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Subject: Re: The Last Word?

Ivy Inquisitor (Compromise)
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Date Posted: 14:47:39 12/01/21 Wed
In reply to: Joe Friday 's message, "The Last Word?" on 11:07:42 11/30/21 Tue

The game was decided on the field and it should stay that way. Had Harvard been awarded league champion along with Dartmouth and Princeton this issue would be resolved. We already have a split championship. What’s the harm of adding one more?

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[> Subject: Taking Your Chances and Other Thoughts

David Perry (Pox on All Houses)
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Date Posted: 23:36:50 12/03/21 Fri

As you might imagine, I have not been tremendously engaged by Ivy football this season (which is a pity, because before it started, I had the most anticipation I'd had for a season in a long time.) That being said, I have to admit this whole thing intrigues me, so at the risk of rushing where angels fear to tread, I'll give my opinions.

1.) The fundamental mistake the refs made was not watching for the timeout. In that situation, anyone who knows anything about football knows that there is a very strong likelihood that the defense will call a timeout once they see the offensive formation. How that crew could not have at least one person assigned to keep an ear cocked towards the Princeton sideline is beyond me.
2.) Once that mistake was made, the die was cast; there was no way to avoid someone getting screwed. Had the play been allowed to stand, Princeton would have the same right to complain that Harvard does now; they forcefully attempted to call a timeout they were entitled to and were ignored. The refs, through incompetence, put themselves in a situation where there was no good solution to the problem.
3.) The NCAA screwed up by writing an ambiguous rule. As others have pointed out, it basically says, "This isn't reviewable--unless it's really, really important that you review it." That is just begging for trouble like this. A similar situation occurred in the celebrated case of Brett v. Martin (1981), where one could reasonably make two interpretations: one, that having pine tar too far up the bat should be punished simply by requiring a change of bat, or two, that excessive pine tar should be grounds for ejection from the game and the nullification of any hit made on the play. In cases like this, I think there are two main factors to consider: precedent (what has the typical practice been) and equity (what is the fairest solution to the problem). In the older case, I think the the American League properly held that *both* factors favored the Royals: precedent said that no one had ever been ejected and had a hit thrown out for having pine tar too far up the bat, and equity argued that having too much tar did not give any competitive advantage; the rule was merely about keeping the ball clean. The current question, on the other hand, clearly set the two principles against one another. On the one hand, we know of no previous example of replay being used to determine if a timeout was called before a play started. On the other hand, the equitable response was that Princeton did everything they could to get a timeout, and should not lose the game because of the refs' failure to pay attention. Personally, I would have leaned towards equity in this one myself, both because the rule was ambiguous and also because ruling as they did still left Harvard with a chance to win, whereas going with precedent was guaranteed to screw Princeton.
4.) The League screwed up by not having their ducks all in a row. While I do think it was proper to point out that the refs messed up, they erred by not identifying the correct source of the problem, which was the failure to see the timeout being called, and also by not carefully reading the rules before making the statement and recognizing the ambiguity of the rules. As such, I think it was improper for them to them to suggest that the result was unjust, when it would have been at least as unjust if it had gone in the other direction.
5.) I do recognize what others have said about the potential to game the system with timeouts and replay, and in general I think that replay is becoming overused and is too much of a crutch for the refs. I would be in favor of the NCAA rewriting the rule to make it very clear that certain things are reviewable and other things aren't, and to allow no leeway for the importance of the situation. At the same time, however, I also think it would be appropriate to develop a Dick Tracy-type watch like the ones FIFA refs use to receive rulings on whether the ball has fully entered the goal or not, except that in this case it would be wirelessly connected to buttons on the sidelines, and when the coaches wanted to call timeouts, they could push the button, and the watch would display the name of the team asking for the TO.
6.) I have watched a lot of sports in my life and seen a lot of bad decisions, but in the absence of clear fixing or other blatant favoritism (which I don't think anyone is suggesting happened here), I have never fundamentally blamed the refs for my teams losing. My reason is this: there's always something you could have done better. If you win every game in a blowout, you never have to worry about the refs, but if you leave things to chance, sometimes that chance will go against you. The worst screwing one of my teams ever got was the infamous fog game between the Eagles and the Bears, but even there, the Birds had plenty of chances to take the lead in the first half when it was clear and did not do so; had they succeeded, it would have been Chicago who got jobbed by the NFL's pigheaded refusal to delay games. The fact is that Harvard, who had the second best offense in the league this season, failed to score a touchdown on offense in regulation, and therefore squandered a very good effort by their defense against the Tigers. Even after the contretemps, they had four more cracks at either winning the game or keeping it going and missed all four of them. I'm sorry, and it pains me greatly to take Nassau's side on anything, but ultimately, I can't be sympathetic to Harvard here.

