Sorry, another football related post:
This afternoon, the Denver Broncos defeated the Oakland Raiders 23-20 in overtime. This is how it went down: Denver won the coin toss and got the ball first (NFL overtime is sudden death format, so the first team to get the ball usually has the advantage). Denver couldn't get a first down, and they punted to Oakland. Oakland got the ball back, and managed to get into field goal range. The field goal was set up and Sebastian Janikowski, the kicker, nailed a 51 yard field goal (not an easy task). The game looked over.
But wait, say the officials . . . a timeout was called right before the kick. [Usually before an important kick, the opposing coach will ice the kicker, meaning that he'll call a timeout after the kicker sets up for the field goal, but before the play starts, so that the kicker has to think about it and get nervous, increasing the likelihood he'll miss the kick.] But none of the players heard the whistle that indicated the time out was being called.
In fact, Shanahan told a nearby referee that he wanted to call a time out at the very last possible second before the kick. The referee then let Shanahan wait to call the time out, apparently, until all participating parties, including his own players, executed the play. So then the refs rendered the kick null and void, and the Raiders had to re-kick. They did, and Janikowski's second kick bounced off the left upright. The Broncos got the ball back and won the game.
In my opinion, this maneuver was just as bad, if not worse than Belichick's spying. For starters, why should a coach get to tell a ref, "I'm going to call a time out at the last possible second"? Isn't that ref colluding with the coach in game strategy? If Shanahan tells the ref that he's going to call a timeout, thereby preventing the play from starting, then the ref should summarily whistle and call a time out right at the very second Shanahan mentions the word "timeout."
Second, if Shanahan's going to call a timeout, and it's written in stone (i.e., even if everyone on the field doesn't hear the whistle, the play won't matter), then isn't it fraudulent for the Broncos' players to execute the play? Did Shanahan tell his players this would happen?
Third, the executed play forced the Raiders to expend valuable physical resources for nothing. If the refs can't stop the play before it starts, then the timeout was simply called too late. Don't punish the innocent kicking team by forcing them to waste energy on a play. The NFL really dropped the ball on this one.
Not cool, Shanahan. Not cool.