Replay Official Reprimanded By Conference Officials For Blown Call In USA – UNT Game

November 14, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

South Alabama received some news on Tuesday from the Sun Belt Conference office concerning the Jaguars game against North Texas last weekend. The Sun Belt Conference issued a formal reprimand of two of the Conference’s replay officials, including the replay official working the South Alabama vs North Texas game.

With the Jags trailing North Texas 24-14, Jaguar defensive back Tyrell Pearson picked off a pass and returned it down the left sideline. He was then knocked out of bounds near the goal line and officials on the field ruled that he had fumbled the ball and it had hit the pylon before going out of bounds. That ruling meant that the ball was a touchback, giving the Mean Green the ball back at their own 20 yard line.

It went to a review and the play was upheld.

However, the video clearly shows the fumble going out of bound around the 1 yard line and that the ball did not the pylon. The correct ruling should have been that it was the Jaguars ball with a first and goal at the 1 yard line.

In the press release the Conference recognized the blown call in announcing the reprimand. Additionally the replay officials involved have been placed on probation and will be removed from consideration to work a post-season bowl game.

Another replay official working the Arkansas State vs Louisiana-Monroe game from last Thursday night were also reprimanded, placed on probation and will not be considered for a postseason bowl game.

“Instant replay was established to ‘get calls right’ that are questionable on the field,” said Sun Belt Conference commissioner Karl Benson. “Our coaches, student athletes and fans deserve quality performance in the instant replay booth just like they do from the officials on the field. South Alabama and ULM have received apologies and the two instant replay officials are hereby reprimanded.”

As mentioned above, the Jags were trailing 24-14 with 2:40 left in the third quarter. If the Jags had retained possession they were poised to score a touchdown from the one yard line to cut the Mean Green lead to three points heading into the fourth quarter.

“It is unfortunate, but it definitely had a major impact on the game,” head coach Joey Jones said. “It would have made it a three-point game and it would have changed our whole offense philosophy in the fourth quarter. But I admire the Sun Belt Conference and the commissioner for admitting to (the mistake) and being completely honest about it.”

South Alabama Athletics Director Joel Erdmann told the Press Register that he appreciates what the Conference did in this instance. “I’d like to commend the commissioner and the conference’s actions in our specific instance,” Erdmann said. “It reinforces the stakes that are at play within the game of FBS football. Often times, a game’s outcome hangs in the balance of a hand full of plays. Thus, the increased importance on accuracy.”

“We deeply appreciate the conference and the officials and the coordinator of officials because we know that they work hard every day to prepare themselves to make the best decisions and call the best games that they can.”

Know Your Stadiums: North Texas’ Apogee Stadium

November 9, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

A view of Apogee Stadium.

The University of North Texas plays at the newly built Apogee Stadium, originally named Mean Green Stadium.

The University broke ground on the new stadium on November 21, 2009 and opened on September 10, 2011. The stadium was proposed by the University of North Texas System Board of Regents after the 2002 New Orleans Bowl and cost $78 million. UNT opened the stadium against the University of Houston and lost 48-23.

A referendum in 2002 for higher student athletics fees was rejected by 55 percent of the UNT’s voting students. But after the vote, the school administrators lobbied the North Texas Student Government Association to increase the fees as a way to help the University’s athletics program in order to achieve Title IX compliance. The student senators approved the fee increase at half the proposed rate, which the Board of Regents implemented immediately. Consequently students mounted a recall election campaign, which was supported by documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, which resulted in the removal of 14 senators from their office.

In September 2002, the university purchased land on the opposite side of Interstate 35 from the main campus in Denton, Texas for $5.1 million from Liberty Christian School. Following the Mean Green’s victory in the 2002 New Orleans Bowl on December 17, 2002 school administrators announced their intent to build new athletic facilities on the property. They referred to this area as the “Mean Green Village” which included the new football stadium.

The reason given to build a new stadium rather than renovating their existing stadium, Fouts Field, was that then Vice Chancellor of Administrative Affairs Richard Raefs claimed that it would cost $8 million more to renovate the existing stadium that it would to build an entirely new stadium. The project’s primary objective was to consolidate the academic facilities.

Fouts Field, the old stadium, was opened in September 1952 and originally named Eagle Stadium. In 1954 it was renamed in honor of Theron J. Fouts, former football coach, athletics director and founder of the UNT track and field program. The Stadium originally consisted of two sideline grandstands on either side of the track and was oriented northwest to southeast. It sat 20,000.

