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Blog Entry

Conflict of interest in replay for Arizona?

Posted on: October 15, 2010 3:18 am
 

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Oregon State defeated Arizona 29-27 last week, and the final margin doesn't accurately reflect how well the Beavers outpaced the Wildcats over the course of the evening. Sure, Nick Foles' 440 yards of passing were massive (that's literally a quarter of a mile, in one game), but Arizona never led, nor did they show much defensive acuity -- even after James Rodgers went down with that horrific knee injury.

So how did the Wildcats hang close, exactly? Some of it was obviously their own considerable skill, but the Portland Tribune has alleged that another reason is that the Wildcats had a thumb on the scale -- namely, with a partisan in the replay booth. 

Here's the Tribune's assessment of the situation:

The replay official [was] a Tucson citizen, an Arizona grad and, according to one source, a donor to the school’s athletic department.

The man working Saturday was Jim Fogltance, a former Pac-10 football crew chief who earned his degree from the UA in 1967.

Among the disputed plays:

• Rodgers’ first-quarter catch of a low ball that was ruled a reception by the game officials. After review, the call was overturned.

• Rodgers’ 3-yard catch later in the quarter that was ruled a touchdown by the game officials. After review, the call was overturned.

• A first-quarter bomb caught by Arizona’s Juron Criner that was ruled a touchdown by game officials. It appeared that Criner landed on the 1-yard-line and rolled into the end zone. After review, the call was upheld.

• Then, a catch by an Arizona receiver — similar to the Rodgers’ play — that was ruled a reception by game officials. Fogltance chose not to review the play.

It's also my recollection that the play preceding the touchdown that put Oregon State up 23-13 was itself a legitimate score, but that replay officials ruled Jacquizz Rodgers out of bounds at the 1-yard line when he had actually scored. I'd like to be able to prove that, and I freely admit that I may be wrong -- I watched 13 hours of football that day, after all -- but there are no legal ways (and no trustworthy illegal ways) for me to re-watch that portion of the game to double-check. That seems incredible in this day and age of information sharing, but this is what happens when media access guidelines are excessively restrictive. Anyway, it's a moot point since Oregon State scored on the very next play.

Of the four calls mentioned, the Criner "touchdown" was easily the most egregiously bad decision; Criner was clearly down while the ball was feet (not inches) away from crossing the plane. Granted, the odds of scoring a touchdown on first-and-goal from the 1 are pretty awesome -- there's literally no better position for scoring other than "standing in the end zone and holding the football while the referee signals a touchdown" -- but it's not an absolute certainty, and Oregon State at least deserved the right to make Arizona earn that last yard, right?

And really, this would all be a non-story if it weren't for the fact that the replay official is -- and there's really no other way to put it -- an Arizona man. He lives in Tucson, he's a UA grad, and he's apparently a donor. Do we know that these facts swayed his ability to call the game impartially? No, of course not. They probably didn't affect it at all. Probably. And we can't know for sure, because those confounding factors exist, and the mere appearance of a conflict of interest is enough to compromise the integrity of the officiating in the eyes of many. That mistake's on the Pac-10, not Fogltance, who never should have been put in such a position to begin with. His work affects the game, after all, and it would make a lot of Pac-10 fans happier if the replay official didn't have any incentive -- acted upon or not -- to swing any calls one way or another.

Comments

Since: Oct 7, 2008
Posted on: October 16, 2010 11:15 am
 

Conflict of interest in replay for Arizona?

The facts are incredible. How can the Pac-10 allow this to happen? I am not questioning honesty or competence of the man placed in this untenable position but how can he be put there in the first place! This is the equivalent of Hank Steinbrenner calling balls and strikes in the Yankees-Rangers series. The perception of bias cannot be avoided. Whoever assigned this official should be shown the door immediately.



Since: Dec 17, 2007
Posted on: October 15, 2010 5:57 pm
 

Conflict of interest in replay for Arizona?

It is curious how this thread starts with Oregon State vrs Arizona and gets confused with Oregon vrs Oklahoma. These are different schools, guys. Are there some Sooner fans that are still sore a couple years later? If so, maybe you should focus your energy at winning bowl games instead.

