By Rob Gray
AMES — A calmer, though still mighty peaved, Paul Rhoads took to the airwaves Friday morning.
The passion-fueled Iowa State football coach took his post-Texas cause national — on The Dan Patrick Show — and it went something like this:
“It’s time for officials to answer for their calls,” Rhoads told Patrick.
The reason for the plea for public accountability stemmed, of course, from the non-fumble call late in the Cyclones’ 31-30 loss Thursday to the Longhorns.
ISU linebacker Jeremiah George appeared to strip the football from Texas running back Johnathan Gray near the goalline before forward progress was lost with 1:08 left.
But officials ruled Gray down by contact on the field — and after further review.
Case McCoy later scored the winning touchdown.
The non-call led to a vociferous Rhoads’ postgame speech that both praised the players on the field and broadcast the broadly-held belief the Cyclones (1-3, 0-1) had a game “taken away from them.”
“You don’t just put an arm around a guy and tell him it’s OK when that happens to him,” Rhoads shouted during the now-viral diatribe.
So, questions remain.
Will the Big 12 Conference respond with an acknowledgement that a wrong call was made — a la the Kansas-ISU games last men’s basketball season?
Will Rhoads be scolded and/or fined for criticizing officials?
Stay tuned, but one thing’s certain:
Rhoads’ stature grew in the aftermath of a devastating loss.
But the non-call aside, he allowed that many other elements of the game could have rendered the final moments moot.
Among the what-ifs …
*Up 27-24 with less than five minutes left, ISU rode tailback Aaron Wimberly to a second and one at the Texas four-yard line.
Two fruitless plays later, on a fourth and three at the six, the Cyclones took a delay of game penalty and settled for a Cole Netten 29-yard field goal with 3:40 left.
“I had confidence in our defense,’ Rhoads said. “I wanted to take a six-point lead and force them to score a touchdown and drive the length of the field. We go (for it) and don’t get it, a field goal ties the football game.”
*Up 13-10 late in the first half, Texas quarterback Case McCoy hit backup receiver John Harris on a Hail Mary-turned-44-yard touchdown. The complexion of the game changed. ISU had defenders in the vicinity, but none got their hands on the football.
“Fell right in his lap,” Cyclone safety Jacques Washington said. “That was a big change of momentum, but we came back and responded in the second half, so we can’t blame that play for anything.”
They’re not entirely blaming the play that prompted another national conversation about officiating, either.
Bottom line: The record reads 1-3 and 0-1.
No “apology” or show of support from national figures or pundits changes that.
So it’s back to work, as always.
No. 20 Texas Tech looms next week.
“Can’t let it linger,” George said. “Because if you think the Texas Tech Red Raiders care about Iowa State getting a game stolen from them, they really don’t.”
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