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Apology Not Accepted: The Big Ten Conference Needs To Do Better

With a process already in place that allows for officials to get the calls right, how is it that so many are still getting it wrong?

We're 10 days removed from the epic matchup between Michigan and Michigan State in East Lansing, but the discussion over the game - particularly one play - is raging on.

Now before we go any further, I want to make something absolutely crystal clear: the officials did not cost the Michigan Wolverines a win in East Lansing. The harsh reality is that missed calls are just as costly as missed opportunities, the kind of missed opportunities that result in three points vs. seven points. 

Michigan's persistent red zone issues, along with a defense that allowed Kenneth Walker to run for a whopping grand total of five touchdowns, were primarily responsible for Michigan's loss on Saturday.

That being said, there's absolutely no denying that a missed call certainly played a part in the outcome. The critical mistake by the officials in East Lansing took points away from the Wolverines and they ended up losing a close, back-and-forth game by a score of 37-33. There's also no denying that the Big Ten conference has a process in place to review plays and to make the right calls - as evidenced by its reported apology to Jim Harbaugh after the fact. 

"As we all expected, and all saw, mistakes were made," Harbaugh said at his Monday press conference. "That was the response [from the Big Ten conference]. Yeah, they made a mistake."

You can review the play in question below:

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The officiating crew clearly spent a considerable amount of time reviewing the play and, I assume, speaking with others who were reviewing the play from the press box as well. After initially ruling it a fumble and recovery by Aidan Hutchinson in the end zone, the officiating crew somehow came to the conclusion that there was indisputable evidence to reverse the call on the field. 

Shin down, no fumble, no touchdown. 

Here are the questions that the Big Ten needs to answer: 

  • If the Big Ten conference has a process in place that allows folks to review plays and make the right calls after the fact, why wasn't that very same process available two Saturdays ago in East Lansing? 
  • Is the process that the Big Ten used after the fact different from the process that is used during the game? If so, why?
  • Who is accountable for the mistakes that were made by the officiating crew in East Lansing?
  • What measures are being taken by the Big Ten conference to ensure this doesn't happen moving forward?