Officials’ Evaluation: Oklahoma State vs Texas

Every now and then, we see some shoddy officiating that is so one-sided and so atrocious that the only way to explain it is that it was done deliberately. Now, do I actually believe the Big XII officials had it in for Texas? No, not given the conference’s pathetic history of junior varsity officiating. Still, what I saw was so ghastly that I decided to DVR the game replay and go back through the calls. This is by no means comprehensive because I watched most of the filler and non-penalized plays on fast forward. I did my best to run down calling official, down and distance, call, and offender. Below is that rundown. If you want a view of the officiating through the eyes of a fairly sharp Texas blogger, check it out here.

Things to know before we get into the timeline:

  • The foul count was 16 to 6, with Texas penalty yardage being nearly 150 yards to Oklahoma State’s 40.
  • Oklahoma State had 2 live ball fouls, 4 procedural fouls and no personal fouls.
  • Texas had at least 2 personal fouls, and were regularly flagged for live ball fouls.
  • Oklahoma State took 3 procedural fouls on purpose.
  • The crew was atrocious spotting the ball all night for both teams.

I stress again, I watched most of this game on fast forward and I missed it live so this is not comprehensive, but it does catch every foul called and a couple of observations.

First Quarter

12:05: 3rd and 8. OKST ball. Defensive hold called against TX24 by the Field Judge on a slant route. 10 yard penalty. Automatic first down.

Comments: Defender had backside arm wrapped on the receiver. The influence was slight and minor, but did not seem to impact the receiver’s ability to get to the ball. I can defend the call as falling within the letter of the law, but it was very strict enforcement of the Rule. Official likely deploying the “get it early” strategy.

Call Grade: B

7:45: 1st and 10. Post-completed pass for OKST. Personal Foul: Roughing the Passer called by the Referee. 15 yards, added to the end of the play.

Comments: The ball had been released and the quarterback was still in the Passer stance. Defensive End closes gap post release and shoves quarterback to the ground with both hands. Push was not remarkably violent, but it was full extension and unnecessary. DE was undisciplined. Foul occurred early in the game and the Referee called it to set the tone that the quarterback was off limits.

Call Grade: A

7:11: 1st and 10. Texas ball. Texas playcall was a reverse to the near sideline. No foul called. Texas player tackled out of bounds.

Comments: Fans and sideline clamored for a personal foul call for late hit. The no call here was the right call. OKST squared up the running back in bounds and finished the play out of bounds without excessive force or prolonged contact.

No Call to Grade

4:00: 2nd and 5. Texas ball. Offensive holding called against TX74. Actual offender TX77.

Comments: TX77 had defender blocked and on skates, but did not let go when defender turned to try and fight back towards the ball. The defender had no hope of making the play, but the hold technically occurred, as holds technically occur nearly every play. This is another letter of the law call, however, it bailed out a defender who was blocked and overpowered.

Call Grade: C+

2:05: 2nd and short. Texas ball. Holding TX55. 10 yard penalty.

Comments: Hold appears to occur against OS96. Difficult to tell. Impedance is minor, 96 is not grounded by the hold. No advantage gained by the OL and the block occurred on the interior of the breastplate. If this hold was called consistently all game, these teams would still be playing. This is a poor call given the context and lack of advantage gained by the offensive lineman.

Call Grade: D

1:37: Texas called for a False Start. 5 yard penalty. Correct call.

Call Grade: A

0:46: 1st and 10. OKST ball. Holding OS47. 10 yard penalty.

Comments: Bear hug hold. Clear and obvious holding foul.

Call Grade: A

Second Quarter

11:08: 3rd and 8. OKST ball. Personal Foul. Roughing the Passer. Pass resulted in INT for Texas, negated by foul.

Comments: Defender pulled up and made glancing contact with crown of helmet under the facemask of the quarterback. Quarterback neither substantially contacted nor grounded by contact. No way for defender to avoid this contact as the helmet was lowered prior to the release of the ball and the resulting impact was from the defender pulling up. Poor judgment and call incorrect. Call negates interception and gives OKST an unearned first down.

Call Grade: F

9:27: 4th down and FG formation. Delay of game. OKST ball. Deliberate delay.

Call Grade: A

9:18: OKST Kickoff. 2 fouls on Texas. Holding during return and late hit. Both enforced.

Comments: Fouls occurred outside viewable area. No commentary.

No Call to Grade

6:52: 2nd and short. Texas ball. Holding TX77. Downfield cut block.

Comments: This block was completely clean and the broadcast showed it from multiple angles. TX77 fires into the midsection of the OKST defender and knocks him on his back. This is a pancake block and is not illegal. This foul is completely erroneous and it negated a touchdown for Texas.

