In the aftermath of Arizona’s stunning 31-24 victory over Oregon in Autzen Stadium — a place visiting teams rarely win — much of the talk focused on an absurd unsportsmanlike conduct penalty levied against the Ducks’ Tony Washington, whose post-sack celebration after dropping Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon was a little too “unsportsmanlike” for one referee’s liking. The 15-yard penalty gave Arizona a new set of downs inside the 10-yard line, and it took the Wildcats three tries to punch it in for what turned out to be the winning touchdown.
So, did Oregon get screwed? I guess. But for anyone who’s watch five minutes of Pac-12 football over the years, the unsportsmanlike call against Tony Washington is standard operating procedure for Pac-12 referees. In fact, let’s revisit something that happened just two weeks ago up in Pullman, where Washington State — which had no business being in a close game against Oregon — was driving to potentially tie the game late. WSU quarterback Connor Halliday attempted a pass to receiver Isiah Meyers on 3rd-and-13 that would have either given the Cougars a first down at the Oregon 25-yard line or a manageable 4th-and-short. Except the pass never got there, because THIS happened (apologies for the music):
(Note: this alternate angle shows cornerback Dior Mathis literally tackling Meyers before the ball arrives.)
That’s pass interference, right? Wrong. Not in the Pac-12. After the horrific no-call, Halliday proceeded to get sacked on 4th down, and that was that. Oregon wins. Now, much like the Oregon-Arizona game (Arizona would have kicked a field goal and Oregon would still have had to drive and score), there were no guarantees for WSU in that situation. If they had scored a touchdown, a made extra point would have only tied the game. But it at least would have forced Oregon to try for a late score with little time on the clock, or sent the game into overtime. Instead, the refs made one of those demoralizing, game-changing calls (or no-call, in this case) that just leaves everyone scratching their heads and bitching on Twitter.
In other words, don’t cry for Oregon. Especially considering the fact they didn’t really play that well Thursday night against a team that upset them last year — not to mention the close call in Pullman was probably still fresh on their minds. As for the penalty, the only explanation we can come up with is that it was simply their “turn” to get boned by the most incompetent officials in all of college sports.