Strange things happen in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Saturday was no different as Abarn was handed 14 unearned points by the inept SEC officiating crew charged with the task of calling the game.
Leading 17-14, Fumblin’ Fannin did what he does best, dropping the ball at the Razorback one yard line. The fumble settled at the five, where it was covered by Arkansas. Replay shows the side judge dropping the beanbag and signaling Arkansas ball.
But after review, from three different angles…including the blimp…you could clearly see the ball hit straight down at the one yard line and careen backwards, a clear result of the defender swiping the ball out of Fumblin’ Fannin’s arm, it was ruled a touchdown, expanding Abarn’s brittle lead from three to ten.
What made the scenario…curious…was that the “ruling” on the field was touchdown, though a widened, expanded shot by CBS showed no official signaling such. What you did see was an official throwing his beanbag, signaling fumble. Hmmm….
But it didn’t stop there.
Later in the game, Abarn again nursing a one-point lead, a Razorback runner fumbles. Or did he? Replay clearly shows the knee on the turf before the ball came out. The no-fumble play was so obvious, only one player reacted to the ball; the AU player who picked it up to showboat in front of the home crowd…an Abarn tradition.
Gary Danielson, who I was once critical of but have now grown to respect, circled the knee on the ground in red for those watching at home, showing the ball still in the runner’s hand.
Only this time, the officiating crew apparently wanted to make up for not calling Fannin’s dropsy by ruling this one a fumble, letting the touchdown stand.
What makes all this curious is early in the broadcast, Verne and Gary both commented on how the replay official for the game was “anonymous”. The distinction over the nameless replay official was mentioned as a quasi joke, but ultimately the last laugh would be on the Razorbacks as this unnamed person changed the course of the game for the struggling vistors.
Cosmetic points were added later when an inexperienced back-up quarterback did what inexperienced backup quarterbacks do, but the game was lost when the Razorback’s ship sailed through college football’s version of the Bermuda Triangle.
Don’t get me wrong. Abarn has a good team, and Cam Newton, if I had a Heisman vote, would get mine. He means more to his team than perhaps anyone in the country. He is as big as he is fast, and he is basically all Abarn has.
But in a nip and tuck game, a fourteen point gift, at home, is too great a deficit for most to overcome, even though Alabama did so successfully last season on the same field. But Arkansas isn’t championship caliber, and the piggies simply couldn’t beat the home-standing Tigers and the officiating crew too.
Too bad the game that’ll send the Tigers back to Tampa this bowl season will be played in Tuscaloosa, not the curious Jordan-Hare. That phone you hear ringing is Jay Jacobs to Mal Moore, trying to rekindle the “magic” he mustered last year in buying his 7-5 Tiggers a new year’s day bowl…it’s doubtful Moore can be bought though. The game won’t be played in Lee County this season.
But if you’re looking for must see TV, it’ll be this Saturday at 2:30pm as the Mad Hatter, the luckiest man in the game takes the Bengal Tigers into the most curious stadium in the game.
Hope there isn’t a flyover. They may never find the planes again.