I am an old Big 8/Big 12 fan and over the last few years, especially as the Big 12 has turned into a fantasy football league of pigskins flying like mallards in duck season, something has struck me.
Big 12 officials largely ignore offensive line holding penalties, even the outright and obvious WWF, clothelines, strangle hold take downs.
Yeah, yeah, I know.
Holding can be called on the offensive line nearly every play. I am astute enough and have watched more than enough football in my day to know and understand that old adage.
But, from what I have seen over many years, it is getting ridiculous! At least that is, in the Big 12.
This isn't a thought that I just recently formulated. No, it has been on my mind for a long long time and in talking and listening to many other fans it appears that I am not the only fan that has noticed.
I am speaking, not as a Nebraska fan, but as a fan of the Big 12 conference as a whole. There is obviously a problem with the way holding is interpreted by Big 12 referees or they just purposely choose to ignore it.
Are Big 12 referee's just bad or is there something else keeping the yellow flag in their pocket? You tell me. I want to know what the consensus is among other fans of the Big 12.
What could that something else be? Well, we know that college football and its soul is owned by the television networks and the contracts. I think we also know that television and its viewership enjoy high scoring, high flying shootouts.
Draw your own conclusion. I know what mine is.
Who benefits from referees that stick their heads in the sand and let offensive lineman do their dance with the defensive team?
Well, I will try to be as politically correct as I can, but this is what I see.
A few teams that in recent years, have turned to largely passing offenses, that have quarterback's protected by gargantuan offensive lineman. I won't name names, but a few teams south of the Kansas-Oklahoma border come to mind.
Is that clear enough?
I wonder if a headset conversation like the following has ever gone on between an Offensive Coordinator and Head Coach on game day in the Big 12.
OC: Hey Coach?
HC: Yeah, what's up?
OC: (Chuckling under his breath) Do you see what our offensive line is allowed to do to the defense?
HC: (More chuckling under breath) Yeah, I see it.
OC: You know what that means, right?
HC: (Now snickering) Yes, I hear what you're saying. Keep chucking the pigskin!
An incredible little factoid that I have witnessed many times over the years goes like this.
I've seen it time and time again. At times, I find it amusing to a degree. But, other times it is absolutely maddening! It's late in the game, the game has long ago been decided and, low and behold what happens?
Out comes a little yellow hankie, and for what? For holding on the offensive line that has been doing it for 3.5 quarters!
For the defensive team, that has been getting mugged all game long, I say thank you Big 12 referee. But, where was this flag in the first quarter before they put up 350+ yards passing, six touchdown passes and their quarterback hasn't been knocked down the entire game!!??
To me it comes off as nothing more than a "token" penalty on the offensive line that has been holding and mugging the other teams' defensive players the entire game.
Almost as if they throw that flag just so they can't be accused of "ignoring or blatantly refusing to call holding."
This type of officiating does nothing but hurt every team in the Big 12 and the Big 12 as a whole.
Almost annually now, and these teams know who they are, a few high profile Big 12 teams that love to throw the ball, get to bowl season and suddenly they lay an egg offensively.
It happened this past bowl season when two of these three teams lost bowl games and were made to look really bad on offense, and a third squeaked out a win. But, even the Big 12 team that did win it's BCS game wasn't nearly as effective offensively as they were in the Big 12.
That is extrmely interesting to me.
It's not just bad defense in the Big 12. The Big 12 still has good coaches on defense and those coaches recruit good athletes and put them on the defensive side of the ball!
Suddenly, the offensive lines of these teams are held responsible for playing within the rules of the game by officials with no ties to the Big 12.
I say, "Right on!," to these unbiased officials who call it like it should be called and make the offensive lines play on a level playing field.
Defensive ends are suddenly able to get around mammoth tackles, linebacker blitzes get to the quarterback because they can't be impeded by the outstretched arm of an offensive lineman that would clothesline a linebacker in the Big 12.
That is the way the game is supposed to be called.