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A comment on my brief Air Force Done post from Buckeye El Caballo de Sangre who’s been meaning to submit something like this to mgoblog’s mailbag:

On the subject of “questionable calls”…it’s something that’s bothered me at least since the outrage over the Crable-on-Troy Smith personal foul call a few years back (I’m a Buckeye fan, but one who tries to hate y’all in a congenial, intelligent way, if that makes sense), and bothered me more with the over-and-over-and-OVER nature of the complaining about calls v. ND in hockey this year, plus the Michigan-specific penalties Brian recommended/demanded (is such a theoretical specialized suspension even allowed by the rules?) for Sparty’s hooligans (along with the implicit endorsement of attempted assault well after the fact by the injured player’s father): Do you guys think that this is bad luck, or an anti-Wolverine conspiracy?

Note that the rightness or wrongness of the calls is immaterial to the question; I don’t have a dog in that fight anyhow. They could all be good calls that Michigan partisans hate simply because they went against Michigan, or all be bad calls that Michigan fans are justifiably enraged about. In either case, the question remains – which is it: bad luck or conspiracy? Because, really, it has to be one or the other, and the tone of a lot of what a lot of you Michigan guys have to say about it strongly implies the latter. But I don’t know that that’s true, so I’m asking. Thanks.

I’ll take a stab at that.

It’s hard to discuss this without getting into specific examples and rightness or wrongness. I don’t think any sane person thinks there’s a conspiracy or bias afoot (short of the Spartan Bob clock incident).   It’d be painful if years from now someone proves that the winged helmet draws disproportionate attention of the refs.

It’s true that Michigan teams have got the bad end of some calls at critical junctures over the years. page 2 put the 1979 Charles White "touchdown" on its top 10 worst calls of all time in any sport. And MSU fans are sick of the griping about Desmond Howard no call in the end zone that persists today.

The griping seems to come up after every bad loss.   Part of me wishes it would stop but it’s also part of being a fan.   Understandably we don’t talk about or even remember the equally great breaks Michigan has gotten over the years, a few that come to mind:

  • Webber probably traveled before calling the extra time-out in 1993 NCAA finals. Of course in retrospect it would have been better for Michigan if they would have made that call.   Maybe there is a conspiracy here.
  • There’s some bad call(s) in the Desmond game and in the Spartan Bob game that any MSU can rattle off for you if you buy him a beer at Revere’s.   I mention this because for every game where Michigan was wronged, I’m sure the other side has its laundry list of incidents.

And a couple more that occurred on the cusp of Michigan’s greatest wins in the last 20 years:

  • Many consider the foul that sent Rumeal Robinson to the line in the 1989 finals a travesty, or at least “one of the most controversial fouls in Final Four history”.
  • You could argue that Washington State should have been given time for one more play in the 1998 Rose Bowl (although, haha, there was a terrible missed call that set-up that play).

The reputation for griping about bad calls is proliferated by many factors:

  • Michigan hoops/football/hockey frequent appearances on big stages over the past few decades.
  • A large & vocal fan base. Exhibit A is the crazy number of sites out there like this one.   mgoblog is one of (if not the) most read college football sites.
  • The volume of MSM writers with Michigan ties.
  • A desire by fans to explain a number of heartbreaking losses over the years particularly in football.
  • Yes, more than our share of high profile tough calls.

So, is there a there a anti-Wolverine conspiracy?  That’s silly.  Does Michigan seem to get jobbed more often than not?  Through the eyes of the millions of M fans, yep.   Is every State, Irish or Buckeye fan reading this rattling off a list in their heads of times the Wolverines benefitted from a questionable call?  Almost certainly. 


  1. Are you kidding me? An anti-Wolverine conspiracy?

    2002: “Penn State had one last shot before OT, driving from their own 20 yard line to the Michigan 49, but on third and five a long sideline pass caught by Tony Johnson was controversially ruled out of bounds directly in front of the Penn State bench. Television replays demonstrated conclusively that Johnson was in bounds, but that information came too late for Penn State.”

    2005: “Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr convinced the officials to put two seconds back on the clock during the Wolverines’ final drive, which would prove fatal to Penn State when on Michigan’s final play, a touchdown pass to Mario Manningham, the ball was snapped with a second to play.”

    And this year, didn’t you guys get a touchdown when the guy stepped on the freaking upright?

    Shut up, and man up.

  2. Apparently, Devon didn’t do too well on the verbal portion of his SATs. He missed the part immediately following the conspiracy clause where it says, and I quote, “That’s silly.”

  3. The very fact that this blog has a post up to that ends is enough to intimate his true intentions, Christopher. And FYI, I aced the SATs.

  4. Apparently Devon also didn’t read the part about how the post was in response to a comment/question posted by a reader – and an apparent Buckeye fan reader at that. Seems to me, MVictors is just trying to be responsive to readers. Here’s something else to add the list of legitimate beefs by non-UM fans: the Kansas/Michigan State clock game back in the 1986 Sweet 16. (Yes, I was a die-hard Sparty fan when I was a naive child and that, along with Eddie Murray missing a 43-yard friggin’ chip shot against the 49ers in the playoffs back in 1983-4 are the two most painful sports memories of my youth. Glad to see Sparty avenged the 1986 loss. But, I digress.) I’m not sure we whine any more than any other school with as broad and passionate a fan base as Michigan’s. Maybe our bloggers do. Damn bloggers. (Personally, Penn State fans seem to whine more than anybody else.)

  5. Devon, maybe read the post again. That said, by rattling off the examples of injustices you’ve illustrated my comment in the last sentence, although I don’t think you read that far.

