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Toledo's hope of changing result is a lost cause

CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

The Rockets lost to Syracuse in overtime on Saturday after the Orange was awarded a point-after conversion in regulation that actually missed.

September 25, 2011|Chris Dufresne
  • Toledo Coach Tim Beckman watches from the sideline during Saturday's game against Syracuse in New York.
Toledo Coach Tim Beckman watches from the sideline during Saturday's… (Steve Jacobs / Associated…)

Losing stinks. It smells like a gym bag, looks like Mike Stoops' contorted face during a home wipeout to Oregon and tastes like salad dressing on ice cream.

And when an instant-replay crew steps in and robs you, the way one did in the Carrier Dome miscarriage case: Board of Toledo v. Syracuse and the Big East?

Well, that's cause for Toledo Coach Tim Beckman to stay up until 2 a.m. to pen an open letter to society.

It wasn't enough that the Big East admitted it butchered a call that helped Syracuse win in overtime.

People make mistakes, Beckman acknowledged Sunday while reading from a news-conference podium, "But when you add technology to a call, and it is not used properly, it is injustice."

Toledo is asking the Big East to overturn the verdict and render unto Caesar all that has belonged to Toledo since last year's Little Caesars Bowl.

Should the final score be invalidated?

No, not in this case, but we feel Beckman's pain.

Defeat is rarely placated — although there are exceptions. South Dakota was paid handsomely for a 59-10 defeat Saturday at Wisconsin.

"As long as the check clears," Coyotes Coach Ed Meierkort half-joked afterward, "it's a win."

Mostly, losing is Arizona's coach writhing and reeling like Joe Cocker for 60 minutes on a sideline.

Stoops lost it several times during a 56-31 loss to Oregon in Tucson.

"It's humiliating in some ways," he said of being the "3" in a 35-3 halftime score.

You think he was going to stand still while Ducks tailback LaMichael James rushed for a school-record 288 yards?

Arizona has lost eight of its last nine games since starting 7-1 last year. Nobody cares that the defeats came against Stanford (twice), Oregon (twice), Oklahoma State (twice), Arizona State and USC.

After an opening win this year against Northern Arizona, Stoops' team has been chopped by three straight top-10 opponents: Oklahoma State, Stanford, Oregon. Stoops saw, in order, Heisman Trophy candidates at receiver (Justin Blackmon), quarterback (Andrew Luck) and tailback (James.).

"I ought to be able to vote," Stoops lamented.

Losing never lets up. Next week, Arizona plays at USC, coming off a loss at Arizona State.

"I guess they'll be angry too," Stoops said of the Trojans.

Tulsa has also drawn short-straw losses against top-10 Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Boise State.

"This is a good measuring stick," Tulsa Coach Bill Blankenship said Saturday after keeping Boise State undefeated.

… For what?

Kentucky lost for the 25th straight time to Florida — this time by 48-10.

"For five minutes in the game we looked like a pretty good football team," Kentucky Coach Joker Phillips did not joke.

Poor Colorado, a 37-17 loser at Ohio State, has dropped 19 straight on the road.

"It hurts to lose," Colorado quarterback Tyler Hansen said. "But we're going to keep fighting. We have a big game against Washington State next week."

That's the spirit. There's nothing better than taking out your misery on a program worse than yours.

Nothing, though, could top Toledo's torment.

The final score in Toledo will never be Syracuse, 33-30, in overtime.

Syracuse took the lead, 30-27, with 2:07 left when kicker Ross Krautman's point-after attempt was ruled good and upheld after review by the Big East's replay crew.

A Toledo field goal tied the score in regulation, but Syracuse won in extra time.

Ever since it's been Rockets red glare.

The Big East later issued a statement confirming Krautman's PAT was wide and should not have counted.

"We are confident that our officiating staff will learn from this situation in order to prevent a reoccurrence," the Big East stated.

Toledo takes this to mean the final score should be amended to 30-29.

"In the last five years, teams have been stripped of wins, championships and national titles due to poor decisions," Beckman said.

The problem here is the botched call did not end the game.

You can't predict how the last two minutes would have unfolded had the correct call been made.

Even Beckman admitted trailing by two instead of three would have changed his strategy on the final drive. Down by three, he was still playing for the win in regulation. Down by two, a field goal in regulation wins it.

Syracuse might have defended differently. You can't predict different plays would have led to the game-winning field goal.

Toledo was robbed — but changing the outcome would set a dangerous precedent. The Big East should reprimand and suspend, but not retract.

This isn't the first, or last, time an egregious error will undermine a sport fraught with human frailty.

And this is probably not a BCS conspiracy against a tiny team from the Mid-American Conference.

In 2006, Oklahoma was hijacked at Oregon when Pac-10 officials botched the onside kick ending with a horrific call that replay also condoned.

Oklahoma President David Boren, a former United States senator, embarrassed himself then by demanding the game be stricken from the record books.

The Pac-10 did pay for that mistake.

Gordon Riese, the replay chief, received death threats and resigned in disgrace. In fact, the gaffe ultimately led to the Pac-10's revamping its entire officiating department.

What more was required … a public flogging?

The score of Oklahoma-Oregon was not changed. Both programs survived. The Sooners and Ducks are in this week's top 10.

Toledo has every right to be irate.

"I firmly believe this is not right," Beckman said.

That's different, though, from tampering with a final box score.

Unless Big East fraud can be proved, this was just another unfortunate outcome in an imperfect sport.

Toledo needs to move on.

The toughest part of a loss, though, is always letting it go.

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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