If you didn't find the online stream and stay up late to watch the BYU men's volleyball match against UCLA, you missed what is one of the biggest mockeries of sport I can remember ever witnessing. A must-win match for two schools locked in a tie for first place came down to extra points in the fifth set. Josue Rivera served with BYU up 16-15 in the final set ... and all hell broke loose.
Rivera hit an ace. The line judge ruled the ball out, but did so in a strange manner. But the referee overruled and said the ball was in, giving BYU the point and a 17-15 win in the set, and a 3-2 win in the match. After falling down two sets to zero, BYU scored a huge, huge win and inched closer to the MPSF Tournament #1 seed.
Then, "legendary" coach Al Scates took to the floor and argued with the referee for no less than 10 minutes, which it turns out is against the rules for several reasons (get to that in a moment). After the debate, it was ruled the point would be replayed. Since the players had been standing on the court after a long, tough match had reached it's conclusion, and Rivera was cold, he buried the replayed serve into the net. Eventually, UCLA prevailed 20-18 and won the match.
Rules aside, in what sport does a coach get to argue the final, deciding call after the game is declared over, and devoid of video replay the ref reverses his call?
Al Scates was Mike Sanford in this video:
...except for Al Scates, IT WORKED! He stood on the court (UCLA's home court, an important facet) and brow-beat the referee, who had already come off the stand, into replaying the point and continuing the match. (Hat-tip to @paulcherrington for the video reference.) I have never seen anything like it in legitimate sports. It reminded me of, in my many years involved in refereeing/supervising youth sports, when adult coaches try to bully the 15-year-old referees into submission by sheer force. Disgraceful.
For several reasons, BYU's win should have stood and no more points should have been played. Here's why:
Former BYU volleyball player Kevin Sagers gives this insight:
@jaromjordan @BYUvolleyball The ref stepping down off the stand signifies that the match is over. Conversations cease at that point.— kevinsagers (@kevinsagers) April 7, 2012
@jaromjordan the fact that the ref called the game back on can't be allowed in the rule book. And if ucla makes the argument that the game— kevinsagers (@kevinsagers) April 7, 2012
@jaromjordan wasn't over, al scates was on the court during the game, and that's a yellow card, point byu. Game over.— kevinsagers (@kevinsagers) April 7, 2012
Then, the great men of BYUtv, Robbie Bullough and Jarom Jordan, dug into the volleyball rulebook:
From the rulebook: "Participants must accept referees’ decisions with sportsmanlike conduct, without disputing them...— Robbie Bullough (@RobbieBullough) April 7, 2012
"...In case of doubt, clarification may be requested only through the game captain." Game captain, not head coach.— Robbie Bullough (@RobbieBullough) April 7, 2012
"The first referee shall not permit any discussion about his/her decisions."— Robbie Bullough (@RobbieBullough) April 7, 2012
Highlights from the rulebook: "the coach is restricted to performing his/her function behind the coach’s restriction line."— Jarom Jordan (@jaromjordan) April 7, 2012
"The 1st ref shall not permit any discussion about his/her decisions."— Jarom Jordan (@jaromjordan) April 7, 2012
"However, at the request of the game captain, the first referee will give an explanation on the application or interpretation of the Rules"— Jarom Jordan (@jaromjordan) April 7, 2012
"If the game captain does not agree with the explanation of the first referee and chooses to protest against such decision..."— Jarom Jordan (@jaromjordan) April 7, 2012
"...he/she must immediately reserve the right to file and record this protest at the conclusion of the match."— Jarom Jordan (@jaromjordan) April 7, 2012
So in short: if the match was over, it was over, UCLA files protest, but in no way can play continue. If the match was NOT over, then UCLA's coach is in rule violation and a point is awarded to BYU, which ends the match.
(And an aside: Why didn't BYU leave the court? Why did they sit there and watch while Scates argued ... and argued ... and argued? If the referee descending from his stand is as official as it sounds -- like when Lehi pitched his tent in the wilderness to signify "this is where we stop and set up camp" -- then the match was over. Why didn't BYU leave the court?)
It will be interesting to see if BYU does protest. The school is always in a hard spot when it comes to stuff like this as it relates to the name of the Church. But in my view, protesting is the proper action. Rules were violated, ignored, and inappropriately applied by the referee and Scates, and UCLA was rewarded. Scates whined until he got his way, and BYU should appeal.
According to Kevin Sagers, if the MPSF hears an appeal and were to rule in BYU's favor, the match would be ruled a no contest, with no win or loss assigned.
Regardless of what happens with tonight's match, the two teams face off again Saturday. A win would be big for BYU anyway, but if UCLA's Friday win stands, then Saturday's match is a must win as it is BYU's final contest in MPSF play.
***UPDATE*** 4/7/2012, 4:35 PM MT
According to the official Twitter account of UCLA Athletics:
Due to a BYU protest, last night's men's vball match will be replayed beginning at the score of 16-16 in the fifth set beginning at 7 pm— UCLA Athletics (@UCLAAthletics) April 7, 2012
After all that was covered above, it seems strange to replay the match at 16-16. The only thing I can think is that the MPSF ruled the initial line judge's call of out on Rivera's serve should stand. (Which doesn't make much sense, since the ref can overrule within the rules.) Last night, the point was replayed at 16-15. So if the ruling is that the initial call of out should stand, play should have proceeded at 16-16 -- which is where the teams will start tonight.
It would be sweet justice to watch BYU win both matches tonight.
***UPDATE*** 4/7/2012, 5:05 PM MT
Aside from all the above rules questions, there is another reason the MPSF's handling of this seems to be against the rulebook:
From the rulebook: "Should one or several interruptions occur, exceeding 4 hours in total, the whole match shall be replayed."— Robbie Bullough (@RobbieBullough) April 7, 2012