Dick Harmon: In SDSU-BYU pregame heat, video coordinator Chad Bunn to be defended
Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
A warning shot has been fired.
Because BYU and San Diego State will renew their relationship in a bowl game in San Diego on Dec. 20, certainly the name of Chad Bunn will surface.
If it does, beware. He’s got legal beagles on the case this time.
If somebody takes on Bunn, that person will face an oven.
You might remember the case of Bunn. He was part of a team in the video replay booth during BYU’s last win over San Diego State in LaVell Edwards Stadium. When an apparent J.J. Diluigi fumble was ruled on the field as a non-fumble and a replay booth official upheld that call, most of San Diego almost fell into the Pacific Ocean.
Folks at SDSU, by leaking MWC conversations to the media that cover the Aztecs, blamed Bunn, a BYU employee, and used him as a scapegoat.
Shortly after Poinsettia Bowl officials announced last week that SDSU would play BYU, somebody sent me a copy of a San Diego newspaper column from two years ago that read:
“Would J. Edgar Hoover invite Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to sit in on security meetings? Would Gen. Washington text Benedict Arnold with his battle plans for Yorktown? Would the Mountain West Conference allow a Brigham Young University employee to work in the replay booth during last Saturday’s San Diego State football game? The answer to the first two questions: Of course not. The answer to the third: Of course.”
He went on, disparaging Bunn over and over again.
Fact is, the MWC often used staff from home teams to help with game production and the replay booth, but these locals don’t make decisions. Bunn’s case was no different. But you get the idea, the setting and the edge back two years ago.
Chad Bunn, an honorable man, devoted husband, father and son, never responded in public. In fact, when the MWC suspended the chief replay official, whose job it was to review and issue a decision, Bunn volunteered to be suspended for a week, because he was part of the team. That’s the kind of guy he is.
The MWC then approached Bunn to continue to do its basketball tournament in Las Vegas, primarily because he is one of the best in the business at tagging and producing game videos in a lightning quick operation.
Beating up on Bunn will not go unanswered this time, according to Alan W. Mortensen, an attorney for the law firm of Dewsnup, King and Olsen in Salt Lake City.
When a Utah radio sports talk host revisited that last SDSU-BYU football game, and blasted Bunn, previewing this year’s Poinsettia Bowl, Mortensen fired off a cease and desist letter and asked for an apology.
For the first time I know of, somebody publicly defended and explained Bunn’s role in the booth that day, beyond his title as communicator.
“Let me be clear,” said Mortensen, “he was not the review official. It is the review official’s position to make replay calls. Mr. Bunn, per MWC protocol, was only providing the video feeds requested by Mike Angelis, who was the replay official. It was Mr. Angelis who made the decision on whether to reverse the call you fixate on.”
Citing MWC procedures memos on video replay, Mortensen pointed out: “The replay official is in charge of the replay booth and has ultimate decision-making authority to review, confirm or reverse on-field rulings.”
Bunn was responsible to provide Angelis the play to him “as requested and bookmark replays as directed by Replay Official.” Mortensen added, “Mr. Bunn has no involvement in not overturning the fumble.”
The lawyer says criticism of Bunn has been devastating and impedes his ability to earn income and provide for his family in a position he is very qualified to perform.
In the letter to that local media outlet, Mortensen shot off a warning:
“If you do not cease and desist your unfounded comments about Mr. Bunn, without the proper foundation to make such statements, and especially with the information we are now providing with this letter, we will look at legal action against you (and the radio station) for the harm you are causing Mr. Bunn, both economically and emotionally.”
In other words, game on.
Already, in a press conference this week with current San Diego State coach Rocky Long, some folks in San Diego, in an apparent effort to stoke up the “hate card,” drilled Long on his level of hate of BYU. Long, a classy guy, did not bite, but he was pressed time and time again in the media sessions.
It’s only a matter of time until somebody brings up Bunn and the video replay in San Diego and begins a drum beat.
I have known Bunn for 25 years. Nobody works harder. Few have provided a greater service in his business to schools across the country in this video business. He’s an artist. He’s also accommodating to people with demands, almost to a fault. He goes out of his way to please.
Mortensen is right. Crossed-eyed emotional blather about the guy will not go unanswered this time.
Now, let the bowl hype begin.
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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