Chances are, the 2021 Music City Bowl won’t have much of an impact on the college football landscape.
Bowls are fun, but the vast majority of them don’t mean much.
Tennessee and Purdue weren’t playing for a conference championship, a berth in the national championship game, or the national title game itself. Some upper class students on each team didn’t even bother playing the game, choosing instead to start focusing on their professional careers, and they shouldn’t be blamed for it. They got this far, they worked hard enough, and they stayed healthy enough to potentially fulfill their dreams and financially change their lives. Go get paid, young men. Go get paid.
We’ve all seen teams do trash can performances in bowl games and turn around and win titles next season. We’ve all seen teams set the world on fire in bowls and turn around and plant their faces the following season. If there is any connection between a team’s bowl performance in Season X and their overall performance in Season Y, I’m not smart enough to find it.
Hopefully, the 2021 Music City Bowl won’t have much of a long-term impact on Tennessee’s football schedule – its players, coaches, administrators, and everyone in between. Really, really hope that is the case.
Because Tennessee has been broken into.
Second year return flights Jaylen wright kept his feet agitated and extended the ball into the end zone in an incredible fourth and overtime goal against Purdue at Nissan Stadium. He did it before his knee hit the ground and before the whistle officially blew up the room, and reruns reviews showed it as clearly as the day.
It should have been a touchdown. It was decided otherwise.
Officials claimed they had blown up the game and stopped progress. The game would have been revisited, as all the landmark plays are seen again, and the replay showed Wright crossed the goal line before the whistle sounded and before his knee hit the ground. But if officials decide the coin is dead, the coin is dead.
Interestingly, officials never determined that the game was dead at the end of the fourth quarter, when Purdue junior tight end Payne Durham stayed on his feet, refused to get off and scolded 62 yards for a wild touchdown. Tennessee defenders apparently assumed the coin had been declared dead, but it was not, and Durham, to his credit, continued to huff. And he scored. It was a brilliant play for the Boilermakers and a humbling moment for the Thefts.
Durham scored a touchdown, fair and square. But so did Wright, and we didn’t give him the score. Do you agree with that? I’m not.
A wild and wonderful game ended in an ugly stain. Do you agree with that? I’m not.
Flight trainer Josh Heupel and his players made enough mistakes on Thursday to lose several games. They should be held accountable and they will be. But can’t we walk and chew gum at the same time? Can we not have a serious discussion about the responsibility of officials who are not willing or able to make correct calls in these games, as well as the procedures that are not able to correct them? At the very least, can’t we stick microphones in their faces and ask them questions? I don’t agree with that.
The level of acceptance we have with questionable or downright ridiculous officials has never satisfied me. We dissect every aspect of the sport around this time, but seldom have serious discussions about the consequences of men’s and women’s performance with whistles. Judges cannot be judged. Do you agree with that? I’m not.
On a basic human level, I understand the way we try to treat public servants. Yes of course. How could any of us not do this? Public servants have incredibly difficult jobs, and no one is perfect. Their job is thankless and they are not paid as well as most of the people they serve. Coaches at this level, in general, are very well paid. Many players are now also paid legally, thanks to the welcome addition of Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) laws. Officials are not in that income bracket, and some fan craziness makes me seriously fearful for the safety of those who wear stripes. Shelling them from objects is obviously not the answer, but a lack of public accountability is not the answer either. These men and women decide to step into the public arena when they take on these jobs. It is a fact.
Let’s be real about it: calls count. They matter a lot. Coaches are made redundant and players are “treated” every year, and most of these actions are as public as possible. With few exceptions, public servants are not held to anything that resembles this standard. With a few exceptions, the worst part is a press release saying, “Oops, our bad. “
But it’s even deeper than that. Regardless of what you think of gambling in sports, the point is that it has become legal in more and more states across the country, and more and more people are investing a lot of money in these games. I don’t, but a lot of people do, and I don’t see anything wrong with it. But things like that should shed even more light on a simple question: is it legitimate? Is everything imaginable being done to make these games as fair as possible?
We accept a certain level of human error, and we should. You can call the hold on each snap if you want. You can call up a passing interference pretty much every throw if you want. It’s judgment calls, and we can’t stop and look at every little thing to determine things like that. It would make every game intolerable. Would it have been nice if Purdue had been properly judged for a blatant defensive stance that slowed the Tennessee star’s gap? Cedric Tillman on a potential touchdown at the end of the fourth quarter? Yes that would have been nice, especially considering the number of flags (mostly but not always correctly) thrown at the Tennessee high school during this game. But we can’t stop the game every time to sort things out. It would be ridiculous.
But what are we supposed to do when the replay shows a ball crosses the goal line before a whistle blows and before a knee hits the ground, and it’s not called a touchdown? ? What are we supposed to do when things like this exact scenario happen in fourth and overtime goal? What are we supposed to do when officials say they criticize a play and then supposedly review a play and say there is nothing they could do about it? What are we supposed to do when our eyes show us something is blue and we are told it is red?
Is there really nothing we can do about it? If there is nothing we can do about it, what are we doing here?
Let’s not forget a potentially important mitigating factor here: if player safety is the reason an official has decided to rule prematurely – no whistle, beware, but rule – playing dead, it is at least a somewhat forgivable error. But well-meaning mistakes are mistakes, and a fourth and a goal with the game on the line is no time to err on the side of shutting down a playbook prematurely.
There is no doubt that I discuss this stuff more than most people in the media. Guess we all have our stuff, and it’s one of my stuff. Many of my peers, including some of my favorite and most respected people in this field, don’t understand why I care so much. But I just did. I care about it. It may be unnecessary. Maybe I’m looking at the windmills. But it matters to me, and I think it should be important for anyone who enjoys sports. I do not understand why we are accepting it. I would like to understand that. But I don’t.
Few things are worse than reviews that don’t have potential solutions in mind, so I have a few suggestions. Give public servants full-time jobs. Better train them. Pay them better. Then hold them accountable for their performance. Do something. Do anything. Continuing to ignore this problem is no use and no benefit.
Football doesn’t have to be well executed to be fun, and Thursday’s game was endlessly fun. It deserved a wild ending, and by God it had one. But we’ve all seen that overtime call, and it looked black and white from that perspective. Does Senior tight end flights Princeton Fan give Wright an illegal push? You could say he did, but it’s not revisable. A ball crossing the goal line before a ball carrier is down or a whistle is blown must absolutely be reviewable.
Tennessee’s coaches and players could have done a lot of things differently, and any of them could have turned this game into a win. We must not dismiss this. It matters. We’ll be spending a lot of time on this site dissecting every inch and every decision in this game, because aside from recruiting and other staff news, it’s all Tennessee football that we’ll have to discuss until the start of the game. spring camp. Heupel, his staff and his players will be disappointed with several decisions they have made, and they should feel it.
But here’s the difference: Heupel and Co. will be held accountable for its decisions. I’m pretty sure officials won’t, at least in the public sense. And it wouldn’t be the first time this has happened. Far from there.
We can either accept it or refuse to accept it. What you do is up to you, but I can’t take it. I’ve been in this business long enough to know how many people are impacted by the results of these games.
College sport is a results-driven business. For some people. Not so much for others.
Chances are, the result of Thursday’s non-championship bowl game will not be relevant to anyone involved. But what if it becomes relevant? What if the same thing happens in another road game that actually determines a conference or national champion? Then what ?