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An Open Letter to Big Ten Referees


To Whom It May Concern,

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In the second quarter of Nebraska’s 33-28 loss to BYU, a Tommy Armstrong pass sailed over Husker tight end David Sutton’s head.

There was no way he was going to catch it. In fact, no one in the Cougars’ wide receiver corps could have either, and this group seemingly shares genetics with Big Bird.

This is the point where the necessity of these words should cease. Instead, BYU defensive back Jordan Preator nailed a hit so low, he had time to roll Sutton’s legs over his entire back padding before exiting the field of play.

Sutton instinctively tried to get up because that’s what humans do after they’re knocked down, but couldn’t. He wasn’t tired. He needed a cart to be helped off the field.

As much as I’d love to be writing in regard to the cookie bouquet I intend to petition the good people of the college football world to send the Grand Poobah of Big Ten officials, I ask: why wasn’t this act penalized?

Even if not intentionally malicious, no football player should get away with that sort of stupidity/carelessness.

Just in case this comes off as some random Husker hack with sour grapes, I’m totally chill with the hands to the face penalty on Kevin Maurice that resulted in Taysom Hill scampering through open field.

I was confused, perhaps we all were confused, but we’re human. Mistakes happen.

However, I refuse to overlook the hypocrisy of shoving rules down our collective throats in the name of “player safety” only to have a player’s well-being be so negligently overlooked.

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Something worth keeping in mind is that the Cougars aren’t exactly sweethearts. This is a team that brawled during their bowl game last season resulting in a handful of suspensions during the actual game being called last Saturday.

They were ranked No. 125 (out of 128) in penalties last season and 114 (out of 125) the season before that.

Bronco Mendenhall himself has said, “When I’ve seen BYU play at its best, the teams I’ve watched in the past, they are physically dominant, they are very tough. They are on the edge of playing within the rules because they are so aggressive.”

I dig aggressive football. I do not dig when a flag isn’t thrown when that line is crossed and Preator didn’t step over it, he rolled over it.

I’m not suggesting he should’ve been ejected nor should he be suspended. A simple penalty flag that would’ve advanced the ball 15 yards in Nebraska’s favor, that’s it. That’s all anyone in Memorial Stadium sporting red wanted.

Well, that and a win, but that’s beside the point.

Why you chose to not throw that flag, I don’t know. Maybe it truly was a no-call to you. Maybe you were afraid of Mendenhall and the BYU sideline’s reaction. Maybe you saw something shiny.

At this point, you have two options: Publicly admit you messed up or don’t preach about how important “player safety” is to me, fans, coaches, analysts, etc.

Hopefully Sutton will be alright, but he deserves an apology if nothing else.

I can’t say I’ll be surprised if no phone rings in Lincoln regarding the call much like no flag was thrown.

Update (9/7/15):

David Sutton will be out of action for 8-plus weeks as a result of the play.

— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow Brandon on Twitter @eightlaces and Periscope (eightlaces), and like his Facebook page.