The Mountain West released a video Thursday afternoon that the league hoped would vindicate its officiating crew’s disputed call to wipe out Boise State’s game-winning 3-pointer the previous night.
Needless to say, the video did not accomplish what the league thought it would.
The video showed that the replay technology referees used to wave off James Webb’s buzzer beater featured a clock mistakenly operating about twice the speed of the game clock at Moby Arena. That explains why referees determined that it took Webb 1.2 or 1.3 seconds to get his shot off when media outlets timed it at around six or seven tenths of a second.
The play in question began with eight tenths of a second remaining in the first overtime period of a game Boise State eventually lost to Colorado State in double overtime. Webb caught an inbound pass with his momentum carrying him away from the basket yet banked in a tie-breaking 3-pointer that left his finger tips well before the clock struck triple zeroes, seemingly giving the Broncos a dramatic road victory.
As Boise State players mobbed Webb in the corner of the floor, referees reviewed replay footage of the final shot for several minutes. They eventually nullified Webb’s buzzer beater, ruling that the game clock did not start on time when he touched the ball and he held the ball for more than eight tenths of a second before releasing the shot.
“It was not taken in that 0.8-second time frame but actually closer to 1.2 or 1.3,” referee Dave Hall said in a statement Wednesday night. The Mountain West then backed Hall with a statement of its own Thursday, insisting that “officials executed the appropriate protocol and made the correct call.”
What neither the referees nor league officials apparently noticed was the discrepancy between the clock on the backboard and the on-screen stopwatch. In the time the stopwatch counts six tenths of a second, the clock on the backboard shows that only three tenths of a second have actually elapsed.
How is it possible the stopwatch clock was running double time? Deadspin’s Tim Burke has a theory that seems very plausible.
In the above video, you see Webb touching the ball for 39 frames. That would be 1.3 seconds, if the broadcast were being produced at 30 frames per second—but the broadcast was being produced at 60, not 30 frames per second. That mismatch is what we believe led to the replay system’s on-screen “stopwatch” counting time at double-speed.
There’s only one fair thing for the Mountain West to do if it discovers that malfunctioning replay technology cost Boise State a victory. The league has to reverse the outcome.
This isn’t a situation where there was still time left on the clock for something else to happen. Or one where a judgment call by a referee turned the game in one team’s favor. This is an imperfect storm, an equipment error that came with triple zeroes on the clock and wiped out a game-winning shot.”
Is it possible the Mountain West would consider such an unusual move? At this point, that’s unclear.
A Boise State spokesman told Yahoo Sports that his school will not file a formal protest and has not heard from the Mountain West since the league released its statement Thursday afternoon. A Mountain West spokesman declined comment to Yahoo Sports except to say that the league is standing by its previous statement for now.
Only Boise State coach Leon Rice has reacted since the release of the replay video, and he tactfully made it clear that no other outcome will satisfy him besides Boise State retroactively being declared the winner.
“Let’s get it right no matter how long it takes,” Rice told reporters in Boise on Thursday.
“If you made an egregious error like that, why wouldn’t the game end like that? The game should have been over if it was good. I don’t question the officials now that I see that. They saw what they saw and they made their ruling off that. But if there’s an error in that system, our guys are the ones suffering because of it.”
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