Syracuse University Athletic Director on SU-FSU ending: ‘A call like that just needs to be made’


SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Syracuse Athletic Director, John Wildhack, joined the radio version of Orange Nation Tuesday on Cuse Sports Talk.

NewsChannel 9 Sports Director Steve Infanti interviewed Wildhack on numerous topics, including this past weekend’s controversial finish to the SU-Florida State football game, Taj Harris announcing his transfer away from Syracuse, and how he views the state of the program. 

You can watch the full interview in the video player above. 

Below is a transcript of a portion of Tuesday’s interview, which has been slightly edited for clarification and brevity.  

Steve Infanti: Alright, so I gotta ask you about that final job for Florida State. You mentioned Travis making plays with his legs. He made a big one, made two big ones on the final job, but that last one that he made. I think if we’re all being honest should not have counted. Marlowe Wax was clearly being held right in front of the referee. No call was made. It sets up the game-winning field goal. I know it won’t change the outcome John, but is there anything you could do, or your office can do as it relates to getting some answers from the conference? 

Wildhack: Yeah, there is Steven and number one is that’s not why we lost the game. We’re never going to use that as an excuse in the referees. I mean, their job is nearly impossible. And overall, they do a great job. 

Candidly, when you have a call like that, and it’s that egregious, and we were on the opposite side all the way up in the visiting AD suite – with three other guys who played college football (and) we spotted it live immediately. 

I mean, it was obvious and it’s right in front of the official. I’ve been in rules seminars with the NFL for 25 years, and the rule of thumb is, in a close game you’re not going to call unless it’s egregious. It can affect the outcome of the play that was both egregious and affected the outcome of the play. I’m disappointed it wasn’t called. I did exchange notes with the (ACC) Commissioner Sunday morning. We sent in that clip and a couple other clips to the ACC office yesterday, which is standard protocol, but I just I think, we deserved better. And I think all 14 ACC schools deserve better. 

We had Josh Black on the show yesterday and Josh said for whatever reason, he feels like the bad calls always get-go against Syracuse at the worst times. Do you just chalk it up to bad calls happen? Do you chalk it up to something else? Do you think things will change (and) how will things change when it comes to officiating? 

Well, I think the ACC (has) gone through a comprehensive review. Grading the officials on a per-game basis. So, I think there’s more you know there, there’s more accountability than maybe there was two to three years ago and I’m not going to say be all the calls go against this or they don’t… that’s up for interpretation. 

But a call like that just needs to be made, and when it isn’t, it’s frustrating. It’s so hard to win a football game. Our kids competed so hard and again, that doesn’t necessarily impact the outcome of the game, but it needs to be made. There are processes that we go through, and I just hope that we continually and I’m confident the League office will continually evaluate the quality of officiating and try to improve it. Again, they’re humans, mistakes are going to occur, but a mistake like that can’t happen. 

I do want to ask you about Taj Harris announcing that he’s leaving. We’ve seen this from a handful of guys since the start of camp, but the two, in particular, most recently, Jarveon Howard and Taj Harris. Both (transferring) in season. Is this just something we’re going to have to get used to in the landscape college football? Does it sit right with you? 

Number one, Steve, I wish them well. Both guys, wherever they go, they’re making decisions that they think are in their best interest. We respect that. We would obviously much prefer both of them were here. They were significant contributors for us on offense and special teams as well, but it is it isn’t new dawn. This is what the transfer portal is. It’s a new reality and it’s not unique to Syracuse. You’re seeing it with some other programs around the country, where players during the season (have) decided to transfer. So, we respect that the players have the right to do that, and I think it is kind of the new world order to some degree. 

The radio version of Orange Nation airs Monday-Friday from noon to 2 p.m. on ESPN Radio and Cuse Sports Talk on Twitch

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