Ceterum censeo Priore terminandam esse!

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[> [> Subject: Brett v. Martin case

Go Green
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Date Posted: 07:17:37 12/04/21 Sat

Also worth mentioning is that the Yankees knew full well that Brett was using too much pine tar on his bat, but waited until he did something to hurt them to complain.

I don't think that went over well with the American League.

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[> [> Subject: Re: Taking Your Chances and Other Thoughts

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Date Posted: 07:28:43 12/04/21 Sat

Not everyone may be convinced, but your case is stated as cogently as possible and much more thoroughly than I have heard before.

Even if the final part seems a bit harsh.

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[> [> Subject: Robin Harris, America Turns Its Lonely Eyes to You

An Observer
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Date Posted: 15:12:03 12/04/21 Sat

David, thanks for a cogent and articulate summary of where we stand. In particular, I like that you shone a light on two points:

(1) We all know that the overtime rules changed this year, so everybody is getting familiar with the alternating two-point conversion attempts starting in the third overtime. You make a great observation that, in such a situation, officials should EXPECT the head coach of the defensive team to call time-out once the offense has revealed its formation.

This is especially true when it's the bottom half of the inning and the coach of the defensive team has no incentive to conserve his one time out for that inning. Princeton had already failed in its top half of the inning before Surace tried to call time out.

(5) [using your numbering of paragraphs] As Ivy Guy first noted in another, much older thread on this subject, we're just asking for trouble on these alternating two-point conversions because the coaches are confined to the coaching box thirty yards away from the goal line action.

The Dick Tracy watch would be fun, but failing that, how about a simple red flag that coaches could throw onto the field, a la the challenge flag in the NFL? Coaches would still have the traditional means of getting an official's attention, but the red flag would be an unambiguous method of calling time out which *IS* clear on video replay. Let's say you arbitrarily say a coach must throw his time out flag inside the numbers. As long as the flag is on the ground inside the numbers before the snap, the time out is valid. You could just do this for overtime, when each play's importance is magnified, especially starting in the third frame.

Finally, I like your even-handed take in your last full paragraph (6), a general admonition against teams complaining about the officiating too much. I agree with that broad sentiment, but I also feel strongly that, if Harvard deserves to win the game by even the narrowest margin, Harvard deserves to win. It's not incumbent upon Harvard to blow out Princeton, they just need to be one point better when the final, post-video replay gun goes off.

Overralll, a terrific summaryy., David I think we all agree that the ball right now is the the court of the Ivy League office. Both Harvard and Princeton deserve a more throrough explanna ion of why the League office does not believe tor support the clear langauage in Article 7.

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[> [> Subject: Easy to be simplistic; hard to be simple.

Valmas (Sullen)
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Date Posted: 21:01:07 12/04/21 Sat

I chose to do us on the following paragraph, as recently put forward by Mr. Perry: "The fundamental mistake the refs made was not watching for the timeout. In that situation, anyone who knows anything about football knows that there is a very strong likelihood that the defense will call a timeout once they see the offensive formation. How that crew could not have at least one person assigned to keep an ear cocked towards the Princeton sideline is beyond me."

Note that the NCAA overtime procedure is such that the nearest on field official to a coach (Surace) is at least 75 feet away from him, and with his back to the coach. Factor in powerful crowd noise; an event that's already demanded four hours from each official in terms of the maximal mental and physical energy each has to offer; and finally, this small detail of bearing full responsibility to monitor a fast moving play that's about to unfold which could very well decide the game's outcome. As far as having "an ear cocked to the Princeton sideline"... officials are required to be certain the head coach is making the timeout request before it's actually granted-
assistants don't have that same privilege; not that knowledge of such will ever prevent assistants from muddying the waters by asking for a timeout, anyway!

