|Aaron Craft (4) hits game-winner Sunday |
over Iowa State. (AP Photo)
All of the commotion revolving around the questionable charging call against Iowa State, during their third round tournament game against Ohio State on Sunday in Dayton, reminds me of when the Buckeyes defeated the University of Miami in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl.
In overtime of the Buckeyes' 31-24 victory over the Hurricanes in Tempe (Ariz.), Miami was called for pass interference on fourth down, giving Ohio State the football on the one, as well as a first down. The highly questionable call allowed the Buckeyes to remain alive, and eventually win their seventh national championship in school-history.
More on that in moment.
On Sunday, with less than a minute to play — and the game tied at 75 apiece — Iowa State's Will Clyburn penetrated to the basket, rose up and banked in the shot, while appearing to be fouled by Ohio State's Aaron Craft.
However, the referee waved off the basket, and called Clyburn for a charge instead. After a number of TV reviews, it appeared that Craft's heels were off the ground, hovering above the restriction line, meaning it should have been called a blocking foul.
The correct call would have given the Cyclones a two-point lead, and a trip to the line for a free throw.
Instead, the Buckeyes gained possession, held the ball until the final moments, and won the game as Craft knocked down a three-point shot with 0.5 seconds remaining on the clock. The shot advanced the Buckeyes to their fourth straight "Sweet 16" appearance.
Back to the Fiesta Bowl ...
Most would say that the Buckeyes were lucky because the refs saved them on fourth down ... for which I say, "Horse hockey."
What about the blown call late in the fourth quarter, when a Craig Krenzel pass to Chris Gamble was ruled incomplete, when television replay clearly showed that he caught it and got a foot inbounds? There was no replay in college football at that time, but if it had been ruled correctly, the play would have given the Buckeyes a first down, and would've allowed them to run out the clock with a 17-14 win.
Also, one play after the blown call by the ref on Gamble's catch, Miami's Kelly Jennings clearly held Ohio State receiver Michael Jenkins — so badly that announcer Dan Fouts admitted the ref blew it, saying he got away with murder. That would have also given the Buckeyes a first down — and the knee for the win. Instead, it created fourth down and allowed the Hurricanes a chance to kick a last second field goal to force overtime.
The refs didn't win it for anyone on that night in Tempe.
After the Buckeyes scored two touchdowns in overtime, the Hurricanes had a chance to win it on their own, as they had a first-and-goal from the 1-yard line — following another questionable interference call.
They were shut out of the end zone by the Ohio State defense on four straight plays. The 'Canes LOST.
Back to Sunday ...
The charging call, unfortunately for the Cyclones, didn't happen in slow motion. However, nobody can say that the refs lost them the game on that call.
First, there were many questionable/blown calls throughout the contest — as always — and just because this one particular foul happened with under a minute to play in the game doesn't make it any more of a bad call than the one whistled on Ohio State's Sam Thompson in the first half, when he clearly blocked the Iowa State shot cleanly.
Also ... let's say that a blocking foul would have been called. It would have only put the Cyclones up by two. Sure, he would have had a free throw coming to him, but there's no guarantee he would have made it. If he had, Craft's three would have forced overtime. If he would have missed the free throw, Craft's clutch shot is still a game-winner.
None of those scenarios say the Cyclones are victorious. There was no "win" taken away.
Just like a decade ago in Tempe, the Buckeyes won the game ...
Not the refs.