Rants, ravings, and somewhat sensical opinions following the wild, wacky, and wide-wide world of Purdue sports.
Whether it be a movie, a book, a good story, a business meeting, whatever, we as people, tend to analyze the ending. Whatever it is, the end is what is focused on, because it is what is the lasting taste in your mouth. Human nature. Recency bias. I totally get it.
Enter your logic and reasoning class that you probably didn’t take at Purdue. As a communication major, I did, and I got a kick out of it. The logic philosophies were always applicable to pretty much any conversation, whether it be sports, business, drunken banter, Twitter… you catch my drift.
Logical fallacies always got my attention. Spoiler alert, they’re everywhere too! I won’t bore you with the meat of the argument, but in all of those aforementioned communication scenarios are steeped in logical fallacies as well.
One that really rings a bell, currently, is the “Fallacy of the Single Cause” which perfectly exemplifies that train wreck that we witnessed on Saturday.
Essentially, this fallacy determines that one cause caused a certain event. If we, as human beings only looked at the last 50 some odd seconds of the game, we would determine that one series of unsportsmanlike penalties handed Syracuse the game. The final minute is crunch time, and that is what matters.
Not so fast, my friend. Were there boneheaded penalties perpetrated by the Boilermakers at the end of the game? Sure. This game was not lost in the last minute of the game. This game was also lost in the previous 59 minutes.
Far be it from me to be the one to bring this to light, but multiple things can happen at once. A confluence of issues led to this failure. Not a single cause.
Purdue committed 13 penalties for 138 yards, missed a field goal, missed an extra point, and had a late kickoff out of bounds, while only giving up 306 yards, and simultaneously coming back from two scores down, in the fourth quarter, in a game that they statistically dominated, and lost the game on a penalty aided touchdown with 7 seconds left.
My word that is a run-on sentence, but this is my column and I am keeping it. It perfectly exemplifies what is going on here.
Don’t get it? This game was a mess.
There are fans out there that are going all “Chicken Little” about this game. They want a scorched earth. Fire everyone and let God sort ’em out, type of thing. People are quitting on the program, people are furious, people are hysterically sobbing at the ending of this game. STOP.
Purdue was 1.5pt dogs by the time kickoff happened. They were not favored. Also they should have won. Yes, I get it, Purdue has 2 losses so far this season. Two losses against two teams that were favored to beat the Boilermakers, and two losses that Purdue probably should have won. Two losses that happened in the last minutes of the game, but two losses that were steeped in mistakes that should not have happened. This team is fine. They have areas in which they need to correct, but in 180 minutes Purdue has played like the better team in approximately 170 of those minutes. Unfortunately, in those 10 minutes, the Boilermakers have embarrassingly let two games slip away, in frustrating fashion. Footballs bounce in strange ways, sometimes.
I, like most of you, are not so content right now. Things aren’t exactly Rosey in Ben-Ville, and I will put my stream of consciousness down on the inter-webs for y’all to read. If you’re looking at this column for my normal recap, you ain’t gunna get it. This is my early Festivus “Airing of the Grievances”, and I have a lot on my mind.
Remember, folks, Saturday was not caused by one single event.
I am a Brohm supporter, but like I have already said, I will not carry water for him.
The high-flying offense wasn’t there when it was needed. Purdue could have had Syracuse down multiple scores early in the game, but they kept tripping on their own jock-straps. There is a philosophy that playing aggressive is good, which is true. There is another philosophy that you need to score more points than your opponent to win. That is the bottom line. Why Brohm went for it on 4th and short, when getting a few points would have stymied the momentum early in the game was incredibly dumb. Bad football. Get the points and play on.
Why, early in the second half, did Brohm try to force the running game leading to a stagnant offense? Purdue needed to score coming out of half, and he did the one thing that Purdue can’t do… run the ball. Not good football.
Why were there multiple unsportsmanlike penalties at the end of the game? One of which on Brohm, after taking a last minute lead. I’ll talk about that in a bit.
The Not So Special Teams:
Blocked PAT. Missed Field Goal. 4 points left on the field there. Purdue lost by 3. Oh, and a kickoff out of bounds late in the game. Chef’s kiss.
Need to Play Smarter:
Penalties coming out of the wazoo is not good. It is official, this team is not disciplined. I said earlier, 13 penalties for 138 yards. These penalties were the difference in the game.
While I believe that a good portion of those penalties were “questionable” some of them were a completely due to poor decision making, and a lack of discipline. I am not going to name names, but there was a late hit, out of bounds, that gave Syracuse new life. Kick the ball out of bounds? You earned that one. If you want to win close games, nip that immediately.
However, I am speaking in generalities. I do believe that some of the penalties were incorrect. I also believe some of the penalties were understandable given the circumstances. The reason is pretty simple…
I am very hard on officials, I get it. I come from a family that were athletes, coaches, umpires, and referees. I have been seasoned by multiple generations in my family to point out when a bad call is made, but also to understand that this is part of the game. Everyone makes mistakes.
