MAC head of officials says referee was mistaken in calling out band, cheerleaders at Toledo game
Central Michigan football's 28-23 loss to Toledo on Tuesday night took an odd turn late in the third quarter when the Rockets reached the Chippewas' red zone while clinging to a four-point lead.
Referee Anthony Cannella stopped the game with 5:42 remaining in the third quarter and announced a warning to the CMU band and cheerleaders for making too much noise or "interfering with the snap."
"The job of the band is to be there for the team. We are there to be a support system," said junior trombone player Holly Moore. "To have a ref say that was strange. Honestly, that’s our job. That's what we are there for."
ESPN cameras immediately panned to the Chippewa cheerleaders, who stood stunned in the south end zone. Fans immediately became enraged, and Kelly/Shorts Stadium became significantly nosier for the rest of the game.
(Screenshot of ESPN video)
"I don't wanna bash the refs, I would never do that," said cheerleader Oliver Yockey. "At Michigan State, they are crazy loud there. So we try to do the same here. I didn’t even hear (the announcement from the official) happen.”
Brendan Wilk, an assistant drum major, was on the podium when the refs made the call and did not realize what had happened until several moments later.
"We weren't even playing at the time. We were just cheering like we always do," he said. "We were absolutely dumbfounded. I just started laughing. It's cool that something that seemed to ridiculous at the time just fired everyone up."
The drive ended with a missed 21-yard Toledo field goal, giving CMU all the momentum and sending head coach John Bonamego into major celebration.
(Screenshot of gif via Mid-American Conference)
This is not the first time this has happened in a CMU vs. Toledo football game in Mount Pleasant.
During the team's 2007 meeting, officials picked up a penalty marker for snap infraction on the Rockets, citing stadium noise as giving the defense an unfair advantage.
After Tuesday night's game, Bonamego said he never got a clear explanation for why the call was made.
"I tried to get (the official) to come over, but they never came," Bonamego said. "Those guys, for the most part, do a good job and communicate well. I've just never seen that call."
The MAC’s policy concerning band’s playing during a game dictates due to the proliferation of no huddle offenses a band is to stop playing once the ball is spotted and the offensive team approaches the line of scrimmage.
On Wednesday, the conference released a statement stating: "The official in question last night erred by making his announcement without following the proper protocol and identifying CMU’s cheerleaders."