The officials at the Longhorn game pic.twitter.com/Fo7kMOpPML— #ASOC♛ (@_TristenRamirez) September 26, 2015
After the Texas Longhorns suffered a narrow defeat at the hands of the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Saturday, the Longhorn Internet erupted with rage.
Fans everywhere found themselves reaching for their bullshit button.
That rage was given further focus when our friend Scipio at Barking Carnival wrote a fairly harsh critique of the way the game was officiated.
Not surprisingly this article launched a tremendous amount of discussion. The article was primarily focused on describing some of the more dubious calls that went against Charlie Strong's men and arguing that the most likely explanation of these calls was an intentional effort by the officiating crew. The article specifically avoided inferring why this was done, although it did put forward a list of potential motives. Unsurprisingly, this passage (which was tangential to the basic thesis) drew a substantial amount of attention:
The game outcome was determined by the officiating crew. Any other viewpoint is ignorant of objective and empirical reality. Right now, I'm simply interested in determining what kind of human garbage we're dealing with: pro Cowboy or anti-Texas game riggers, corrupt gamblers, straight up racists who want to undercut a predominantly black coaching staff at the state Flagship or simply petty small men who decided early on they were going to "get" Texas for some unknown slight.
Which of those motives you chose to run with (if any) perhaps says something about how you see the world. I don't know what happened on Saturday, but if I were to need to take a pick off of Paul's menu of choices, I would probably go with the "petty small men" option. Because I know this sort of stuff happens happens between teams and officials in the world of sports.
Some of the most obvious examples come from professional basketball; NBA fans are likely the least naive about the effects of beefs between specific teams and officials. Some of these have become rather famous, such when Joey Crawford allegedly challenged Tim Duncan to a fight, and the longstanding feud between Doc Rivers and Bill Kennedy.
But one can instead turn on a dime and select a different option, venturing off into the land of broad conspiracy. There has been plenty of conspiracy to be found on various Longhorn boards.
Let's look at one of the more popular potential ones.
@BarkingCarnival Possible big 12 rigged it to improve chances of getting a team to the playoffs?— Eric Carter (@EricCarter122) September 27, 2015
Conspiracy theories are easy to concoct, but they don't usually strike me as plausible. In this case, I am not ready to venture beyond theorizing simple conspiracy between a couple officials, and even that may be too far.
Any motivation by the Big 12 to start manipulating games seems relatively small, particularly in contrast to the outrageousness of the charge. Rigging this game, this early in the season, between these two teams has a very low probability of altering the league championship outcome. It is hard to imagine that the schemers in the league office could keep such heavy-handed tactics up throughout the fall. At this point in the year, the stakes aren't remotely high enough to make it worth manipulating game outcomes.
Anyway, if some powerful body was trying to manipulate the outcome of the game to produce an Oklahoma State win, it sure cut things close on Saturday.
The second popular theory centers around gambling. We know from time to time, gamblers do conspire to fix or alter the outcomes of sporting events. But I guess I want to see a bit more evidence before I hop aboard that particular train.
Some people just like to believe that powerful forces are behind bad things that happen, when frequently a simpler explanation involves some mix of chance and spite.
At least some of this conspiracy talk doesn't seem intended to be taken seriously.
Breaking: Big 12 refs caught playing FanDuel— Mitchell Rummel (@mitchrumm) September 27, 2015
And there was probably as much talk about the silly Texas fans with their silly stories as there were actual silly stories.
We got Texas fans who think the refs are corrupt and biased against THEM. IN THE BIG 12. THE CONFERENCE THEY OWN. I need more alcohol.— JOEY FRESHWATER (@edsbs) September 27, 2015
We're totally corrupt against Texas, a school without which the conference wouldn't exist and we wouldn't have jobs. Makes perfect sense.— Big 12 Refs (@Big12Refs) September 27, 2015
From the start of the game, the youthful Texas defense struggled against the rather efficient Cowboy passing game.
Does the Longhorn defense understand they're supposed to stop the other team's offense? Doesn't look like they got that memo...— Thackness (@Thackness) September 26, 2015
If you want to come sit in the stands, the Longhorns would appreciate it. If you want to cover an OSU receiver, they'd appreciate it more.— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) September 26, 2015
But after a few big plays on the defensive end -- really these plays were OSU mistakes that the Longhorns pounced on as much as anything -- some fan energy around the Texas defense started to coalesce.
@Longhorn_FB defense looks 100X better this week— DubNation (@dub0983) September 26, 2015
That Texas longhorn defense is making the most out Oklahoma State's offensive miscues. Fun game to watch so far— Phillip Whitfield (@allinChrist413) September 26, 2015
Of course, no player on the Texas defense received more fan attention this week than Hassan Ridgeway, who had a big game.
Hassan Ridgeway for Heisman— Chris O'Connell (@theechrisoc) September 26, 2015
Looks like Hassan Ridgeway is really good if you don't block him.— DD (@BarkingCarnival) September 26, 2015
Ridgeway absolutely was the beneficiary of some good fortune on Saturday afternoon -- his fumble recovery occurred when Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph simply dropped the ball, and he was almost forgotten by the offensive line on his late game sack -- but it was good to see one of Texas' most talented defenders come alive.
After the Notre Dame mess, it is just good to see that this team is bouncing back, and competing against good teams.
The Final Word
This season is all about getting experience anyways Charlie strong is definitely the right guy and we're about to be a problem next year— Jonathan Holmes (@J_Holmes10) September 26, 2015