They added endzone grandstands which stretched around the track in 1994 which added another 10,500 seats for a total of 30,500. The playing surface was Sportex Omnigrass Artificial Turf.

The University Master Plan calls for the demolition of Fouts Field and the land will be absorbed by the university. The plans calls for two residence halls, a parking garage and a University Opera House to be built on the grounds freed up by the stadium.

Apogee Stadium opened on September 10, 2011 with a capacity of 30,850 and was built in a horse shoe shape. It was designed to be able to expand to 50,000. The playing surface is PowerBlade HP+ and it comprised of synthetic fibers with a rubber and sand infill. The home side of the stadium includes 21 luxury suites with they sell for $20,000 per year plus a “six or seven-figure gift to the Stadium Fund”. It also has 754 club seats. The stands on the east side of the stadium is generally reserved for student seating and is between the stadium and the tailgating area called “The Hill.”

The seating behind the north end zone forms a distinctive “V” shape to resemble an eagle’s wings in flight. The South end zone does not have any seating but has a 47′ by 27′ scoreboard and a five foot bronze bust of an eagle named “Spiriki” that was donated by the members of the school’s first social fraternity the Geezles.

They also have a scale cannon named “Boomer” which is fired each time the team scores.

A 2,500 square-foot pavilion for alumni is located just north of the stadium.

The stadium actually because the first newly built stadium to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification, the highest awarded by the US Green Building Council. In 2008, then university president signed the American College and University President’s Claimat Commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040 and to ensure all new university buildings and facilities would achieve a minimum of LEED silver certification.

The stadium uses various forms of environmental technology to achieve this. In order to reduce water consumption and urban runoff, the facility includes an 85,000 square foot water retention system, 338,000 square feet of permeable paving and low flow plumbing systems.

The facility includes three Northwind 100 wind turbines which are 120 feet tall with 30 foot blades. They are expected to produce a combined 450,000 kilowatt-hours of energy per year which would account for roughly 1/3 of the stadium’s energy needs.

Wind Turbines near the Apogee Stadium.

Arial view of Apogee Stadium showing the Eagle Wings shaped endzone seating.

Jags Look For Complete Game Against Mean Green

November 7, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

As the remaining games dwindle down this season the Jags continue to work hard to add more wins to their season total. A few weeks ago South Alabama notched their first win against an FBS team and a Sun Belt team when they defeated Florida Atlantic in double overtime.

While the Jags record is 2-7 (1-4 SBC) it does not show how close they are to a much better record. In recent weeks they have dropped games by a margin of one possession to FIU last weekend and Arkansas State a few weeks back. They also dropped the season opening game to UTSA by a field goal in the final minute of the game. If those game swing the Jags way the record would be 5-4 overall.

But those games did not go the Jags way and the team is eager to add more to the win column.

“We’ve played some good games, but I don’t know that we have played a four-quarter game yet, I really don’t,” Jones said. “I think we have played three quarters, we have played two, we have played three-and-a-half against Louisiana-Monroe and Arkansas State. We are doing some good things. For where we are in our program, we have to play four quarters to have a chance to win.”

“I think we have gained some respect from the other coaches and the teams we have played against,” Jones continued. “That’s gratifying in some ways because when you walk across the field and shake a guy’s hand, you can tell that they respect what you are doing. But it still wasn’t a win on the scoreboard, and until we start getting some of those it’s going to sting.”

While the totals in the Win and Loss columns may not show it, but the Jags have improved from game one through game nine this season. Yes they have had letdowns in certain facets of their game from week to week, but they still improve from week to week.

South Alabama dug themselves a big hole against FIU, yet put up attention-grabbing numbers on both sides of the ball against FIU, the preseason pick to win the Sun Belt title. The Jags posted a season-best 458 yards of total offense and averaged six yards per play. Defensively the Jags held FIU to a mere 31 yards of offense in the second half with only two first downs.

The Jags also scored 13 unanswered points in the second half including a 75 yard touchdown pass to open the half from Ross Metheny to Corey Besteda. They also had three drives that crossed midfield in the fourth quarter and had a third and goal from inside the one yard line in the fourth quarter but could not get in the endzone after a false start penalty back them up five yards.

“We’re a much better football team now than we were the first year,” Jones said. “It’s probably the biggest improvement that any team we have had these first four years has made within the season. Is it showing up in the conference standings? No, because we still see some L’s over there on our side. Did we play really well? Yes, but this game is all about winning.”

