Big East Forgives But Forgets

Ever wonder what happened to Mark McAnaney, the football official who failed to blow the whistle? You know on the play when UConn’s Larry Taylor called for a fair catch, then scampered 75 yards for an uncontested touchdown to propel his team to a 21-17 win over Louisville last season.

Not much. He’s back in the striped shirt, working as a back judge, making critical decisions that can affect the outcome of games. Ask any Central Florida fan if McAnaney’s calls made a difference in the Knights’ recent 31-24 overtime loss to South Florida, and you’ll get an earful.

Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese made a promise following the UofL-UConn game that the issue would addressed after the season. The only news forthcoming from the conference office was that a new supervisor of officials had been appointed. Otherwise, nadah, zip, nothing. The Big East doesn’t even provide a roster of football officials.

A report from the Most Serious Sports Network may provide some light on why McAnaney was retained, quoting him as saying other referees that night should accept some of the responsibility:

“Don’t look at me. I recognized that I blew the call almost immediately. I went to the other refs, told them the situation and asked for a do-over. They said no, UConn scores, not my problem. I thought we were teammates, you know?”

Prominently used on playgrounds and in backyards, the do-over has all but disappeared in recent years with the advent of instant replay. “Louisville fans are pissed, and I get that,” said McAnaney. “But leave me out of this. All the other refs had to do was blow the whistle and run the play again. It’s not my fault they ignored my pleas.”

It that’s true, McAnaney deserves credit for trying to undo his error.  The decision by the other officials, to refuse to admit that their crew had blundered, was the more serious mistake.

Fans would have much more respect for officials if they could admit they are not perfect. Too often, officials appear more interested in hiding behind confusing rules and judgment calls, seriously damaging their credibility and harming the integrity of the sport.


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Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

2 thoughts on “Big East Forgives But Forgets

  • September 23, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    Officials need to be held more accountable, that’s for sure.

  • September 24, 2008 at 4:34 am

    Yes, it was terrible, and even worse than the fair kick in the 2005 WVU game call, when it was very clear the ball went 10 yards in the air……

    BUT, we have to move on.

    I think a major boot to the butt this Friday at PJCS, would go a long way in restoring the balance of karma surrounding this Taylor issue…..

    Taylor said he was just “shooing” a fly away from his helmet………:->

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