West Virginia beat the Big 12 Conference (and TCU)

Make no mistake about it, the Big 12 Conference wanted TCU to beat the West Virginia Mountaineers in last night’s regular season finale for both teams, paving the way for bowl eligibility for the Horned Frogs.

The Big 12 Conference wanted TCU to win for two very obvious reasons:  1.) More prestige for the conference.  A TCU win sends them to a bowl game, which is good for the conference. 2.) The most obvious and undeniable reason, of course, is the almighty dollar.  Money.  A TCU win means more money for the conference.  A West Virginia win does nothing for the conference.

For an entity whose sole reasons for existing are building prestige and making money, there’s very little reason for the Big 12 Conference to value fair play over doing whatever it takes to ensure that the right team – the team that makes them the most money – wins.

It takes a special kind of naivete and innocence to believe that the Big 12 Conference, or any conference in major college sports, puts the safety of the student athlete or fair, honest play before making money.  Take the example of the overturned targeting call at the end of the first half of the West Virginia/TCU game.

To begin, calls are rarely if ever actually overturned.  It takes absolute, indisputable proof and that almost never happens.  West Virginia, tied 10-10 with 2 minutes and 18 seconds left in the first half, was driving and on the way to taking the lead.  Kennedy McKoy caught a screen pass from Jarret Doege, ran towards the sideline and was targeted in the most vicious, obvious way possible by Grant Wallow, TCU’s best defender and leading tackler.

Multiple replays were shown and ESPN’s replay official Jeff Hansen confirmed what we all saw. Hansen said, “You’ve got to meet two criteria.  You’re always looking when it comes to targeting for an indicator.  Is there forceable contact, is the playing launching, thrusting, lowering their head or leading with the helmet?  I would say he’s leading and there’s an attack with the crown of the helmet.  It looks like you get both things satisfied there and we’re going to look at Garret Wallow sitting the rest of the game out.”

Garret Wallow is TCU’s best player.  He’s their emotional leader and he’s 7th in the FBS in tackles with 10.3 per game.  Him being called for targeting – being removed from the game, giving West Virginia 15 yards and a 1st down in TCU territory with the teams tied at 10-10 and the Mountaineers getting the ball back in the 2nd half – would have been devastating for TCU.  The chances of TCU winning the game would have gone done drastically without their best player, losing at half and on defense to start the 2nd half.

There is simply no other explanation for what came next.  The officials looked at the replay and overturned the call.

Rather than the Mountaineers being up 13-10 or 17-10 at the end of the 1st half with the ball going into the 2nd half, the game was tied at 10-10 and TCU still had their best defender.

The Big 12 Conference only cares about making money.  In West Virginia’s previous game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys – a game they eventually lost 20-13 – there were several questionable calls.  Sam James’ apparent touchdown was ruled down at the 1 yard line, Jarret Doege’s ensuing quarterback sneak appeared to be a touchdown, but both were ruled in favor of Oklahoma State.  What good would West Virginia (4-6 at the time) beating the #21 ranked Oklahoma State team do for the Big 12 Conference?

In collegiate sports, where it should be all about fair play and the safety of the student athletes, it’s all about money and that’s so, so disappointing.

When the West Virginia basketball team – potentially undefeated and highly ranked – travels to Lawrence to play the Kansas Jayhawks in the Mountaineers’ Big 12 conference opener, no one expects for the game to be called fairly and that’s such a shame.  Kansas, a perennial national championship contender, makes money for the Big 12 Conference and the Jayhawks losing games is just bad business for the conference.

Neal Brown, who spoke up against the role of the replay booth following the Oklahoma State game, said he was still waiting for a call back from the Big 12 Head of Officials Greg Burks.  My guess is that he won’t ever hear back from Burks because the answer is obvious.  The Big 12 Conference is only concerned about putting the teams with the best chance of making them money in position to win games.