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Top 10 controversial calls of the decade

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A referee referendum

NCAA Football: Quick Lane Bowl-Boston College vs Maryland Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

We all have ‘em. Those games that whenever they’re mentioned, only one play pops to mind. Not the dozens of plays where our team failed to execute, but the one instance where a refs bad call (or lack thereof) screwed us royally. It seems like our Texas A&M Aggies have been involved in more than our fair share of these situations in recent years, so to help fill the offseason void, here are the top 10 controversial calls in a Texas A&M football game this decade. Some of these are for the Aggies, and some are against, but all of them are up for debate.

Honorable Mention:

“Legal block” on Christian Kirk punt return TD

Texas A&M at Mississippi State (2016)

39:53- The Aggies entered this game against Mississippi State ranked fourth in the first Playoff rankings, with their only loss to top-ranked Alabama. Thanks to a flat performance and an early injury to QB Trevor Knight, it looked like A&M would go into halftime trailing 28-7, but that all changed when Christian Kirk reeled off a blistering 93-yard touchdown return. But Bulldog fans will quickly point out that he was sprung by what definitively could have been called as a block in the back.

Ultimately A&M lost the game anyway, so no harm, no foul, and no spot in our top 10.

10. Kellen Mond “stepped out of bounds”

Texas A&M vs. Arkansas (2017)

53:18- Early on it looked as though Kevin Sumlin’s Aggies were finally going to drop a game to the Arkansas Razorbacks, down 21-7 in the first quarter. That was until freshman quarterback darted for an 89-yard touchdown run. Or so it seemed. The referee inexplicably ruled Mond out of bounds at the 10 yard line, despite his foot not coming within six inches of the boundary. The play was reviewed, and even though he clearly scored, the referee had already blown the play dead. A&M would go on to settle for a field goal.

Luckily A&M went on to win the game in overtime. If they hadn’t, this call, which directly cost A&M four points, would have been much higher on this list.

9. No targeting against Speedy Noil

Texas A&M at Alabama (2016)

28:00- This play ultimately had little effect on the final result of the game. Alabama was the better team and won handily. But it was a prime example of referees either missing a call, or just not fully understanding the targeting rule. There was undoubtedly helmet-to-helmet contact, with the defender leading with the crown of their helmet, and in cases like this, whether or not the player was defenseless is irrelevant. Straight from the NCAA rulebook:

No player shall target and make forcible contact against an opponent with the crown (top) of his helmet. This foul requires that there be at least one indicator of targeting (See Note 1 below). When in question, it is a foul.

8. The head bob

Texas A&M at Alabama (2012)

2:31:40- No Aggie fan wants to hear it, but we definitely got away with one to wrap up our epic upset of top-ranked Alabama in 2012. With A&M lined up to punt the ball back to Bama in the closing seconds, Ben Malena, situated in the backfield, clearly bobs his head in order to draw Crimson Tide defenders offsides. The refs missed it, the offside penalty gave A&M a first down and they ran out the clock.

Certainly Alabama still had work to do, needing a touchdown with only 0:40 seconds left to play and no timeouts. But I’m sure they would’ve liked to have that chance.

7. No pass interference

Texas A&M vs. Wake Forest (2017 Belk Bowl)

3:07:30- If you like defense, this was not the game for you. Wake Forest eventually won the game 55-52, but they were certainly helped by a non-call in the final minute. With the Aggies down three and at midfield, Nick Starkel threw deep to Jhamon Ausbon, who had beaten his man downfield. The defender dragged Ausbon to the ground inside the 10 before the ball arrived, and while the throw was high, it was certainly close enough that Ausbon could have made a play on it. If called, that penalty would have set A&M up just a few yards away from field goal range, giving them the opportunity to force overtime or potentially go for the win. As it happened, A&M would lose the ball on downs and the Kevin Sumlin era ended with a thud.

6. HORSE-DAMN-COLLAR!

Auburn at Texas A&M (2013)

2:26:34- This is one many die hard A&M fans still haven’t gotten over. In another offensive shootout, Johnny Manziel and the Aggies were driving down the field in the closing minutes looking to take the lead and the win. On a 3rd and 18, Manziel scrambled to his left and was dragged down from behind by the Auburn defender. The penalty would have given A&M a first down around the 11 yard line with 20 seconds to play. You have to like Johnny Football’s odds to punch it in given three chances from close range.

But as we all know, it wasn’t called, A&M failed to convert on the subsequent fourth down, and Auburn won the game. That play, and that game, would have given A&M their second straight 10-win season.