Where my upbringing turns me from miffed, to frustrated, to the point of yelling at my television is when the officiating is unbalanced.
I am not trying to overstate this. I am typing this over 24 hours after the game is over. I am sober. I am of “sound” mind, and clear headed.
This is the worst officiated football game that I have ever witnessed in nearly 4 decades of watching the sport. The. Worst. Period.
The unbalanced nature of this game was incredible. I am going to write organically here, so lets see if I can list this out.
- Syracuse’s offensive line literally tackled Purdue’s defensive line on multiple plays. Including the game-winning TD in the final minute. Few were called.
- Purdue got called for pass interference multiple times for the exact actions that Syracuse did not get called for.
- Purdue had 3 takeaways negated this game due to weak or even phantom penalties.
- Purdue got called for two pass interference calls on uncatchable passes, one of which was so short that it was intercepted, but negated.
- A targeting call was overturned that would have been upheld in any other game in the NCAA.
This was a Big Ten officiating crew, which makes this performance less surprising. However, this game was being called in a way that appeared this crew was actively trying to show that they were not Big Ten homers.
That is great. They should not be Big Ten homers. They should call the game fairly, not giving Syracuse the benefit of every 50/50 call or calling phantom penalties to show how “unbiased” you are. The Big Ten has had horrifically bad officiating performances for the greater part of the past 30 years. It is no secret that the powers that be, who are sitting at Big Ten HQ, simply do not want to hold their officials accountable for their actions. In a perfect world this crew would be reviewed for their ineptitude, but we all know that nothing will happen. These officials will go back to their homes, look themselves in the mirror without the slightest bit of shame, and more than likely sleep well at night. Oh well.
But Wait, There’s More:
That’s not it, though. There are a couple of other penalties that I would like to talk about. You see, this game had intense action. Emotions are running high. Both teams were jawing back and forth in between plays, and tensions were reaching a crescendo.
On the PAT after Purdue took the lead with less than a minute to go, Payne Durham got into a verbal scrap with a Syracuse player. Both athletes were facemask to facemask, swapping pleasantries. As Durham started back peddling to get to his bench, removing himself from the mutually heated moment, he is flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. Awful timing.
Should Durham have been trash talking at that moment? Absolutely not. What is strange to me, however, is why wasn’t the Syracuse defender called for unsportsmanlike conduct too? Those two were mutually tangoing. Now, I don’t know what the exact vernacular which was being used in this argument, so I don’t know who had the more vicious burns/insults. I just figure that a competent official would have given offsetting penalties, or (better yet) just broke the scrum up and let them go back to their sidelines. Durham was literally leaving the situation when the flag flew.
Clearly there was some confusion going on during this timeframe. Jeff Brohm just saw a mutual argument on the field, amongst two opposing players in the heat of the moment, get flagged. In this instance ONLY Durham getting penalized. Brohm, looking for an answer, and probably infuriated by 59 minutes of horrendous, one sided officiating, reacts strongly to yet another example of poor decision making by the much maligned Big Ten crew. BAM. Brohm gets an unsportsmanlike penalty. Awful.
Both Durham and Brohm need to keep their cool here. The worst possible thing to do is to get a dead ball penalty in this circumstance. Football is a game of controlled aggression.
Devil’s advocate would say that Durham’s penalty should have been offsetting or a non call. Devil’s advocate would also say that without Durham’s penalty, Brohm’s wouldn’t have happened either.
Brohm said, post game press conference, “They called something on Payne Durham, I talked to Payne, he says hes the one who got pushed, and he said a couple of words. I was trying to get an explanation from the head referee who is standing in the far endzone. They called another penalty when I was 40 yards away. So obviously… I [have] to let them make their calls, and move forward, and not allow it to cost us.”
Whether or not Brohm’s account of things is how the official interpreted the circumstance, is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. This game was decided by a series of trigger-happy flags late in the game.
Break It Down:
This is a tough one, folks. If you’re still with me, this far into this snarky rabbit hole that I’ve dug here, then good for you.
This Purdue team will be fine. There is plenty of time for this ship to right itself. Is Purdue going to be a 10 win team? Nah. We all wanted it, but it just isn’t going to happen.
These mistakes need to be fixed, quickly.
When Purdue loses like this (which seems to happen frequently) there is a hyper-quick propensity for them to become a national punchline.
I was hoping for Purdue to not become that punchline this season. Here we are.
A Look Ahead:
Purdue looks to bounce back for their homecoming game against, an overmatched Florida Atlantic team. Purdue opens up as a 19.5 pt favorite, so look for Purdue to have a get-right game before entering the bulk of Big Ten season.
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