Officials got it right in Week 7 calls

BY foxsports • October 15, 2011

Officials’ calls aren’t the only ones about to become hot topics of conversation around the college football world.

Because after seven weeks, the “horses’’ officially will be approaching the starting gate Sunday with the announcement of the first BCS ratings.

But fear not, college football fans, if your team isn’t rated first or second.

As we enter the 14th season of the BCS — and no, BCS does not stand for Broken Computer System — only once have the teams that were rated No. 1 and No. 2 in the initial BCS standings gone on to meet in the national championship game (Texas and USC in 2005).

However, I will tell you that it doesn’t hurt if your team plays in the SEC. There’s no debating how strong that conference is. A team from the SEC has won the past five BCS championship games and seven of 13 since its inception.

Let’s get to a few of the interesting calls that may have generated some debate on Saturday.

THE GAME: Baylor at Texas A&M

THE SITUATION: Baylor had the ball, first and 10 from the Baylor 20-yard line with 9:36 left in the fourth quarter. Texas A&M led 48-28.

THE PLAY: Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III’s pass attempt to Terrance Williams was intercepted by Texas A&M’s Dustin Harris. Harris had possession, but on some replays it appears that Williams also could have also had possession of the ball.

MY TAKE: The officials on the field ruled an interception. You can make a case that it was a simultaneous catch, which, by rule, would give the ball to the offense. I just want to point out that this ruling is not reviewable. You can review whether the pass was complete, incomplete or an interception, but you cannot review to whom officials end up giving the ball. This also applies to the recovery of a loose ball. If the officials rule that a player on offense recovers a fumble, you cannot review it to see if the ball may have been recovered by a defensive player. The only exception to this rule is if the action happens in the end zone or on the sideline, if one of the players was touching the sideline at the time of the recovery.

THE GAME: Indiana at Wisconsin

THE SITUATION: Wisconsin had the ball, second and 6 at the Indiana 25-yard line with 11:32 left in the second quarter. Wisconsin led 14-0.

THE PLAY: Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson lined up under center and took the snap, then tossed the ball to running back Montee Ball. Ball threw a 25-yard pass to Wilson, who had gone down field as a receiver, for a touchdown.

MY TAKE: This was a great play — however, it’s only a great play in the college game. In the NFL, it would have been a penalty because a quarterback under center is considered an ineligible receiver. Therefore, the minute he goes down field prior to the pass, or the minute he touches the pass, it’s a foul for an ineligible receiver down field or an illegal-touching penalty. It’s plays like this that make me wish that the rules were the same for both college and the NFL. I don’t think  anybody can logically explain why either rule is better than the other. Therefore, let’s make them the same in both, and I’m in favor of the college rule. Let’s not take innovative plays out of the game.

THE GAME: South Carolina at Mississippi State

THE SITUATION: Mississippi State had the ball, second and 10 at the South Carolina 48-yard line. The score was tied 7-7.

THE PLAY: Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell’s pass to Chad Bumphis was ruled an interception by Jimmy Legree on the field, but after a booth review it was reversed to an incomplete pass.

MY TAKE: I like this reversal. The ball did hit the ground, but the greater question was whether Legree had and maintained possession of the ball, before and after it hit the ground. Legree had the ball trapped between his knees before the ball hit the ground. In my opinion, this is not possession. Although it is not specifically stated in the rule book, in either the NCAA or NFL, possession is deemed to be with your arms and hands. So, in this case, Legree really never had possession before the ball hit the ground. This was a good use of replay and a good teaching play regarding possession.

THE GAME: Michigan at Michigan State

THE SITUATION: Michigan had the ball, fourth and 8 at the MSU 37-yard line with 2:29 left in the second quarter. The score was tied 7-7.

THE PLAY: Michigan’s Will Hagerup punted the ball, and the official originally ruled it went into the end zone for a touchback, then changed his mind and ruled the ball went out of bounds at the Michigan State 5-yard line.

MY TAKE: This leads to the bewildering question as to how an officiating crew determines where a punt goes out of bounds when the ball crosses the sideline while in the air. Here is the proper mechanic: The referee, who is back by the kicker, watches the flight of the ball all the way up to the point when it hits the ground out of bounds. He focuses on that flight path. The sideline official lines up down field beyond that flight path and walks up the field on the sideline with his hand raised. The referee waits for him to reach the spot where he intersects the flight path that the referee had focused on. The referee stops them there and that’s where they mark the ball. This play wasn’t initially handled right mechanically, but in my mind, they probably got it right in the end.

THE GAME: Baylor at Texas A&M

THE SITUATION: Texas A&M had the ball, second and 10 from the A&M 27-yard line. Baylor led 14-10.

THE PLAY: Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill completed a pass to Uzoma Nwachukwu for 19 yards to the Baylor 39-yard line. Baylor was penalized 15 yards when Ahmad Dixon was called for a personal foul for a late hit on Nwachukwu.

MY TAKE: Players have to realize they cannot lead with their helmet when the player already is already on the ground. This was a shot to the back of Nwachukwu’s head. And you can see from the result that he was hurt. Everyone is so concerned now about injuries to the head and neck, and this applies to both the player being hit and the player doing the hitting. Everyone needs to do what they can to eliminate concussions and any unnecessary contact that leads to the possibility of paralysis. In my opinion, the NCAA and the NFL are doing a good job attacking this problem. It has changed the game, but the game needed to be changed.

You can follow Mike Pereira on Twitter right here.

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