The officiating Music City Bowl between Kentucky and Northwestern was highly criticized, with Pac-12 ref Chris Coyte’s decision to eject Kentucky running back Benny Snell particularly generating a lot of criticism. Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart even sent a strongly-worded letter to the Pac-12 recently about Coyte and his crew.
But it appears that Kentucky fans have gone overboard with their disapproval of the officiating in the game, which resulted in a 24-23 Northwestern win.
ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura reports that Coyte and the officiating crew “have been the target of threats and harassment by fans.”
Pac-12 referee Chris Coyte and his crew have been the target of threats and harassment by fans in the wake of a controversial decision to eject Kentucky running back Benny Snell from the Wildcats’ 24-23 loss to Northwestern in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl on Dec. 29.
Bonagura adds that Coyte and commercial real estate association he belongs to received a “barrage” of threatening calls from Kentucky fans.
In the days following the game, Coyte received a barrage of threatening calls to his cell and office phones, sources said, as did the commercial real estate association he belongs to.
The frequency of the threats reportedly began to die down, until Barnhart’s letter to the Pac-12 was made public.
The harassing calls began to die down until last week, sources said, when a letter from Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart to the Pac-12’s vice president of officials, David Coleman, critical of Coyte and his crew was made public by the Lexington Herald-Leader, which reported it obtained the letter through an open records request.
There’s no doubt the ejection was a bad decision by Coyte, and quite possibly went a long way to impacting the result of the game. After all, Kentucky lost by only one point, and Snell was the team’s most important offensive player on the season, with 19 touchdowns.
But threatening calls is not just a bit much, it’s insane. And over the Music City Bowl? It’s one thing if we’re talking the College Football Playoff (note: it would still be dumb and crazy), but the Music City Bowl? Making calls to threaten a human being over this game is significantly more pathetic than the game’s officiating was.