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[> [> [> Subject: Re: Easy to be simplistic; hard to be simple.

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Date Posted: 09:54:55 12/05/21 Sun

This is the Ivy League. "Powerful Crowd Noise" does not apply here.

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[> [> [> [> Subject: observer:Only responding to a man who says the refs' handling of the H v. P 4th OT was "beyond" him.

Valmas (Steaming)
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Date Posted: 12:06:44 12/05/21 Sun

10,500 people in a small stadium CAN generate quite a bit of noise; particularly at the overtime stage of a game where the outcome of the event hangs in the balance. Add to that, ten Princeton assistants, contributing to the maelstrom, by howling their own time out requests. Remember, the granting official needs to be certain Surace's the one requesting the time out- what of the possible scenario wherein an official grants a timeout request (having mistaken the assistant coach's cry for that of the head); Surace then uses the next five seconds to take inventory; realizes he doesn't really want the timeout in that instance; and then blurts out to the referees, "I never asked for a timeout!"

What the officials did that day was "beyond" this poor fellow, not because the referees were less than perfect, but rather because he's never been on the field to have any idea what the magnitude of this situation was all about.

Moreover, this same person submitted another self serving piece a month or so ago, wherein he wrote that if one has a problem with blowout games, blame the team getting blown away! Seems to me that if he'd ever taken part in a 63-0 ass whipping, on the losing end of things, he'd no doubt remember the taste of that as not being very good.

Easy for any one us to be (overly) simplistic- very hard sometimes to make matters simple.

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[> [> [> [> [> Subject: Probably worth mentioning...

Go Green
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Date Posted: 06:33:23 12/06/21 Mon

You could also probably say that the refs' attention was on the field.

They have to watch for false start/procedure penalties, count players, keep an eye on the play clock, you know--stuff like that.

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[> [> [> [> [> [> Subject: That's absolutely right, GG!

Valmas (Sizzling.)
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Date Posted: 11:15:41 12/06/21 Mon

What happens on the field, from the moments prior to the snap till the instant the down ends, matters greatly, and can explode on you in a hurry if you're not completely tuned in. Typically, two officials line up in the backfield before any down commences; 25 or more yards away from the nearest head coach during an overtime period, and NEVER directly facing either sideline. One such official (the referee) prioritizes the quarterback and action around him at the snap and immediately thereafter. The other backfield official (the Umpire) concentrates on the snap, itself, any untoward action against the snapper and interior line play. Neither of the two backfield officials can be fixated on Bob Surace in possible observance of his potential time out request- that wouldn't be fair to the game, NOR to Coach Murphy, who may beat Surace to the punch by requesting a timeout, himself, in that situation.

So, there's a lot more going on as part of an overtime down scenario than meets the eye of an Observer, observer; or any delusional, pompous-assed Ivy League affiliate, believing the world can't do without his/her immediate input about who is to blame- for action(s) taking place on a carpet he's never in his life dared to place a toe upon!

It's to the credit of men like you, GG, who've played the Ivy League version of the game so well, that the officials aren't asked to intrude on game action more often than is already the case. And it's a tribute to the Ivy League game officials -to their level of preparedness, competence and consistency in offering maximal physical exertion and mental concentration, from down to down- that an event as took place during that fourth overtime at Princeton is just an outlier, and not more of a commonplace occurrence. As chronicled on these pages, Ivy League football officials demonstrated a 99.75% success rate on plays they monitored during the just completed season- with a number such as that on your transcript, GG, you'd have surely been asked to give the valedictory address at Dartmouth College in any of our nation's recent two-hundred and fifty years.

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[> [> [> [> [> Subject: Only responding to a man who says the refs' handling of the H v. P 4th OT was "beyond" him.

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Date Posted: 10:31:08 12/06/21 Mon

As someone who was as close to Surace as the ref (but behind him) the pandemonium was very much ss Valmas describes, exacerbated by the limits of the coaches’ box, and much yelling from BOTH sidelines, never mind the stands. And since the game had been reduced to the closed end of the stadium, fans had moved downfield to get a better look, which is easy in the lower deck with the broad concourse.

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