  6. Of course you aced your SATs and still chose State Penn… Here in Michigan we hear that all the time out of Sparty… as in, “yeah, I got accepted to Michigan but all my friends decided to go to State instead.”

  7. Chris, I personally guarantee you that I got a better score on my SATs than you.

    I got accepted to, among others, Syracuse Newhouse School of Communications, American, BU, GW, Binghamton, and Wisconsin. I chose Penn State a) because they offered me money, b) were the cheapest school I got into with a football team, and c) is close to home (Long Island). I’m in the Honors Program here at PSU, and we are a top 50 university. So really, what are you talking about?

    I read the column, Greg, and I’m still a bitter Penn State fan, but I do recognize what you’re saying. But I don’t think anyone really has the right to bitch about refs, especially when it hasn’t directly impacted the result of a game.

  8. >> So really, what are you talking about?

    1. I’m talking about trolls such as yourself who give total strangers their resume wherever they go in a fit of overcompensating for their shortcomings; that and people running around going “man up”.

    B. I really don’t give a flying fuck what you personally guarantee. Read the article again. Slow down, take the emotion out of it, read each word one at a time, sound out all the syllables if you need to, change your diaper if it is soiled, — nobody is bitching about the refs.

  9. Chris, I don’t see what your fucking deal is. Admittedly, my first comment was one made with little provocation, and with years of bitter hatred of Michigan and the bullshit calls they’ve seemed to get at the hands of my Nittany Lions, behind them. But you’re retreating to ad hominem attacks on my goddamn character just as I’m trying to clear up my image and apologize.
    What I can’t stand is pricks like you, who will call someone out, then back off and continue to provoke.
    I’ve admitted it before, and I’ll say it again: my first comment was off-base given the theme of the blog post. However, it’s silly for any fan of any team to start bitching about refs, because their opposition will rattle off times, as Greg says, that they got the very same calls. So basically, I’m agreeing with Greg here. Do you understand that?
    I’ll leave it right here, can you beat a 1520, Chris? You call out my SAT score, I’ll call out yours.

  10. Devon… troll on somewhere else. You started this; not me. You were the one whining about the article and then continued whining when I questioned your ability (along with 2 others) to comprehend the written word.

    Do you know how lame you sound, “with years of bitter hatred of Michigan and the bullshit calls they’ve seemed to get at the hands of my Nittany Lions, behind them”??? Hatred? For someone who is reportedly so smart, do you actually understand the power of that word??? Guess what, you weren’t on the team, and it’s just a game. Get over it and get over yourself.

    Now you’re challenging me to a SAT score showdown. What’s next, comparing who has the most impressive title, comparing tax returns, would that make you feel more manly??? Maybe my score is higher. Maybe it isn’t. Maybe I took the ACT instead. What is your GMAT score??? I’ll show you mine if you show me yours!!! HA HA HA! Troll on somewhere else… I have a term paper I need to polish up this weekend, I don’t have the time to continue this circle jerk with you. I am NOT taking your bait.

    So keep on boasting about yourself (3 consecutive posts now); I don’t really care. I don’t need to hand out my resume to every stranger on the internet to feel secure about myself.

    Call me a “prick”… I don’t care about that either. No matter how you try to spin it, the fact of the matter is you were crying, like the little State Penn bitch that you are, about a post which said absolutely nothing which you claimed it did. When the entire forum called b.s., you decided to turn your pent up frustrations, probably from having to go through life with such a pathetically small penis and hence running around parroting “1520” all the time, on me. I’ve never met you, yet I already know you’re a fucking joke. I must say, it’s a blast to push your buttons over absolutely nothing… 1520, 1520, 1520, whatever ha ha ha.

    Go BLUE!!!

  11. El Caballo de Sangre

    Thanks for the response, Greg.

    I’m still wondering, though, about what you (or anybody else who’d care to address it) thinks about Brian’s response to the Sparty incident this past hockey season. It seemed a little unhinged to me (which should not – AT ALL – be taken as an attempt to minimize the seriousness of said incident). It’s one thing to say that you can appreciate the righteous anger of somebody’s dad in that situation, but quite another to approve of criminal behavior.

    • El C – I think the Kampfer incident is another topic. It really doesn’t have anything to do with refs or calls or how M fans feel about it. I realize you are trying to tie Brian’s reaction to that incident to the broader issue of how fans react to calls, etc., but I think that’s part of the comment you need to take up with Cook. I wrote a little bit about why Bruce Kampfer got a pass in the media and with the fans – but it didn’t quite get to your question. I understand why he did it but I don’t think that excuses his behavior. Red Berenson said something like “I can’t coach the parents” which I think sums up his dissatisfaction with Bruce Kampfer’s reaction and I’m with him.

  12. Chris/Devon- In thick Irish cop accent “OK boys, that’s quite enough now. Move along.”

  13. El Caballo de Sangre

    Right on, Greg – that’s what I was getting at in my original comment that you turned into this post: I really want to take this up with Brian, but because it’s basically accusing him of dangerous irrationality on this subject, it’s hard to find a way (especially given my Buckeye-fan status) to do it without it being dismissed out of hand as dickitude. I guess your “questionable calls” line post-AFA just made me want to put out a feeler to see if anybody else saw it too. In any case, thanks again for addressing it.

    Before I go, though, I wouldn’t be a good Buckeye if I didn’t take the opportunity to wish you and yours all the same success (and great calls!) in the ’09-’10 seasons – in all the sports that “matter” anyway – as you had in the ’08-’09 ones. Ha! So long for now.