By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor
Enid News and Eagle
So, did the Big 12 apologize to Oklahoma State or not? That seems to be the question left hanging in the air this past week after The Oklahoman reported Wednesday the conference’s head of officials, Walt Anderson, contacted OSU head coach Mike Gundy to apologize for not calling a fumble on the winning play in Texas’ 41-36 over the Cowboys.
The newspaper stated their source told them Anderson “apologized profusely,” acknowledging Longhorns’ running back Joe Bergeron fumbled the ball before reaching the goal line on the play that was ruled a touchdown with just under two minutes to play.
Ah, those unnamed sources. They can be a bane or boon to a newspaper reporter. The problem with unnamed sources is they can leave you hanging out to dry with no worries about accountability.
No sooner did the newspaper report hit cyberspace than the Big 12 denied any such apology happened, taking to Twitter with the following message: “Reports that the Big 12 acknowledged a blown call and issued an apology to Oklahoma State are inaccurate.”
So much surrounding college football seems to take on a cold war atmosphere of secrecy and distrust. The powers-that-be distrust the press and attempt to control the flow of information. It’s enough to make proud the old Soviet Union propagandists who controlled Pravda.
OSU athletic department officials denied ever having been contacted or offered an apology and the Big 12’s media contact said in an email communication according to The Oklahoman that “per the conference’s officiating program protocol, dialogue regularly occurs between coaches/administrators and conference staff.” But apparently that dialogue is never meant to see the light of day, witness the reluctance of sources willing to go on the record.
We are not talking about an obscure encroachment penalty here. We are talking about a game-changing play before 56,709 witnesses and countless more who watched it live on Fox and questioned the call.
But at this point the issue is less about whether the officials blew the call and more about shining a light on the process. It’s a light that too many college officials and coaches avoid like protagonists in one of the “Twilight” films.
The desire to cloak their world in secrecy was seen recently when OSU pulled the rug out from under the media on freshman quarterback Wes Lunt’s injury status.
Shortly after Lunt was hurt in OSU’s victory over Louisiana-Lafayette, OSU promised to provide a report on Lunt in line with its policy on injury updates. Such an update was critical since Lunt already was off-limits to the press thanks to OSU’s policy of not making first-year players available.
However, just before the Texas game, OSU put out a statement indicating such updates would no longer be provided because “those reports have led to unintended consequences.”
Obviously the powers-that-be don’t like having a light shined on their inner sanctum. We already know they won’t apologize for it either. Certainly not publicly.
Ruthenberg is sports editor at the News & Eagle. Contact him at email@example.com.