Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Officiating

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Truly awful officiating marred Oklahoma State’s otherwise thrilling, 30-27 win Saturday at Texas.

The Longhorns were hit with 16 flags for 128 yards, some of which came at crucial junctures in the hotly contested conference opener for both teams. A defensive holding call against Poona Ford — on a run play, of all things — has become the flagship blown penalty of the day.

It set the stage for Charlie Strong to get an unsportsmanlike penalty call from line judge Kelly Deterding who, as far as I can see, bumps Strong just before throwing the flag.

Big 12 officiating supervisor Walt Anderson said he didn’t see the contention, per ESPN.com’s Max Olson. On the contrary, Anderson was “generally pleased.”

Strong, careful not to assign blame to the officials in his Monday press conference, did offer that it was the most “one-sided” contest he’d ever seen.

Neither Strong nor Anderson are completely wrong. I don’t expect Anderson to publicly throw his officials under the bus immediately after the fact, nor do I expect Strong to stay silent about what was a poorly called and very much one-sided game.

Where Anderson whiffs his the lack of transparency. He gave Olson a vague response about “specific plays” missing the mark. And indeed, all officials in every game across all sports will miss “specific plays.”

The Ford hold is shaky, but understandable in the context of the game. Strong’s unsportsmanlike penalty is absurd, especially when it appears Deterding instigates. And flags against players not even on the field?

“Specific plays” such as that deserve mention.

The Pac-12, long regarded as the worst officiated conference in college football, welcomed new director David Coleman this offseason. Among Coleman’s early efforts include more transparency, as the conference has sent detailed video to media that includes audio breakdown of various calls.

It’s a big step toward bridging the gap between officials and fans, and perhaps assuaging some of the concerns that run rampant.

When Strong called Saturday’s game the most one-sided he’d seen, I presume it’s because Louisville played during the Nebraska-Texas A&M game of 2010, which is in the running with Oregon-Oklahoma from 2006 as the worst officiated game I’ve ever seen.

Such contests spark paranoia. The Big 12 is punishing Nebraska for joining the Big Ten! The Pac-10 is trying to improve its BCS chance by eliminating Oklahoma!

Just this week, lowly Vanderbilt was on the wrong end of a horrifically flag against Ole Miss, which just happens to be the SEC’s pace-setter after beating Alabama.

Gotta protect No. 1, right?

The Big 12 has arguably been the most frequent target for accusations of favoritism toward one program. Ironically, that’s been Texas.

The chorus emanating from other Big 12 fan bases is that Texas got what was coming to it. The Horns have been on the receiving end of some favorable officiating miscues, like the 2013 game against Iowa State, which prompted the below tirade from Paul Rhoads.

Officiating is a difficult job. But then, so is coaching. As Strong said Monday:

“The officials officiate and coaches coach.” Strong said. “We’ve just got to do a better job.”

Strong refers to his coaching staff doing a better job, but the same is true for the Big 12. It’s been true for a while now.