big 12 also publicly reprimanded Texas’s Mike Davis. The wide receiver created more than a little outrage with a suspect “block” on a Cyclones defender well away from and at the end of a play. It was a cheap shot that many thought would/should lead to a suspension for the player. Instead, we get…
“In accord with the Conference’s Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct policy, Mr. Davis’ action was in violation of the rule prohibiting physically abusive acts toward an opponent’s team members during a contest,” said Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby. “Given the heightened emphasis on player safety, unnecessary and illegal acts such as this have no place in the game and are unacceptable. Mr. Davis is also put on notice that any future such behavior may result in a more serious penalty, including possible suspension.”
So, the Big 12’s way of dealing with a player attempting to take out the knees of an opposing player and a head coach who rightly questioned the officiating is to give them the same public reprimand?
Bravo, Big 12. Bravo. Solomon would be awed at the level of wisdom displayed over the past three days.