Florida Gulf Coast almost pulled a stunning upset at Michigan State’s expense last night in East Lansing. The Spartans prevailed, 78-77, but not without some major controversy thanks to a game clock error.
FGCU had the ball with 1.6 seconds remaining. While the inbounds pass was in the air, the clock began to run. Antravious Simmons was clearly affected and flipped a shot up as the buzzer sounded which missed the mark.
The officials huddled and decided the shot would have counted had it gone in but the game was over since it didn’t. The Eagles deserved better. Simmons likely would have taken a better shot had the timing error not happened.
In the aftermath, much of the blame was placed on Michigan State’s timekeeper. Accusations of home cooking were levied. It was an understandable reaction, but in the end, an erroneous one.
In a statement today the Big Ten “confirmed that a game official improperly set the clock in motion via his Precision Timing belt pack” after a review.
So Michigan State wasn’t cheating. Spartans fans can now celebrate the one-point victory over FGCU without feeling guilty. Thankfully.
Now, speaking as alum here, it’s about time we got some timekeeping-related vindication. It’s been 15 years but Michigan fans are still trying to rationalize the 2001 heroics of Jeff Smoker and T.J. Duckett by blaming it on a biased clock operator.
As any impartial observer can see, this is just plain bonkers. Some seconds just feel longer than others. And if that second happens to be the last one in a football game, then so be it.
Michigan State timekeeping has always been above board. To suggest otherwise is hurtful. And if today proves anything, it’s that the truth will find its way to the light.