Every football fan has his own memories of the 1959 college-football season, ranging from the upbeat of a quarterback's 40-yard touchdown pass to the downbeat of the same quarterback's game-losing fumble in the end zone. But we are indebted to a reader who suggests another kind of memory album for the year, a catalog of gaffes by the officials. The men in the striped shirts have had a pretty streaky record, our friend implies, asking us pointblank: What kind of year was it for referees?
Here are a few key dates for a winter of reflection:
October 17: Rice plays SMU at Houston. Southern Methodist scores a winning touchdown on a pass to break a 13-13 tie. Referee Charles Davis calls the play back, claiming the passer was over the line of scrimmage, the five-yard line. Next day he sees game films (above) showing passer wasn't over the line of scrimmage. "I just missed the call. I was wrong," the referee manfully said.
October 31: Yale plays Dartmouth at New Haven. Yale loses 12-8, and Yale Coach Jordan Olivar, upset at calls against his team, demands rules be changed to allow football coaches to take the field and argue referee's decisions, √† la baseball.
December 14, 1959
October 31: Southern California plays California at Berkeley. A Southern Cal guard, Mike McKeever, crushes the face of California's Steve Bates, who is flat on his back and out of bounds. No penalty is called.
November 7: Indiana plays Ohio State at Columbus. Score is tied 0-0 when the Indiana fullback seems to carry the ball into the end zone. He gets pushed out again, and no touchdown signal comes from referee. Final score 0-0. Indiana displays picture (above) to show their back in the end zone, appeals to Big Ten to change score of game. Pictures impress all, but the final whistle has blown. Final final score: 0-0.
November 7: Monmouth plays Cornell (of Iowa) at Monmouth, Ill. Cornell back is running for touchdown on punt return. A Monmouth player comes off sidelines to tackle him. Not even Cornell runner's own coach believes he was tackled by a man from the bench until the game films (above) are seen next week. Tackier did come from bench. Referees never knew it either.
It hardly seemed right to include that gaffe of the whole crew of officials assigned to the Upper Iowa-Dubuque game on October 17. They never showed up on Saturday afternoon at all. Thought it was a night game. Officials pro-tem were found in the crowd, and everything went well enough.
This was just the type of list he had in mind, our reader appreciatively remarked when we told him about it. Wouldn't we like to extend it to football broadcasters? He claims he heard an announcer say, "There was an illegitimate man downfield." Maybe he did. But that's a start on another memory book.