I'll never forget the moment it happened. It was a cool fall in Baghdad, meaning temps were only reaching the low 100s in the daytime. I was huddled in my Containerized Housing Unit, commonly called a "Choo", with my buddy James. We'd finagled a TV feed from the American Forces Network--no small feat given the paucity of TV access on Camp Striker. It was football season and we needed our B1G fix. James was a dark-sider...a born and bred Ohioan who sold his blessed soul to the forces of evil in the form of Michigan fandom. As I was the one imbued with an abiding love for all things Buckeye, the torch of righteousness naturally fell to my hand. Needless to say the atmosphere could get quite chilly when the topic of football arose. But we were fans to the last, and would not be denied.
The date was November 10th. The anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The eve of Armistice Day (or Veterans Day for you whippersnappers out there). We basked in the rapturous glow of our 13" No.1 Lucky Star brand television as the Buckeyes hosted Illinois through a cloud of fuzz and static. Ohio State was clinging to a tenuous #1 ranking and held a seven point lead early in the first. The Buckeyes had found the endzone in only 23 seconds on fleet feet of Beanie Wells, and looked set to steamroll the University of Chief Illiniwek.
To borrow from our friends (not friends) at UpWorthy.com....
THEN THIS HAPPENED!
I was aghast. James was tittering with glee. What the video doesn't show you is that OSU recovered the fumble in the endzone for a touchback, but the runner was ruled down. There was no review, and Illinois scored on a 3-yard scamper on the next play. The Illini went on to win that game 28-21.
Now, I refuse to go "full PSU" on this matter. That bad call didn't lose the game for OSU. A blown turnover call in the first quarter doesn't lose the game. OSU even led by a touchdown after the next series, but it would be their last lead of the afternoon. Illinois came to play that day in Columbusm and play they did. The men in orange hats gashed the Buckeyes for 300 yards on the ground. The only point is that the call was terrible--possibly the worst in B1G history in terms of flagrant ineptitude. Other bad calls may have hurt more, but it's hard to say that any made the league look more clueless.
That call was so bad, and so obviously blown, that it supposedly led to the firing of at least one B1G official and caused the game to fall under scrutiny in a sports betting investigation. Yahoo! Sports also revealed that the crew in question, which had struggled the week prior in the Purdue/PSU game, was headed by a gentleman with a history of gambling debt, bankruptcy, and child abuse. Needless to say it was not a happy time for B1G.
I remember that game for a number of reasons. James was killed in 2013. Even though he's gone, I still think back every fall to his joyful laughter and his big hand slapping me on the shoulder as he cackled. "Did you see that shit? It couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of assholes!" Football makes for powerful memories, especially when they're tied to the people we care about, or happen at very distinct moments in our lives, or both.
Illinois still makes me cringe a bit, and not just because of their woeful ways. You never know what'll happen when your team plays the hapless Illini. Ask Jerry Kill.
Have a favorite egregious B1G No-Call? Share it in the comments.