Big 10 acknowledges mistakes in last year’s OSU/Illinois game

In which I preface the whining with relevant factual information…
At last week’s Big Ten meetings, Dispatch writer Ken Gordon cornered Big Ten coordinator of officials Dave Parry about the officiating mistakes during last year’s OSU/Illinois game.

Asked if he was upset about the non-called fumble that gave Illinois a TD and momentum for the game, he said:

“Absolutely… I’ve got to be careful what I say, but strong measures were taken. It was not a happy command center at that moment.”

It’s a small statement, but it’s been long awaited. The Big Ten refused to comment on the issue after the game — even after an investigation revealed that the game’s referee, Stephan Pamon, had a history of casino gambling-caused bankruptcy, and had been disciplined the week prior for incompetence during the Purdue/Penn State game.

The Big 10 has not renewed Stephan Pamon’s contract for the 2008 season.

So even though ten months have passed, there’s a satisfaction in this de facto acknowledgment by conference higher-ups that some amount of officiating errors played a role in the outcome of the game.

In which I continue to whine about the game…
I know it’s “balanced and politically correct” of me to say that the fumble wasn’t the reason for the Buckeye’s loss. But I can’t do it. Did the OSU defense fail to force a punt on that last 8 minute drive? Yes. Did the Vest make the biggest sideline mistake of his coaching career in calling a time out, right when Zook was about to give Beanie and Boeckman the ball back? Yes. But both of those situations should be viewed in the context of the earlier abhorrent officiating.

Illinois scored after the non-called fumble, tying the game. It should be noted that, at that point, OSU was dominating. Later, a missed call on an obvious pick play allowed Illinois to score another TD.

In other words, had Pamon’s crew been just a smidge more competent, Illinois would likely have had 14 fewer points late in the game, putting them at least one TD behind the Buckeyes – maybe more.

It is in this context where we must examine the player execution and coaching mistakes of the late fourth quarter. Would Zook have been running QB sneaks for the last eight minutes of the game if his team was down by one or two TDs, or even if the two teams were tied? Not likely.

In which I continue to whine about past trends…
For the past half-decade, OSU has finished at or near the bottom of the 119 Div I-A (FBS) schools in opponent penalties (penalties applied to Buckeye opponents). Consider just the past four seasons:

Seriously – why isn’t this trend a bigger deal to everyone? Regardless of whatever team holds your loyalty, doesn’t anyone else find this trend a mite suspicious?

Or are we really supposed to believe that all of OSU’s opponents for the past five years suddenly displayed their best behavior when playing the Buckeyes?


  1. I apologize retroactively for such a poorly written article. Wow… so much room for improvement, there.

  2. Looking at those CFB stats, I don’t think OSU is singled-out for special attention. There appears to be a reasonably consistent cluster of who’s at the bottom, and who’s at the top of that list. Smaller/weaker schools (Minnesota excepted!) seem to be at the top, while larger more dominant programs are at the bottom. From this, one can infer that the smaller schools get a “pass” from the officials, which is not an unreasonable response when a team is getting their asses kicked.

  3. Ron – I agree that there’s _somewhat_ of a trend. But “better schools trending toward the bottom” is way different than “consistently dead last year after year after year.”

    Texas, for instance, in their title year of 2005, finished rather high (28th). And the other dominant programs of the past few years that DO “cluster” toward the bottom of the scale are scattered hapazardly… a bit higher some years, lower others, switching places, etc.

    Only OSU has been dead last four of the past five years.

    I think what it signals is a _unique_ behavior among Big 10 officials. Take USC – they’ve been just as dominant in the Pac 10 as OSU has in the Big 10 – perhaps even more so – yet PAC 10 officials are calling more penalties on their opponents.

    No, I still argue that OSU’s situation is unique, here.

  4. The thing about the no-call on the Benn “pick” in the endzone for Illinois TD was that it happened about 10 feet in front of the back judge(and he was looking right at it…annoying).

    That whole game just had a strange feel to it, and some of the facts that came out concerning the officiating crew (after the fact) were not surprising…at all

  5. generaladm says

    I agree with you that the officiating affected the outcome of the Illinois game, but you were wrong on one point. When Tressel called the timeout before the punt, OSU had 12 men on the field. There would have been a 5 yard penalty, and ILL would have retained possession anyway. In the moment, it was the right call.

  6. generaladm – yes, I know that Tressel had 12 or 13 men on the field, as Illinois was setting up to punt. But this is because of a bunch of confusion was happening on the sidelines, for which there is no excuse… which is what I meant by “biggest sideline mistake.” It certainly was his “costliest.”

    The coaches should have made sure the players knew what down it was and to get off the field if the 3rd down stop occurred (which it did). They didn’t, and some players were setting up for fourth and others were setting up for punt. Total mayhem and loss of control by the coaching staff.

    Tressel himself said that he shouldn’t have called the TO, and should have taken his chances w/ the too many men penalty (shoot, the refs missed everything else that day):

  7. I-L-L … I-N-I !!!

    Love you bro. I love your blog except that it mentions the Buckeyes so often.

    Don’t forget to blog about the time that Illinois lost to Michigan (MUCK FICHIGAN) at the end of 2003 season because the ref blew a call on ground-forced fumble that gave the ball over to UMich instead of giving Illinois their earned first down.

    Good times!


  1. […] factoid of the day: the Buckeyes have have finished dead last — 119th — for three straight years in opponent penalty yards per game. The good teams are definitely going to get the shorter end of […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: