For the seventh time in nine games this season, IU led at the half. For the second consecutive week, IU blew a huge early lead and was outplayed badly in the second half. Certainly, officiating will dominate the postgame discussions, and it was very bad. There has long been a perception that Big Ten officials protect the cash cows, namely Michigan, Ohio State, and whichever other team might be the standard bearer in a given season. I have no idea if that is true, although I have less than zero confidence in the back-slappers at the Big Ten office to properly supervise or evaluate officials.
Certainly, football is a difficult game to officiate. There are 22 players on the field and it's difficult to catch everything. I have some patience for missed calls in the heat of the moment. I have little patience for the nacho-eaters in the pressbox who are too damn stupid to understand what "indisputable video evidence" means. Based on live action and the replay, I thoughtscored a touchdown on that disputed play. I can't imagine how the "video evidence" led to an indisputable conclusion that he either did or did not. I'm biased. I'm an IU fan. I could swear that I saw Belcher's foot kick up the black rubber particles in the end zone as he possessed the ball. Still, had the call on the field been "incomplete pass," I would have to concede that my more-likely-than-not belief was not enough to reverse what was a very close call. The same is true of the way it played out. But, again, the Big Ten office makes NASCAR look ethics-minded. Remember 2005, IU fans? When we were told there was no problem with Northern Iowa athletic director Rick Hartzell officiating a late-season game at Wisconsin when both IU and UNI were on the NCAA bubble? The notion of "appearance of impropriety" hadn't penetrated the thick skulls in Rosemont as of 2005, and I doubt it has since. Still, the entire Internet is this afternoon accusing Big Ten officials of not just being bad at their jobs, but being corrupt. Will Delany take this perception seriously? Based on history, no way. Fred Glass, you've been very supportive of your coach this week. Your next task is to insist, first privately but publicly if necessary, that the Big Ten office publicly explain the decision of the replay officials on the Damarlo Belcher touchdown reversal.
All that said, Iowa deserved to win, and the amount of ink spilled in the paragraph above shouldn't be seen as in any way underplaying the reality that Iowa is the better team and was the better team today, on the whole. The Hawkeyes played poorly and constantly turned the ball over, but produced big plays when they needed them. I just don't have the energy to slog through the stats right now. More tomorrow.