It’s said that football is a game of inches. That’s supposed to be in reference to the play on the field, not what takes place in the replay booth.
Seemingly, as the season has worn on, replay has become a bigger thorn in my side, which I guess is only fitting with Stanford-UCLA playing in the Pac-12 Championship with a Rose Bowl berth on the line.
What’s irritating me is that calls get reversed using frame-by-frame analysis. It’s as if they’re purposely looking to overturn something that is so close, it’d be impossible for the naked eye to see.
However, hope was restored ever so slightly, in an exciting game won, 27-24, by Stanford.
Two plays from this game drew criticism because replay official Dave Lambros did exactly what is asked in the rule book. He let two calls stand that were very close, when you could have argued that both might have been reversed. But Lambros left it to the officials, who were in perfect position to make the calls as they happened.
I’d be less irritated if the persistent remained consistent.
I understand they have to stop and look at it, but don’t get so involved in the minutia that it overturns a call on one frame. We’re using replay to try to change things over a few inches.
Let’s take a look at the two plays in question:
PLAY 1 / A UCLA touchdown that many said was short.
Here was the situation: UCLA had the ball, first-and-10 at the UCLA 49-yard line with 11:49 left in the first quarter. There was no score.
UCLA quarterback Johnathan Franklin rushed 51 yards for a touchdown. After a review, the play stood as called.
I can make a case that Franklin is short because his left thigh was on the ground just before he broke the plane. JUST before he broke the plane. It’s so close that you have to freeze the video to reach this conclusion.
To me, it’s too close to overturn the call that was made. Freezing the video and questioning whether a runner is inches short is not what replay should be all about. It’s to correct the obvious errors, and this clearly was not one that was obvious. If they would have ruled him short on the field, it should have stayed short.
PLAY 2 / A Stanford interception that was returned to the UCLA 1-yard line that many said was a TD.
Here was the situation: UCLA had the ball, second-and-16 at the Stanford 36-yard line with 13:27 left in the second quarter. UCLA led 14-7.
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley’s attempted pass was intercepted by Ed Reynolds at the Stanford 19-yard line and returned 80 yards to the UCLA 1-yard line. Reynolds dived for the end zone, and it was reviewed to see if the ball crossed the plane of the goal line. The play stood as called.
Many people tweeted in to the FOX Command Center that this should have been reversed to a touchdown.
I would never have reversed this based on two basic things: No. 1, there was not a camera shot right down the line, and, No. 2, referee Shawn Hochuli was in perfect position to make this call.
Angles are incredibly deceiving. I know this from my 12 years in the NFL office. What looks like a touchdown from a camera angle that is 10-15 yards behind the play can look completely different when there is a camera right now the line. There was not indisputable visual evidence that this was a touchdown.
As we inch toward the end of the college football season, my only hope is that replay calls remain consistent with what’s called on the field.