5. LSU is still offsides

LSU at Texas A&M (2014)

1:09:01- When LSU fans complain about calls in the teams’ 2018 affair (we’ll get to that later), many an Aggie used 2014 as a rebuttal. In an otherwise dismal season, A&M put up a fight in the regular season finale against LSU, led by true freshman quarterback Kyle Allen. The team was at midfield, down six, with 1:33 to go and a timeout in their pocket. An LSU defensive tackle seemed to clearly jump offsides, prompting analyst Jesse Palmer to exclaim “free play!” Allen heeded Palmer’s claim, tossing a jump ball deep that was picked off. Unfortunately, the referees disagreed with the assessment of every other person with eyes, no offsides was called, and LSU kneeled out the clock. A&M remained winless against LSU since joining the SEC.

For now...

4. Quartney Davis’s fumble and “touchback”

Clemson at Texas A&M (2018)

2:18:40- One of the major bright spots of Jimbo Fisher’s first year at the helm in College Station was the team seemingly reclaiming their home turf. The Aggies went 6-1 at Kyle Field, with their only defeat being a narrow two-point loss to eventual national champion Clemson. Of course, you could argue that shouldn’t have been a loss at all.

A&M had the ball in Clemson territory with more than two minutes left, down eight points. Mond threw for a first down up the middle to receiver Quartney Davis, who broke it outside, and while diving for the pylon, fumbled the ball out of bounds. Referees ruled the ball had gone inside the pylon, and was therefore a touchback and Clemson ball. Replays were anything but conclusive, but also not obvious enough to overturn the call on the field. A&M would miraculously get the ball back and score again, but this time with only seconds remaining, leaving them no recourse after a failed two-point conversion.

Dammit.

3. So many things

LSU at Texas A&M (2018)

I’m not going to rehash all of these calls again. It’s been done so many other times. Watch the video above as well as our analysis from last year regarding the various calls that LSU felt were wrong. Ultimately I don’t see a single call that was blatantly bad. The pass interference call in the 7th overtime was the worst of the bunch, but we’ve certainly seen worse PI calls before. All of the other ones were either 50/50 calls that could’ve gone either way, or calls that, while very close, were obviously called correctly, either on the field or after review. Sorry Tigers (but not really).

2. Malcome Kennedy false start

Texas A&M vs. Arkansas (2014)

2:48:50- You probably didn’t expect to see this call so high on this list. But it checks a lot of the boxes of what constitutes a controversial call:

  • There was obviously a false start that the refs missed (Malcome Kennedy clearly jumps seconds before the snap)
  • It directly led to points for A&M (Kennedy caught a touchdown pass on that play)
  • It happened late (Arkansas had only one possession to recover from the ref’s blunder)
  • It negatively affected the losing team

In a series where Arkansas has seemed snakebit for the past seven years, this was perhaps their best chance to secure a victory. The refs didn’t necessarily cause the loss, but their blunder sure made things harder for the Razorbacks.

F*** you, ref. F*** you.

Texas at Texas A&M (2011)

For you youngins out there, Texas A&M and Texas used to play each other in football. And in their last meeting in 2011, the Longhorns were gifted a potentially game-saving flag that still has me seething to this day. On 1st and 15 from inside their own 25, Texas quarterback Case McCoy overthrew his receiver on the right sideline, and immediately after the ball bounced off the receiver’s hands, A&M DB Trent Hunter pulls up and has a glancing (at best) blow to the receiver’s helmet. The refs throw a flag for a personal foul (targeting didn’t exist yet), the Longhorns got a first down, drive into field goal range, and Justin Tucker is forever seared into Aggies’ memories.

I’m sorry for putting you through this again. If you see a glaring omission form this list (and since this is all either from my memory or some quick Googling, there probably is one), tell us about it in the comments.

Poll

Which of these calls do you consider the most egregious?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Block in the back on Kirk TD return
    (3 votes)
  • 4%
    Out of bounds on Mond TD run
    (27 votes)
  • 1%
    No targeting on Speedy Noil
    (10 votes)
  • 0%
    Ben Malena head bob
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Belk Bowl pass interference
    (5 votes)
  • 15%
    Auburn horsecollar
    (100 votes)
  • 6%
    Offsides against LSU
    (44 votes)
  • 12%
    Clemson pylongate
    (83 votes)
  • 2%
    Everything in 2018 LSU
    (15 votes)
  • 0%
    Malcome Kennedy false start
    (5 votes)
  • 54%
    Trent Hunter personal foul
    (356 votes)
650 votes total Vote Now