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Oklahoma State v. Central Michigan Final?

Oklahoma State v. Central Michigan Final?

Brandon Weaver

What an incredible finish! But is it finished? It depends on which side you're on.

The interesting questions would be, "What if Oklahoma State beat Central Michigan in the same way? Would the fan base feel differently? Would OSU fans expect their coaches and administration to give Central Michigan the win and take the loss?"

Needless to say, I'm not a Central Michigan fan. I'm not an OSU fan either. I'm actually an OU fan. I know what you're thinking, but I like to think I'm fairly neutral to Oklahoma State unless they're playing Oklahoma. I want you to think bigger. What should be done in this case if it was team X against team Y? What should be done if rankings or upsets or, more importantly, money wasn't involved?

I am a coach more than I am an OU fan or "OSU hater." What would I do if I was in this situation? What would I want done? If I was in Central Michigan's position, I would give the win to Oklahoma State and I would have our team take the loss. Yes, I realize that it was incredible play. Heck, it was an incredible series of plays, decisions, and circumstances as shared by @pistolsguy:

However, by the rule it never should have happened. When will we start making teaching/learning life lessons more important than making money and winning championships?

Let's look at the disadvantages of the decisions:

  • One less win and one more loss may affect their bowl bid. On the other hand, if they beat a solid Big 12 team who will most likely get into a bowl this year, I think the chances are good for CMU to make a bowl as well. Perhaps they won't get into a better bowl with one more loss. That is a valid point.
  • It negates an unbelievable finish. Yes, but it also negates the fact that in regulation by rule OSU won. One play after the game is officially over shouldn't negate that. 
  • It's not CMU's fault. Why should they take a loss when they didn't make the mistake? They should take the loss because officials made the mistake, but they are in no position to rectify the situation. Wouldn't it help the official's conscience to know that at least in the end the correct decision was made? I would hate to have that decision hanging over my head for the rest of my career. It may anyway, but at least the outcome would be as it should have been. 
  • So should they take a loss on any penalty at the end of a game that was found later to be in error? No, there are judgement calls such as holding or pass interference. We would argue all day about those. However, this was a black and white decision that was handled in error. 

Let's look at the advantages:

  • We as coaches and higher institutions say we want people of integrity. We say we want people who are truthful and are willing to do the difficult right over the easy wrong. This could be used as the ultimate life lesson. If I was the coach the speech would start out something like this: "Men, I'm so proud of the resolve and belief in each other you all showed at the end of the game. However, we are men of integrity, and by the rule we should not have had the extra play. I know this stings. There's a part of me that wants nothing more than to reward you all with the victory because of the trust and effort you've given to one another. However, one day you will have to teach your sons and daughters what it's like to live with integrity. I don't want you to have this moment in the back of your mind. I don't want you to doubt that you are the example of that integrity. As a matter of fact I want you to be able to look them in the eye and tell them this story so that they know it's more important to do the difficult right than the easy wrong..."
  • If we as coaches are about teaching those life lessons, why wouldn't it be an easy decision? I know by rule the game cannot be overturned, but I would do everything in my power to do so. Why would we not pay attention to one rule just to cling to another?  As Coach K once said, "Rules are for people who don't want to make decisions." 
  • The most important reason to make this decision is because it's the right thing to do. However, there are others:
    • Think about how it would strengthen the current team. You would have so much to play for this year. 
    • Think about how it impacts the landscape of "big money" sports. 
    • Think about how it could positively impact recruiting. How awesome would it be to go into a recruit's home and tell him and his parents, "Integrity isn't just something on our wall. It's something we live every day. It's something we hold each other accountable to." 
    • Think about how it could impact the player's lives for years to come. 
    • It will not cost them a championship, but if it did it would be even more powerful. 

If I was in Oklahoma State's position, I would hopefully react the same way Mike Gundy has.  He has taken blame, and placed very little if any on the officials. He is getting the team focused for the upcoming opponent. He is controlling what he can control; learning from his mistakes and refocusing the team for the next game. We tell our players to not let the last mistake affect the next play. Coach Gundy is living that. 

I believe sports give us an awesome laboratory to teach life lessons to our players. I've had my fair share of failures in this regard. We are all tempted to take the easy route or hide behind rules. I'm not saying Central Michigan's coaches or administration are bad people or liars or frauds. A team doesn't make that play at the end without having deep trust for each other. I am saying in this one instance they should announce that because the last play never should have happened their record will and should reflect that game as a loss. Whether or not the coaches and AP poll reflect that may not be up to them, but they would have made the decision for themselves. What an incredible finish that would be. 

You can find more from Coach Weaver here.

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