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It has not been a good couple of weeks for the Big 12. Last week Walt Anderson was apologizing for some calls made in error against Texas in their heartbreaking loss to Oklahoma State, and this week he’s apologizing to the Cowboy’s latest opponent, Kansas State.

Big 12 Conference supervisor of officials Walt Anderson acknowledges improper first-down distance enforcement occurred during Saturday’s K-State at Oklahoma State game. During the second-quarter, with the ball at the K-State 45, OSU was flagged for offensive holding during a 41-yard pass completion. After the 10-yard penalty was marked off, moving the ball back to the OSU 45, the chains were mistakingly set for the yard-to-gain.

“Accurracy and adherence to Conference policies and officiating mechanics are vital to the proper administration of the rules in all games,” said Anderson. “Disciplinary actions will be addressed with both the field officials and chain crew.”

The controversy came near the end of the second quarter as the Cowboys trailed the Wildcats 28-13.  On third down, Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph found Marcell Ateman for a 19-yard gain, and a first down. Just one problem, OSU was a good four yards short of the first down. Something easier seen on TV than in person thanks to the digital yellow line, and the fact that the first-down marker was incorrectly set on the Kansas State 40, instead of the KSU 35.

The mistake seems to have been made between the Cowboys first and second down. Here you can see that on first down the chains are correctly set on the 45 and 35 yard lines.

However, as you can see below, by second down the chains have moved. They are now lined up on the 50 and 40 yard lines.

Was Texas on to something last week? Is this a mass conspiracy by Big 12 officials to do everything in their power to ensure the Pokes win?

Of course not. The answer is far less exciting. On first down Rudolph completed a 42-yard pass over the middle to Jhajuan Seales to the three yard line. Because of the hurry up, the chain gang took off down the field to set up. However, play was called back thanks to a holding penalty, and the chains were incorrectly reset five yards too far. It wasn’t a conspiracy, it was just human error.

How it affected the outcome of the game is debatable. The Cowboys were down by 15 points, and that drive led to a touchdown. Had they not scored there it may have changed how OSU came out in the third quarter. Although, it’s hard to fathom a bad spot in the second quarter cost the Wildcats a win. It also might not have even affected the play, let alone the game. Upon replay it’s pretty clear that Ateman broke his route at the first down marker. Rudolph wasn’t under pressure to make the throw, and had the marker been in the correct spot, Ateman would have most likely run the extra five yards.

In the end it’s more egg on the Big 12’s face, and it’s a mistake that should have been caught by the officials. The conference needs to take measures to keep these embarrassing errors from happening, but human error will always be a part of the game. It sucks when it’s your team affected in a negative way, but sometimes life just isn’t fair, and we all just have to move on.

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