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NCAA, OVC rules TTU-Lane College stats will not count in their tallies
At least it still counts as a win.
The aftermath from last week’s weather-shortened game between Tennessee Tech and Lane College continues to play out as the Ohio Valley Conference and the NCAA ruled that the statistics from that contest will not count toward the official statistics this season.
However, the Golden Eagles will still be able to count the 43-0 win against the visiting Dragons and claim a 1-2 record. But as far as the national and league stats are reported, it will stand as one less game played.
“The NCAA has a list that shows what stands as a reasonable point of conclusion for a complete game,” said Kyle Schwartz, OVC assistant commissioner for media relations. “In baseball, you have to play five innings or four and a half innings with the home team leading. For the NCAA, the football game had to go at least three quarters to count as far as national stats go.”
TTU athletics director Mark Wilson added, “We respect the decision of the NCAA, and the important thing for us as a program is that it went into the record books as a win. That’s what was most important. We think that it was the right thing to do based on the weather conditions, based on the current score of the game, to terminate that game with the final score determined. We think it was the right thing to do for Lane College, for student-athletes and for our spectators in the best interest of safety.”
The policy is actually a long-standing one for college athletics’ main governing body.
“There was no decision to make because our policy has been in place for more than 40 years,” said Jim Wright, director of statistics for the NCAA. “What happens is when we, the statistics staff was created decades ago, had to decide on a policy, there were certain circumstances where athletic contests may end prematurely for many different reasons. Some of those are covered by the rules of the game. Some are not. But, in all of those cases, we have to determine statistically what, if any, of those numbers recorded would count. This was in place even before I got here and I’ve been here for 35 years.
“What our predecessors did was sit down and look at every sport and determine the reasonable point of conclusion. Any contest that reached that point, all the statistics recorded to that point would count in NCAA stats. On the other hand, if you don’t reach that point, then none of those stats would count. In Tennessee Tech’s game against Lane College, the game was halted with five minutes to go in the second quarter. Clearly, that doesn’t even come close to the reasonable point of conclusion. As soon as we got that information, we sent out a note to Tech and the OVC saying, by the rules of the game, it does count as a win for Tech, but, by the rules of statistics, the numbers can’t count.”
With the game shortened as it was, Tech able to record several school records, which the university will still be able to count, although with an added twist. The most notable example is the negative 23 yards of offense Lane College was held to by the Golden Eagle defense.
According to TTU assistant athletics director for sports information and broadcasting Rob Schabert, the negative-23 tally will be included in the official team records with an asterisk, next to the previous record of one yard for Morehead State in 1975.
“We still want to include the Lane record,” Schabert said, “but, at the same time, it wouldn’t be fair to the guys who played in a complete game who set that record.”
Had the number stood, the national record books would be rewritten.
“That would have been a national record,” Schwartz said, “and that really wouldn’t have been fair to Lane College since they only played 25 minutes instead of the full 60. There’s a lot of factors that could have come in play.”
The total number of offensive plays (17) and the total offensive yardage (-23) would both have been NCAA Football Championship Subdivision records, besting the current record of -12 yards set by Eastern Illinois against Kentucky State in 1982, and the record of offensive plays (31) set in 1989 by Howard against District of Columbia.
The rule isn’t in place to show favoritism toward one team or another, but to try to be fair since it’s uncertain what could have happened in the second half.
“It is a fairness thing for either team,” Wright said. “For example, if we counted those numbers, Tech would hold those FCS records. If you’re the team that’s currently holding that record, which, in this case, Eastern Illinois holds the offensive yardage allowed record, they would have a legitimate beef, saying, ‘Wait a minute, NCAA guys. So you’re wiping out our record of minus-12 total offense and installing Tennessee Tech as the record holder despite the fact they only played 25 minutes of a 60-minute game.’ How could that possibly be fair? That’s exactly why we implemented that reasonable point of conclusion policy.”
The situation is also creating some havoc for the NCAA staff trying to input the results from that game.
“It’s also creating a lot of fun for our IT staff,” Wright said, “since they’re trying to figure out how to call this a win without counting any of the stats.”
But the conference and the NCAA does recognize that it does affect the numbers the individual players achieved that night, yet it may not be too damaging to their numbers.
“Dontey Gay had a great game that night,” Schwartz said, “but it hurts him as far as losing touchdowns in the national statistics leaders. But the way they handle it, it really won’t hurt anyone else since the stats will be divided by the other two games instead of three.”
The OVC tries to follow suit with the NCAA’s guidelines.
“That’s always been our policy,” Schwartz said. “The NCAA told us that we could have done whatever we wanted to, but looking back historically, we have followed suit just to keep a uniform thing across the board. We did decide to let the players keep the individual stats count in their career numbers, because you can’t tell Tim Benford he didn’t make those catches, because he did. You’ve got to add those to the career numbers, but you just won’t see them reflected in the OVC leaders this year. But when his career is done, he can say ‘I caught X number of passes in the Lane College game.’”
by Thomas Corhern, The Herald-Citizen