Regarding boosters fulfilling this type of position: Is there any question that this is a conflict of interest? Obviously, it shouldn't be allowed. To that point, no one working at officiating or overseeing any sport that generates this type of money should have any type of affiliation to one of participating schools. Does it surprise me that happens?

Duh.




Since: Nov 23, 2009
Posted on: October 15, 2010 5:50 pm
 

Conflict of interest in replay for Arizona?

Just to clarify, I wouldn't give much consideration to an article in the Portland Tribune.  They certainly are not 'the voice of most Beaver fans."  It's not like they're a major publication, they tend to be far more of a local far right rag.  Need I say more.  Anything they can find to whine about, they will.



Since: Nov 14, 2008
Posted on: October 15, 2010 5:35 pm
 

Conflict of interest in replay for Arizona?

Of the four "dubious" replay moments mentioned, three were the right call. The Criner TD was off, but I can't recall the last time I watched a game where the officials didn't screw something up.

Oregon State is pathetic to whine about this. They won! You know you are a real *#@* when even after a victory all you can do is complain. How about checking into this stuff and making it an issue BEFORE the game, instead of waiting until after? 




Since: Nov 23, 2009
Posted on: October 15, 2010 5:17 pm
 

Conflict of interest in replay for Arizona?

Azmohave, this story wasn't really a whine fest about Fogltance, it's about the appearance of impropriety. 

If the author was questioning Fogltance's integrity he would not have stated the following which is a direct quote.
"Do we know that these facts swayed his ability to call the game impartially? No, of course not. They probably didn't affect it at all."

The point that is being made is that allowing a situation like this to occur,  opens the door for abuse of the officiating process and simultaniously lends a level of credence to accusations made by teams who may feel they have been victims of said abuse.  Better to simply do a more thorough job of vetting your officiating crew and rendering this argument moot. 



Since: Oct 15, 2010
Posted on: October 15, 2010 4:45 pm
 

Conflict of interest in replay for Arizona?

Agreed.  That was the worst call EVER in the history of sport.  Some people lament about the fact that the ball was touched illegally by Oregon.  Those who are more astute about pointing out elephants at tea parties note that the ball was immediately recovered by an Oklahoma player who got up out of the pile and handed the ball to an official who was coming in from about the Oklahoma 30 yard line.  Both of these events are clearly visible in many angles of replay. 



Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: October 15, 2010 2:55 pm
 

Conflict of interest in replay for Arizona?

The fact that the Pac 10 (or any BCS conference) would allow a replay official or any member of the field officiating crew that has had ANY kind of association with either particpating school to work one of their games (whether it's a conference or non-conference game) is absolutely absurd.

There is no way on earth this type of nonsense should still be taking place in 2010.

This revelation is especially disturbing when you consider the fact that new Pac 10 Commissioner Larry Scott is regarded as the newest rising star among the power brokers of college athletics.

Scott needs to take immediate action to eliminate any and all potential of interest situations that can potentially influence the outcome of a game.

In this day and age, the replay official is as important as any member of the field officiating crew and common sense justifies that the background and school affiliations of these individuals be closely checked.




Since: Jun 9, 2009
Posted on: October 15, 2010 12:26 pm
 

Conflict of interest in replay for Arizona?

The Ducks beat Oklahoma a few years ago in Eugene when a replay official with Oregon ties ruled incorrectly on an onside kick at the end of the game.  Replay officials should be as neutral in the booth as officials on the field are supposed to be.  BTW, I'm a rabid Duck fan.



Since: Apr 20, 2009
Posted on: October 15, 2010 12:00 pm
 

Conflict of interest in replay for Arizona?

i believe the replay booth guy for the Big 12 championship game last year between TExas and Nebraska had Texas ties. 



Since: Nov 4, 2007
Posted on: October 15, 2010 11:07 am
 

Conflict of interest in replay for Arizona?

Why would they let someone who has close ties to a team work in the replay booth?   That's absurd.


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