OK, before we get to anything else bout last night’s Colorado-Arizona game, we should note that yes, the only reason that a buzzer-beater at the end of the game even mattered is because Colorado blew a big lead and Arizona came back and Arizona deserves credit and Colorado deserves blame, etc. All true. but the controversy that followed the Wildcats’ eventual overtime win was about that one buzzer-beating attempt by Colorado. Here it is:
As you can see in the above video, replay seemed to indicate that the shot indeed should have counted. However, despite reviewing replay themselves, officials determined (without the aid, apparently, of ESPN’s video) that it should not count. You know the rest: overtime, Arizona won. And following that little replay fiasco, Colorado coach Tad Boyle went so far as to say replay technology shouldn’t be used at all:
“Get rid of instant replay,” Boyle told ESPN.com by phone from Tucson. “In basketball, football, human error is part of our game. If human error is part of the game, let the officials call the game. Players, coaches and officials will make mistakes. It’s part of the game.
“We spend all this money on replays and we still can’t get it right. Get rid of it.”
I poked some fun at Boyle for this this morning, suggesting that if the replay had worked in his favor, he wouldn’t be so against replay technology. Well, Boyle also addressed this issue on some more detail on SportsCenter earlier today, and among other things, said that in fact replay has worked in his team’s favor before, and he’s still against it:
Even so, I’m still not on Boyle’s side on this one. He mentions human error being a part of the game – true. But he loses me when he says, “I just feel like it’s a game that should be decided by the players, the officials…” He’s right that the game should be decided by the players. But the officials’ job is to make sure the players decide the game within the rules of the game. The best official is one you don’t notice – and based on the way refs are famous for being stingier with foul and penalty calls in critical moments of close games, officials themselves tend to agree. An official’s job is to get calls right. Replay technology, despite the failure of last night’s Arizona-Colorado crew, helps them do that job better.
The funny thing is, I’m a great admirer of what Boyle’s done at Colorado. His ability to get a struggling program to back-to-back 20-win seasons, and in the NCAA Tournament within two years (and another berth on the way this season, if they keep being this tough to beat), ranks with the most impressive coaching jobs in the country.
And last night, he and his team deserved to be recognized for one of his biggest wins yet – beating the No. 3 team in the country on the road. Yeah, his players blew a big lead, but they earned the win at the end… and the “human error” Boyle’s talking about screwed them out of it. Human error by the actual participants in the game is the only kind of human error that should decide an outcome, and replay technology, even if it’s not perfect, makes that scenario more likely.