South Alabama will be looking to put together a complete, four quarter game against North Texas this weekend.

The Jags gave up 334 yards of offense to FIU to rank second in the Sun Belt with an average of 364.7 yards per game. Metheny put up a game-record of 326 yards of total offense against FIU as he threw for 270 yards and rushing for 56 more yards.

North Texas enters the game averaging 405.8 yards per game including an average of 175 yards rushing per game. The Mean Green ranks fourth in the conference in rushing with two backs in the top 10 individually. Brandin Byrd has 572 yards on 152 carries with two touchdowns while Antoinne Jimmerson has 522 yards on 105 carries with five touchdowns.

UNT quarterback Derek Thompson has thrown for over 200 yards in seven consecutive games with a 316 yard game against Arkansas State last weekend. He averages 229.3 yards per game passing for the season to rank fifth in the conference.

However the Mean Green is missing Breland Chancellor to a season-ending injury. He had 966 all-purpose yards including 25 catches for 450 yards and five touchdowns.

“The thing that is dangerous about them is that they will run, run, run, run and all of a sudden run play action and throw it deep over the top,” Jones explained. “We have to be smart and not give up the big throw. Our cornerbacks and safeties are really going to have to do a good job this week. We have to be disciplined in the secondary, especially this week.”

UNT has allowed an average of 410 yards per game and over 250 yards per game passing. In the last four games opponents are averaging over 315 yards per game through the air.

“North Texas is a very physical team, they play power football offensively,” Jones said. “Defensively they don’t run a lot of things, but they do them extremely well. They have big guys up front who are 330 and 300 pounds inside. They play very good fundamental football and are very well coached. They beat Louisiana-Lafayette on TV three weeks ago, they got after them. They play with a physical nature that they bring to every game.”

The Jags will kickoff against North Texas in Denton, Texas at 4pm. The game can be heard on WNSP and viewed through the University of North Texas’ online video service.

Jags Prepare For Trip To North Texas

November 5, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Jaguar tight end Wes Saxton catches a pass from Ross Metheny over the middle in the Jaguars loss to FIU on Saturday.

South Alabama’s preparation for their trip to North Texas this weekend is well underway as they try to put behind their loss to Florida International on Saturday.

The Jags had a chance to tie the game in the fourth quarter but opted to kick a field goal that bounced off the left upright, no good. However they had equal parts good and bad from the game. They went into halftime with a 21-7 deficit but halftime adjustments allowed them to score 13 points and shut-out the Golden Panthers in the second half.

The Jags produced 458 total yards, their most productive game offensively this season. But they still struggled to score touchdowns in the red zone with only one touchdown in four trips into the red zone.

The Jags played well enough to win for the fourth consecutive game, but could not come out on top except for the Florida Atlantic game in double overtime.

The loss dropped the Jaguars record to 2-7 (1-4 SBC) for the season. The loss also sealed the Jaguars first losing season in program history. However they can still end the season on a positive note in the next four games. But, if the Jags want to end the season on a positive note in their final four games of the season, they will have to do it on the road. The Jags only have one game left at home when they host Middle Tennessee in two weeks.

North Texas will enter the game with a 3-6 record (2-3 SBC) coming off a loss to Arkansas State by a score of 37-19.

The Jags will begin to correct their mistakes on Monday afternoon when they return to the practice field. “We’re going to go back, look at this, make some corrections and focus on North Texas,” quarterback Ross Metheny said. “North Texas has a good football team as well. We’re going to focus on ourselves and have a good week or preparation and go to Denton and do what we do.”

Coach Joey Jones said his team dug a hole too deep when they allowed FIU to build a 28-7 halftime lead. He also said that the Jaguars are competitive in the conference, but that the conference is very competitive from top to bottom.

“There are a lot of good teams in this league and there’s not a lot of difference from the top to the bottom,” Jones said. “(FIU is) just as good as anybody and we’re playing close ball, but we just didn’t finish this game. We play North Texas (this) week and we’re going to try to go up there and get a win. It’s a tough conference.”

The combined records of the Jaguars final four opponents is 15-20, but Middle Tennessee State is tied with Louisiana-Monroe for first place in the conference (4-1 SBC) and MTSU is tied for fourth in the conference with a 3-2 record in conference play.

UNT will be the second Sun Belt foe in a row that will be leaving after the end of the season to move to Conference-USA. Both North Texas and Florida Internation accepted invitations to join Conference-USA in the prior to the beginning of the football season.