Third time not really charm in FSU game

To review or not to review, that is the question. So what do you make of three reviews on one play?

Where’s Shakespeare when you need him? That said, I’m not sure whether Shakespeare or Hamlet would have been able to figure out what transpired during the Miami-Florida State game Saturday.

OK, pay attention as I try to sort out this mess for you.

Florida State had the ball, third-and-3 from the FSU 12-yard line with 12 minutes, 36 seconds left in the second quarter. Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel faded back to pass and, as he was tackled by two Miami defenders near the goal line, was called for intentional grounding. The original ruling on the field was a safety, because the officials thought the ball crossed the plane of the goal while Manual was attempting to pass to avoid being tackled. By rule, intentional grounding in the end zone is a safety.

That’s when the confusion began, and I have to say that I’ve never seen anything quite like this play before.

Let’s start with the referee having three different conversations with the replay official on the same play. Initially, the replay official determined the call would stand. Then came a second buzz from the booth, and the replay official changed his mind and reversed the decision, taking the points off the board for Miami, spotting the ball at the FSU 1 and making it fourth-and-14 for Florida State. The replay official determined that the position of the body dictated over the position of the ball, and since the body was still in the field of play, it was not a safety.

I’m not exactly sure why the replay official buzzed a third time, but he might have been as puzzled as the rest of us. It certainly sent me and my crew to the rule book.

The rule is not specifically covered in the book. But if you apply the rule regarding the passer being beyond the line of scrimmage, you could conclude they were probably right in their ruling. Emphasis on probably. In order for the quarterback to be considered illegally beyond the line of scrimmage when passing the football, his entire body and the ball must be beyond the line when the pass is released.

So you could make a case, that for the quarterback to be considered in his own end zone when throwing a pass, his entire body and the ball must be in the end zone when the ball leaves his hand.

I’m sure that sometime this week, the NCAA’s national coordinator of officiating, Rogers Redding, will come up with a definitive ruling.

And now for the final plot twist: I don’t think the play was reviewable.

The spot of a foul in relationship to the end zone is not reviewable. There is a specific play in the case book that basically states that. Unless it’s determined that this play was an egregious error, which I don’t think it was, it’s not reviewable.

If that doesn’t confuse you, nothing will.

Let’s take a look at a few of the other interesting calls from Saturday:

 

THE GAME: Texas at Missouri

THE SITUATION: Missouri had the ball, third-and-3 from the 50-yard line with 5:19 left in the second quarter. Missouri led 7-3.

THE PLAY: Missouri quarterback James Franklin handed off to De’Vion Moore. He was hit immediately by Texas defender Kenny Vaccaro, who was called for a personal foul penalty for a high hit.

MY TAKE: As recently as three years ago, no one would have looked at this hit as a foul. The game has changed so dramatically, that all levels of football are turning what used to be form tackles into illegal high hits. On top of that, the officials are being told to err on the side of safety and call a foul even if they are not sure the hit is illegal. I really don’t think this hit was a personal foul because the hairline portion of Vaccaro’s helmet strikes Moore’s shoulder first. But in real time, I must tell you it would be hard to tell between hairline and crown of the helmet and shoulder or head. You have to realize an official has 1/26th of a second to make his judgment. If he leans on the rule book and calls it based on erring on the side of safety principle, he’s going to call this a foul. Even though it’s likely not a foul, we’re going to likely have to live with this and it’s likely not to be consistently officiated.

 

THE GAME: Wake Forest at Clemson

THE SITUATION: Clemson had the ball, second-and-goal at the Wake Forest 7-yard line with 1:30 left in the third quarter. Wake Forest led 28-14.

THE PLAY: Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd completed a 7-yard pass to Brandon Ford for a touchdown. After a review, the touchdown stood as called.

MY TAKE: There will be a lot of discussion about this play this week. Yes, Ford had a foot down with possession of the ball, but he also came from out of bounds. My Twitter account blew up. The referee announced after the review that the ruling on the field stood. By making that announcement, he left some questions dangling. Touching of a pass is reviewable, and one would have to assume that replay looked at the fact Ford was out of bounds, essentially making him ineligible. If he is the first to touch the pass, it is a 5-yard penalty for illegal touching. That’s what should have been called. The only possible reason for this not to be a foul is if Ford was pushed out of bounds before he came back in bounds. By the replays I saw, it did not appear Ford had been pushed. It’s going to be an interesting week in the ACC, especially because Clemson came back to win 31-28.

 

THE GAME: Nebraska at Penn State

THE SITUATION: Nebraska had the ball, second-and-2 from the Penn State 49-yard line with 9:43 left in the game. Nebraska led 17-7.

THE PLAY: Quarterback Taylor Martinez fumbled the exchange, and Penn State recovered the ball.

MY TAKE: Nebraska coach Bo Pelini did not agree with the ruling on the field that Penn State recovered the ball. First, he wanted the play reviewed, then it appeared he tried to challenge the call. The officials correctly did not allow Pelini to challenge. Who recovers a fumble in the field of play is not reviewable. The reason that rule was brought into effect was because the ball often changes hands in the pile. It is reviewable in the end zone, because a scoring play dictates that. And it’s also reviewable at the sideline only if a player is touching the loose ball while being out of bounds. Some people confuse this with the "clear recovery" rule. But the clear recovery rule applies only when a runner is ruled down but had fumbled first. In that case, you can give the ball to the recovering team if there is a clear recovery before the ball goes into a pile. The officials handled this properly.

 

THE GAME: Texas at Missouri

THE SITUATION: Texas had the ball, second-and-9 at the Texas 43-yard line with 5:08 left in the first quarter. Texas led 3-0.

THE PLAY: Texas running back D.J. Monroe carried the ball 13 yards to the Missouri 44. But Texas’ Marquise Goodwin was called for holding at the Texas 45. The ball, however, was brought back to the Texas 46, where the Longhorns were given a second-and-6.

MY TAKE: One of my very alert Twitter crew members pointed out this incorrect penalty enforcement. This actually does happen more often than people realize. Many times the spot of the foul is not accurate because the official fails to get his flag to the spot of the foul. In the Southern California-Stanford game two weeks ago, the back judge called holding, but his flag landed 7 yards short of the actual spot of the foul. On this play in the Texas-Missouri game, the field judge’s flag landed about 16 yards further downfield from the actual hold. He came up and adjusted it 5 yards back toward the spot of the hold but was still 11 yards away where he should have placed it. The penalty enforcement should have left the ball spotted at the Texas 35-yard line. Instead, Texas ended up with the ball second-and-6 at its 46. I guess this proves that a spot foul isn’t always an exact spot foul.

 

THE GAME: Oklahoma State at Texas Tech

THE SITUATION: Oklahoma State had the ball, first-and-10 from the Oklahoma State 49-yard line with 7:38 left in the third quarter. Oklahoma State led 56-6.

THE PLAY: OSU running back Joseph Randle carried the ball around left end and stiff-armed Texas Tech’s Happiness Osunde, whose helmet was knocked off on the play. No penalty was called on Randle for knocking off Osunde’s helmet, though an illegal formation penalty was called on the Cowboys on the play.

MY TAKE: If I had one wish, it would be to get everybody to understand that the rules for hands to the face mask are no different for the runner or tackler. Either player can put an open hand on the mask and push the head back. Neither player can grab the mask and twist, turn or pull the head. If either does, it’s a 15-yard penalty for grabbing the face mask. Interior line play is the only place where it’s different. In that case, continuous contact to the mask by either team is called illegal hands to the face. It applies to both teams. Therefore, Randle’s action is not a foul, even though he pushed Osunde’s helmet off his head.