What you're about to read probably isn't going to sit well with you. It's not what you want to hear, but it needs to be said.
Get over it.
That's right. Move on. Put it behind you. Stop feeding this insatiable need within that consumes you and has unfortunately, come to define the Iowa State fan base in 2013. Texas won, Iowa State lost and that's that. I'm just as upset about it as you are, but the outcome can't and won't be changed.
Here's what we know; Jeremiah George did strip the ball from Texas' Jonathan Gray at the goal line and had the officials allowed the play to continue, it would have stood. Unfortunately, the officials saw it differently and the ruling on the field that was called was allowed to stand. Note that it wasn't confirmed, but that the call stood. It was a judgment call as to whether Gray's progress had been stopped and while another officiating crew may have called it differently, the officials on the field last night did not. The call that was made wasn't necessarily wrong. It's a call that is made plenty of times in every football game you've ever seen and sometimes it's a good call and sometimes it isn't. That's football.
And while we're on the officials, let's get a few other things out of the way as well. Was Iowa State's Cory Morrisey held by a Texas offensive lineman on the last play of the first half? In my mind, absolutely. In fact, there were more than a few times where an Iowa State defender appeared to be held and no flag was thrown. Just as controversial were the numerous pass interference calls that went against the Cyclones. Could the officiating crew have kept the flag in their pocket on a few of those? You bet. Were some of those throws by Case McCoy completely uncatchable, regardless of whether or not the Texas receiver was interfered with? No doubt about it. Again though, that's football. The calls aren't always going to go your way and that was the most certainly the case on Thursday night.
Now to what we don't want to admit; we did it to ourselves...
- Have you ever seen a more effortless Hail Mary catch? Texas' John Harris didn't even have to make much of an adjustment. He didn't really jump that high and he didn't have to fight anyone in the air for the ball. Where were the Iowa State defenders to knock the ball down? Why wasn't a taller receiver like Quenton Bundrage brought in to go up and fight for that ball?
- Mike Davis, although apparently a prick, is a damn good football player. He has game-breaking speed, big-play ability and is a nightmare to cover. He routinely got behind the Iowa State secondary all night and if Case McCoy had any type of touch on his deep ball, Iowa State could have been burned big multiple times. Because of Davis' ability and the speed and talent of the rest of the Longhorn receiving core, Iowa State's secondary had to get physical in the passing game and while that strategy worked to varying degrees, it did lead to a number of indisputable penalties committed by Cyclone defenders.
- If Iowa State punches one in the end zone instead of kicking a field goal, the game is effectively over. Taking possession with just over six minutes left, the Iowa State offense led a beautiful drive, featured by an inspired run game that put the Cyclones inside the Texas 10-yard line with a chance to put Iowa State up 34-24, giving the ball back to Texas with just more than three minutes left. Unfortunately, Iowa State didn't convert on third and short and Cole Netten trotted out onto the field and put Iowa State up by six, but Texas still had life.
The narrative has already developed and the outcry among Cyclone fans was immediate and boisterous. "We were screwed!" Sure, there's some validity to that, but Iowa State had every opportunity to seize control of this game and didn't. Because of that, Texas found a way to win and the judgement of the officials became a determining factor.
This brings me to the crux of this piece; with a full three months yet to go, it's apparent that 2013 will be remembered as the year of the screwjob as far as Cyclone athletics go, but what about a larger, darker narrative that is developing because of these screwjobs. I'm talking of course about the reaction our fan base has had to these perceived slights and the reputation that we're developing.
To some degree, it has to be ingrained in the ISU fan's DNA to cry foul at the first sign of trouble. We've been on the business end of a good jobbing a few too many times and have seen how the sports world works. But is our anger really just misdirected? Blaming officials is a convenient way to explain a loss, and trust me, our peers are taking notice just how often we go to the "Officials" card. Nobody wants to admit that our coaches or players might not have been up to snuff in a few of these screwjobs.
Now, I'm not arguing that we don't have legitimate gripes, because we most certainly do. Jeff Withey fouled out of that game last February and a charge should have been called on Elijah Johnson when he plowed into Georges Niang. Similarly, we all know that Aaron Craft slid under Will Clyburn and Craft's foot appeared to be inside or on the arc under the basket. And then there's last night and what appeared to be a fumble recovery by Jeremiah George.
We've had shit luck in 2013 and unfortunately, have become a national sympathetic figure because of that shit luck. The fact that the shit luck has come when Iowa State was lined up across from Kansas, Ohio State and Texas might be more than coincidence to some, but it doesn't erase the fact that Iowa State had their chances in each of those games to put the game away and didn't.
I will never get over how poor the officials were in that tilt against Kansas in February, but I also can't forget that Iowa State was up by five with under a minute to play and allowed Kansas to just stick around. I also can't forget the fact that while Iowa State was up by two, even after what should have been a charge, we still would have had to knock down two free throws to truly put that game away. It's the same thing against Ohio State. If Craft was called for a charge, Iowa State would have taken the lead and swung momentum going into that final minute, but there was still plenty of time on the clock and we all forget on the possession just prior to Craft burying that buzzer beater, we failed to corral a rebound and gave Ohio State the ball back.
Yes, Iowa State has had a run of terrible luck in 2013, but the point I'm trying to make is that some of the fault for that luck falls on the shoulders of Cyclone coaches and players. I hate to admit that just as much as you do, but I only point it out because the attitude of the Cyclone fan base has to change. It's easy to cry foul and throw around phrases like "screw job". It's not so easy to admit that our favorite team lost, regardless of circumstances.