Call Grade: F

0:09: Delay of Game. OKST ball. Deliberate procedural foul.

Call Grade: A

Third Quarter

13:43: 1st and 10. Texas ball. Illegal forward pass on double pass play.

Comments: Excellent call. The lateral pass from Heard was forward, as was the deep ball. The WR set up behind the 40 yard line with the quarterback in front of the 40 yard line. The receiver had to lunge forward to catch the pass and was in front of the forty at the spot of the catch. Officials deploy the “if in doubt, it is a forward pass” mantra when judging swing passes. Had that pass fallen to the turf, it would have been ruled incomplete. This standard applies to the double pass.

Call Grade: A

11:07: No foul. Replay on Texas interception. Texas defender failed to arrest downward force on the ball prior to the nose of the ball hitting the ground. Call on field overturned correctly.

10:20: Catch/no catch. Replay on OKST completion. Ruled complete on the field. Receiver secured ball in bounds on the way to the ground. He repositions and the ball moves slightly, but nothing constituting an apparent loss of control. Catch ruling correct.

4:07: 2nd and 11. No foul called. Deep pass to endzone.

Comments: TX43 arm-barred by defender out of bounds. CB influenced pathing and made receiver ineligible by riding him out of bounds downfield. Defensive pass interference should have been called to be consistent with the defensive hold that occurred on Texas early in the first quarter. Field Judge had primary responsibility on this as well as the aforementioned foul. No reason this should not have been called. You cannot apply a different standard throughout the game.

Call Grade: D

Fourth Quarter

7:37: OKST ball. Fumble on play. Holding on OKST. Impossible to make out the hold on camera.

No Call to Grade

7:05: 3rd and 19. OKST ball. False Start.

Note: ESPN showed a penalty graphic at the 7:00 mark in the 4th Quarter. Texas had 11 for 86 yards. OKST had 5 for 30. This number is exceptionally out of balance. OKST’s play was not notably more disciplined than Texas.

5:50: 1st and 10. Texas ball. Holding TX77. Umpire called.

Comments: Takedown hold. Good call.

Call Grade: A

4:15: Texas ball. False Start

3:56: 2nd and 10. OKST ball. No foul called.

Comments: OS56 commits identical takedown hold that occurred at 5:50.

Call Grade: F

3:54: 2nd and 10. OKST ball. Defensive pass interference. Spot foul. Automatic first down.

Comments: Good call. Defender wrapped waist of receiver and prevented a play.

Call Grade: A

Note: Updated penalty graphic. OKST 5 fouls for 30 yards. Texas 14 fouls for 103 yards. Extremely unbalanced and the gap is widening.

3:49: 1st and 10. OKST ball. Running play. Defensive holding on the TX defensive tackle.

Comments: This kind of holding can occur on running plays, however, it is usually for when a tackle holds an offensive lineman and prevents him from getting a block. The tackle who “held” on this play as on skates from a double team of the C and LG of OKST. OL had jersey pulled by defender trying to fight off the double team. The defender neither impeded nor prevented either lineman from getting to their block. This play resulted in a tackle for loss. This call is so poor it appears suspect and makes me question the motivations or the competence of the Umpire to officiate football at a high level.

Call Grade: F

3:47: 1st and 10. OKST ball. Dead ball interval. Unsportsmanlike Conduct call on Coach Charlie Strong for Texas.

Comments: The linesman leaned into Strong and threw the flag upon contacting the coach. The official appeared to manipulate the situation out of an emotional response to Strong in order to guarantee the flag. The motivations are not clear, but the contact was initiated by the linesman. Strong had his hands behind his back and his back to the camera. This call gave OKST a free 15 yards. This call should be investigated by the Big XII and the head of officials should have to justify this penalty in an official statement. Additionally, coaches tend to be given tons of rope. The fact that the linesman let his emotions get the better of him means he is not ready for primetime.

Call Grade: F

1:37: Delay of game. OKST ball.

Call Grade: A

Overall Comments: The officials’ crew should exist outside of the game and should be there to restore equity and fair play when it is taken away by illegal acts on the field. The crew on Saturday failed their charge and became a second adversary to the Texas football team and themselves became an unfair advantage to Oklahoma State. The calls were out of balance relative to the play on the field and several crucial calls were made that appeared to be decisions by officials in their first year of officiating middle school football. The Big XII should get their house in order. These officials are so far behind that they should not officiate another game of consequence this season. 

Those are my notes. I do not subscribe to the deliberate pigeon-holing of Texas, however, the officials in the Big XII have been morbid for years and this game was one of the worst I have ever seen in terms of equity and fair play. It cannot get worse without becoming deliberate, so I guess Strong has that to look forward to next week.


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