It was but one ref’s call of many in the slate of bowl games on New Year’s Day. A bad call, yet one that, whichever way it went, would not really affect the outcome of the, let’s see which game was it, the Outback Bowl.
In the normal course of events, if you aren’t an alum of Iowa, or your nephew isn’t in the LSU band, you’d say of the call, “Geez, they really blew that one,” then click channels to see what was happening in the other game(s).
Ah, but if you’re in Joey The Vig’s Bowl Pool; and, if you, by some dumb luck, have correctly prognosticated nine games in a row to vault to the top of the standings; and, if you’ve taken the Bayou Bengals and are giving 7 1/2 points, the call has you shrieking, spinning about the room in a blather, foaming at the mouth, ready to call the Marquis of Queensbury for an official inquiry.
Up 14-7 with a few ticks over 5:00 on the clock, LSU took possession at its own 8 yard line, intent, I’m so sure, to just run out the clock and savor a hard fought one TD W. I was resigned to mark it down as an L on my card, and move on.
Then the Tigers’ Jeremy Hill went nuts. After a two yard gain on 1st down, he ripped off a run for 28. Then, he rambled for 20 more. Resting for the next two downs, LSU moved it five more yards, for a third and 5. Hoping for a stop and a chance to win, the Hawkeyes called timeout.
On the next play, Hill broke some tackles and jetted 37 yards for the score. More important, after the conversion, the lead was 21-7, and I’m marching around my condo, arms raised in the traditional TD gesture.
Then, with just two minutes to play, Iowa’s Jeremy Cotton zipped for 96 yards on the kickoff return. First and 10 at the LSU 4 yard line.
I glumly was again slumped into my chair, not a whit bemused by the vagaries of the battle. Iowa really had little chance of scoring, then scoring again, then converting a two point conversion to win. But, if they scored, I’d be losing my bet.
On first down, while being sacked, Hawkeye QB C.J. Beathard fumbled, the Bengals recovered, and I’m yet again mirthfully dancing about, a smile a football field wide on my face.
Then, in the worst decision since Chamberlain appeased Hitler, the zebra in the replay booth rules it an incomplete pass, reversing the absolutely correct, just and God Bless American patriotic decision on the field. Which allowed Iowa to score on the next play.
And cover the spread.
All of which shifting of emotion had me in a miasma of despair, confirming yet again why I rarely ever wager on athletic contests. The moments of hollow stomach far outnumber those of joy.1
I immediately called The Vig, through digital ship to shore hookup, on his yacht somewhere equatorial in the Indian Ocean.
My protests about the unfairness of that overturn were to no avail. The Vig, to be honest, hung up on me.
* * * * *
The good news is that I had South Carolina, Michigan State and Central Florida and am still perched, precariously for sure, atop the Bowl Pool standings. With any number of other players at my heels, including guys named Cookieman, KR, my local arch nemesis David. Plus, imagine my surprise, Joey The Vig himself.
Yes, The Vig runs the pool, takes in the rake, and enters the pool himself. His emissaries make sure the rest of us don’t protest. It’s a healthy decision on our part.
Tonight I’ve got Boomer Sooner +15 1/2.
Come on, sing along:
— Seedy K